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Tue, Aug 18, 2015

Famous Boeing 707 Barrel Roll Was 60 Years Ago This Month

Stunt Performed With Prototype Airplane Over Lake Washington

Call it a high "pucker factor" moment, particularly for Boeing executives on the ground. It was 60 years ago on August 7th that Tex Johnson famously barrel-rolled Boeing's prototype 707 over Lake Washington during the Gold Cup hydroplane race.

According to The Seattle Times, there were many airline executives attending the boat races, and Boeing's entry into the realm of jet airliners was scheduled for a fly-over. But Johnson, without the knowledge of Boeing's then-president Bill Allen, executed a 490-miles-per-hour barrel roll in the 248,000 pound airplane.

Twice.

Allen saw the stunt from a chartered boat on the lake that also had several industry executives as passengers, according to the report.

The stunt has become part of Boeing's lore. But it was not widely reported by the media. It was before the days of the Internet and YouTube, after all. Most of those at the hydroplane races were sports reporters, and were not paying particularly close attention to what was happening in the sky.

One person, perhaps with a sense of what was to come, pointed a movie camera at the sky, and caught the only known video of the 707 barrel roll.

(Image from Boeing video)

FMI: Video http://bcove.me/eht5tdrp

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