The Day Alvin "Tex" Johnston Rolled an Airliner...

August 6th, 1955; As part of the Dash 80's demonstration program, Boeing invited representatives of the Aircraft Industries Association (AIA) and International Air Transport Association (IATA) to the Seattle's 1955 Safari and Gold Cup Hydroplane Races held on Lake Washington

The Dash 80, Boeing's newest and biggest thing, was scheduled to perform a simple flyover. At the controls was Chief Boeing test pilot Alvin "Tex" Johnston, ex barnstormer, civilian flight instructor, U.S. Army Air Corps Ferry Command pilot, flight test engineer and winner of the Thompson Trophy at the 1946 National Air Races. (Alvin earned his nickname "Tex" because of his unique flight gear, consisting of cowboy boots and a Stetson hat)


Tex had other plans. As Boeing's pride and joy, approached low over Lake Washington, in front of 250,000 people, including several of the nation's top aviation executives, watched as the Dash 80 pulled nose up and gracefully entered a barrel roll, causing the crowd to drop into silence.


After exiting the maneuver, Tex brought the aircraft back to show centre and amazingly, did it again.

The next day, Tex was summoned back to Boeing, and told to never perform such a maneuver again, to which Johnston replied he was simply "selling airplanes"

"Selling airplanes" he did. The 707 went on to become the dominating passenger air transport type in the 1960s and 70s, and established Boeing as one of the largest manufacturers of passenger aircraft in the world.


On the maiden flight of the Boeing 777 - June 12, 1994, Boeing Chief Test Pilot John Cashman stated that his last instructions from then-Boeing President Phil Condit were "No rolls"

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