Way back between high school and college I almost ended up working for McDonnell Douglas here in St. Louis. My uncle David had worked as a tool and die maker for them for over 20 years. It was a good paying union job with benefits and you didn’t need a lot of education to work there in a blue-collar capacity back then. David never finished eighth grade but he ended up owning a lot of property out near O’Fallon, Missouri and building two houses out there from scratch. Back then if you found a good paying job and you worked hard for a company, you were usually there for life, as David ended up being. He always told me that it was a great company to work for, but instead I ended up going into the restaurant business.
Both James Smith McDonnell and Donald Wills Douglas were MIT graduates and had worked for another aircraft company called the Glenn L. Martin Company, which later would become Lockheed Martin. Both had separate companies during World War II. The Douglas Aircraft Company produced almost 30,000 aircraft from 1942-1945. The advent of the Korean War pushed McDonnell into a major military fighter supply role with its F-4 Phantom. After the conflicts, both companies were left with an oversupply of aircraft and they officially merged into the McDonnell Douglas Corporation in 1967. (www.wikipedia.com)
In 1996 and1997, Boeing Aircraft Company acquired both Rockwell and McDonnell Douglas to become the largest aircraft producer in the world. It was also the major producer of the “supertankers” that allow planes to refuel in midair. It works something like this: Aerial refueling, or In-flight refueling allows the receiving aircraft to stay in flight longer and also allows it to take off with less fuel and thus a greater payload. This also increases the range of its weapons deployment. Currently there are some supertankers or “stratotankers” that are 50 years old and the average age is some 24 years. (www.wikipedia.com)
According to CNN, (www.cnn.com) the government has just passed over Boeing and awarded a $40 billion deal to start replacing some 179 tankers to Northrop Grumman. It is one of the largest military acquisition programs in history. Boeing proposed a tanker based on its 767 commercial airliner, while Northrop, working with Boeing’s European archrival Airbus, proposed a tanker based on its Airbus A330 airliner, which is larger. The announcement came as a surprise to many in the industry as they expected the contract to be awarded to Boeing. The government simply says that Northrop offered more value for the money.
Airbus’s parent company, European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company said that it would build a plant in Alabama if it got the contract. Boeing has facilities in the state of Washington and here in St. Louis, among others. Oh, well. At least we’re still first in booze.