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The Man Behind The Boeing 747

The Man Behind The Boeing 747

You likely don’t know of Joe Sutter. Here’s what you need to know from his obituary this past week:

Joe Sutter, 95, whose team of 4,500 engineers took just 29 months to design and build the first jumbo Boeing 747 jetliner, creating a gleaming late-20th-century airborne answer to the luxury ocean liner, died of pneumonia Tuesday in Bremerton, Wash. The plane, introduced in 1968, would transform commercial aviation and shrink the world for millions of passengers by traveling faster and farther than other, conventional jetliners, without having to refuel.

What an achievement, particularly given the era in which the 747 was created. I wrote Man On The Moon Is Greatest Technological Achievement that highlighted the working environment back in the 1960’s. Joe Sutter had the same constraints the “Man On The Moon” project experienced.

I’ll never forget my first 747 flight from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. I could not fathom that something that big could get off the ground. Our take-off roll seemed to last forever. And, then we lifted off. Wow.

Over 1,500 747 aircraft have been manufactured. It’s looking like production of this magnificent aircraft will end in a few years, 50 years after initial production. It’s been an amazing, impactful run.

I applaud Boeing, it’s board of directors and those on the 747 team for taking the risk to create and produce this marvelous innovation. Bret Taylor, CEO of Quip (recently sold to Salesforce.com for $750 million), says, “Companies die when they are afraid to fail.” Boeing wasn’t afraid to fail.

Thought for the week:

Behind every fear
an OPPORTUNITY hides.

Face your fears and
expand your CONFIDENCE.

– Gordana Biernat @MyPowertalk on Twitter

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What do you think? I welcome your comments! Dave Gardner
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Dave Gardner
Dave Gardner is a management consultant, speaker, blogger and author based in Silicon Valley. He’s been in the front row for the birth and evolution of Silicon Valley, the innovation capital of the world. Since 1992, Dave Gardner has focused on making the complex simple. He can be reached through his website, www.DaveGardner.biz, or via phone at +1 408-475-7068.
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