Just inside the entrance is the historic "letter that changed the way the world
flies," the RFP which led to the development of the DC-3.
In the early 1930s, Boeing consisted of both an airplane manufacturing division
and an airline division, the latter eventually becoming United Air Lines.
Boeing's manufacturing division produced the Model
247, a new plane with exceptional capabilities, but which was initially
available exclusively to United; this did not sit well with TWA.
The Model 247, one of the first modern passenger transports, had been built for
United Air Lines, part of Boeing's multifaceted United Aircraft and
With its powerful engines and its single cantilevered wing, the 247 gave United
the ability to offer 10 round trips daily between New York and Chicago.
Although regularly scheduled passenger service began in 1933 with the 247, its
success was also its downfall.
Competitors of United Air Line could not order the new 247 until after the
first 60 airplanes had been delivered to United. However, Jack Frye, vice
president operations of Transcontinental and Western Airways (now Trans World
Airlines), also wanted some 247s. Boeing Aircraft president Claire Egtvedt
asked United Aircraft and Transportation's board of directors to allow TWA to
order 247s after the first 20 had been delivered. The board refused.
Therefore, TWA sent out a request for bids to build a three-engine transport.
The Douglas Aircraft Company in Santa Monica, Calif., won with the twin-engine
was larger and faster than the Model 247. The prototype DC-1 and its
production version, the DC-2, eventually refined as the legendary DC-3, quickly
attracted new customers. By 1939, an estimated 83 percent of the U.S. domestic
scheduled airline service was handled by the DC-2 and the DC-3.
The 247 and the Douglas transports marked the beginning of contemporary
commercial aviation and paved the way for development of large, multiengine