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Photo From First Boeing 707 During Tex Johnston’s Legendary Barrel Roll

Boeing Dash 80 barrel roll above Seattle Seafair, August, 1955. Photo from Boeing.

Boeing Dash 80 barrel roll above Seattle Seafair, August, 1955. Photo from Boeing. Click for larger.

If you haven’t seen the video of the first Boeing 707 (called the Dash 80 at the time) completing a barrel rolled by legend Tex Johnston, you might not fully appreciate this photo to the fullest. From Boeing’s Flickr page:

“In August, 1955, Boeing test pilot Tex Johnston performed a now legendary barrel roll of the Model 367-80 as part of that year’s Seafair festival on Lake Washington. This photo was taken by co-pilot Jim Gannett.

Known as the Dash 80, this airplane was the prototype for the 707 commercial plane and KC-135 military refueling jet.

The 707 helped move commercial aviation into the jet age and was the first to carry the now iconic “7 series” Boeing model designation.

The Dash 80 today is displayed at the National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center outside Washington, D.C.”

This is the first Boeing 367-80 (Dash 80) was the prototype for what became the KC-135 and the Boeing 707. Photo by Boeing.

This is the first Boeing 367-80 (Dash 80) was the prototype for what became the KC-135 and the Boeing 707. Photo by Boeing.

The punch-line is that Boeing did not know that Tex was going to do the barrel roll. The idea was to show the public and potential airline customers that the 707 was safe. From a previous interview with Boeing Historian Michael Lombardi, he explained, “Then you have Tex Johnson who did the barrel roll, doing his part to get people feeling that jets were safeā€¦ that was the whole idea. Before that the British had come out with the Comet and it had a few problems. Because of the comets problems, coming apart at altitude, the public view of jets was that they were just not safe.”

Seattle’s Seafair is going on once again this weekend and the Boeing 747-8 is scheduled to fly on Sunday, August 7th at 3:50pm over the crowds, much like the Boeing 707 did 56 years ago. Currently, it has not known if it will be the 747-8 Freighter or the 747-8 Intercontinental, but I am hoping for the glowing orange 747-8I. Just don’t expect any barrel rolls!