Boeing's Ed Wells

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From the B-17 Flying Fortresses of World War II to the Lunar Roving Vehicles that carried astronauts on the moon, many of the biggest advancements in aviation are linked to the achievements of one man, Edward Curtis Wells (1910-1986). As an engineer, a supervisor, and an executive, he did more than any other person to set the standards that characterized the Boeing Company. One of five children in a family of modest circumstances but high expectations, Ed Wells showed his talent at drawing and design even as a ...
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Overview

From the B-17 Flying Fortresses of World War II to the Lunar Roving Vehicles that carried astronauts on the moon, many of the biggest advancements in aviation are linked to the achievements of one man, Edward Curtis Wells (1910-1986). As an engineer, a supervisor, and an executive, he did more than any other person to set the standards that characterized the Boeing Company. One of five children in a family of modest circumstances but high expectations, Ed Wells showed his talent at drawing and design even as a small boy. The family pooled its resources to finance his engineering studies at Stanford, and Boeing was impressed enough by his sketches to hire him for a summer job as an undergraduate. Although Ed had favored a career in automotive engineering, he returned to Boeing after his graduation in 1931, a decision that helped shape the course of modern history. By 1935, when he was twenty-four, he was project manager for an experimental bomber that was to set new standards for size, speed, range, and bombing accuracy. Dubbed by a Seattle newspaper the Flying Fortress, the B-17 became the center of the Allies' bombing campaign against Germany. Without the B-17, said General Tooey Spaatz, the Allies might not have won World War II. In 1943, as Boeing chief engineer, Wells supervised construction and improvements of the even larger B-29 Superfortress, which carried the war to the Japanese homeland and eventually dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. With the advent of jet aviation, Ed led the team that designed the B-52 bomber and its commercial counterparts, the Boeing 707, 727, and 747. During his long career he educated generations of Boeing engineers in his standards. "It was the character of the man, that if you ever had been associated with him you always felt he was your mentor," said T. Wilson, longtime chairman of the board at Boeing. "Ed Wells never encouraged me to do anything for the short-term company gain." In a field full of flamboyant
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Geer draws on the late Edward Curtis Wells's (1910-1986) personal and business papers to portray the life and achievements of the Boeing engineer, supervisor, and executive who was posthumously inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame in 1991. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780295972046
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/1992
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 179

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