Even before there were runways, the area south of the city of Seattle
was Washington’s aviation
hub. Charles Hamilton, a daredevil dubbed “Crazy Man of the Air,” became the first flyer in the state when he coaxed his Curtiss biplane into the sky over Meadows Racetrack in 1910. He promptly crashed. With the help of William Boeing and his growing aviation company, Boeing Field opened in 1928. In those early days, brave air travelers could hitch a ride along with bags of mail in cold, noisy biplanes. Bigger, better aircraft soon followed, but wartime
intervened. Thousands of Flying Fortress bombers emerged from Boeing’s Plant 2 at the edge of the airfield and winged off to war. In the years after, Boeing Field served a dazzling array of winged machines—from the smallest Piper Cub to Air Force One.
Seattle was a relatively minor city before the transcontinental railroad and the Alaska Gold Rush. Americans Wilbur and Orville Wright conducted the first heavier-than-air flight and America has led in aviation innovations ever since. World War II was fought between the Allies and the Axis powers between 1939 and 1945.