“It couldn’t fit more perfectly
Than to have a world party on the day you came to be
Happy birthday to you.”
These words from the jam-worthy song Happy Birthday, written by Stevie Wonder (originally for Martin Luther King Jr.) blasted through speakers as vest-laden, wand-waving Alaska Airlines employees danced enthusiastically.
Behind them, hundreds of local business leaders and state legislators stood in a tight group waving and smiling at the taxiing Boeing 737 with the words “Boeing 100 Years Strong” emblazoned on the side.
This was the scene at The Museum of Flight in Seattle on Thursday morning as Alaska Airlines threw a birthday party for Boeing’s 100th year in business.
As crowds awaited the arrival of the aircraft, they were surprised with the appearance of Alaska Airlines spokesperson, Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks flanked by University of Washington cheerleaders, and accompanied by the school’s marching band. Wilson took time to answer the crowd’s questions and even delivered a few autographs and posed for some selfies.
Guests on-board the aircraft included students from The Museum of Flight’s Aerospace Camping Experience as well as Former Washington State governors Dan Evans, Mike Lowry, Gary Locke, and Christine Gregoire along with Ray Conner, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Brad Tilden, CEO of Alaska Airlines.
Tilden took the stage first and delivered a light-hearted football-themed wedding tribute—on behalf of Alaska Airlines—to Wilson who is engaged to singer, Ciara. After which, Wilson called an audible and announced that $100,000, raised by the business leaders in attendance, would be donated to the Washington Opportunity Scholarship Program which provides low- to middle-class Washingtonians the means to study in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. A donation that Boeing later announced, they would be matching.
Wilson left the stage early for an Alaska Airlines flight to Los Angeles which Tilden joked, “We know that Alaska flight is going to leave on time.”
Tilden spoke of his father, a Boeing engineer, as well as his memories associated with Boeing accomplishments such as the lunar vehicle and the 777. “This is very personal,” he said. “All of us are here today because we have memories like that.”
Next, Gov. Jay Inslee took the stage and spoke of his experiences flying with the Alaska. “I flew with Alaska for 16 years every Monday and Friday on seat 14C,” he said. “I can tell you, every single flight attendant was smiling, every single pilot landed at the right airport, and every single mechanic helped that plane land.”
Additionally, Inslee lauded Boeing on their current and future green, fuel-efficient endeavors.
“Think how far this company has come,” he said. “When you think of how far we’ve come from those days, imagine what the next hundred years could be. It’s very difficult to imagine but we know the sky is the limit.”
Finally, Conner took the stage and reminisced about his partnership with Tilden and Alaska Airlines.
“To be partner with your local airline—as an air plane manufacturer—is really something special,” Conner said of Alaska. “Seeing that ‘Proudly all Boeing’ on the side of that airplane, on the fuselage, means more to our team and to the people of Washington than any single thing that you could possibly think of.”
Conner said Boeing owes its success to the State of Washington.
“The state of Washington has been with us for 100 years,” he said. “Without the state of Washington we wouldn’t have the foundation that we have today.”