1955, when you could pull a stunt like this and get away with a slap on the wrist… Just hope nobody was in the toilet right then.

“What do you think you’re doing!?” “Selling airplanes.”

The test-flying program for the 707 lasted four years. Tex Johnson had his own way of frilling airline executives with demonstration flights.

“IATA, the International Air Transport Association which includes all the airlines of the world had assembled in Seattle for their annual convention and Boeing just happened to have a prototype airplane that was going to shrink the world by a factor of two. I’ve sold fighters and commercial airplanes and you demonstrate them, to impress people with what they’re capable of and I knew the prototype and there’s one maneuver that you can do with no hazard whatsoever. I decided that I would do a roll to impress some people.”

“One of my test engineers had his camera with him and he snapped the picture which is famous today with the airplane on its back, engines up on top of the lane, and the lake Washington below. I was called to Mr. Alex’s office Monday morning and Al asked me what I thought I was doing, I said I was selling airplanes and explained as a 1g maneuver it’s absolutely non-hazardous but it’s very impressive and his comment was you know that now we know that but just don’t do it anymore. It was fine.”


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