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Eddie Hubbard

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Pilot Extraordinaire

Born San Francisco, California

Born January 3, 1889 -
Died December 28, 1928



Among the great names in aviation history, Eddie Hubbard is all but forgotten. But it was Hubbard who convinced a military airplane maker William E. Boeing that money could be made carrying mail and passengers, and thus began what became the world's largest commercial aviation company.

Hubbard died in 1928 at age 39 from surgery complications, cutting short a career as one of Boeing's most trusted advisors and as a pilot whose daring skills made many headlines in Canada and the United States. World War I
air ace Eddie Rickenbacker after seeing Hubbard put on a show over Seattle said, "Many believe him to be the most skilled pilot in America. I can see where he gets that reputation."

An orphan, who grew up in San Francisco, Hubbard began his career as a mechanic after moving to Seattle in 1907. He fell in love with airplanes, earning the first pilot's license issued in Seattle. He joined Boeing in 1916, just as the company was getting organized.

Hubbard was a visionary in many ways. He saw the value to business of quick information. From that, he realized people would pay to have mail flown by airplane. Hubbard carried his boss as passenger in the first North American
International air mail flight from Vancouver, British Columbia to Seattle, March 3, 1919. He continued flying mail and passengers across the border from Seattle to Victoria for seven years. Despite foggy weather over the Strait of Juan de Fuca, he never missed a flight.  The photo below was taken at Boeing's hangar at Lake Union, Seattle March 3, 1919 on the completion of the first North American international air mail flight from Vancouver, British Columbia to Seattle. Hubbard on the left was the pilot. William E. Boeing is on the right holding the Canadian Post Office mail bag. There were 60 envelopes in the bag. If you are fortunate enough to have one it would be worth about $4,300.

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The photo shown below is Hubbard's Boeing B-1 flying boat which he used to fly mail and passengers from Seattle to Victoria, British Columbia between 1920 and 1927.   It was the first commercial airplane built by the Boeing Airplane Company.  It was rebuilt and hangs in the Museum of History & Industry, Seattle.

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In 1927 Hubbard convinced Boeing to bid for the cross-country mail and passenger route from San Francisco to Chicago. He then convinced the company to resurrect a 1925 mail plane prototype upgraded with a metal body, more powerful engine and build twenty-five for the route. That plane, the Model 40, became Boeing's first mass-produced commercial aircraft. Boeing Air Transport, Inc. was established as part of the sprouting empire, which was to include United Air Lines.

Eddie Hubbard became vice-president of Operations headquartered in Salt Lake City. This company made money from day one indicating Hubbard was not only an outstanding pilot, he was also an astute businessman.  Of Hubbard: The Forgotten Boeing Aviator, authored by Jim Brown, William E. Boeing Jr. writes: "He [Hubbard] was a pioneer in private air transportation as well as air mail.  This book chronicles his aeronautical career accurately and in detail."

 

This biography is written by Jim Brown, author of Hubbard: The Forgotten Boeing Aviator.  It is used by permission
of the author and he retains all rights to the material.  It has been slightly modified by the ALLSTAR network. 


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Updated: July 01, 1998