Engineering a Bright Future

By Floyd Lukecart

December 2015

After mustering out of the U.S. Air Force in 1958 as an aircraft instrument repairman, troubleshooting aircraft instrument systems and repairing and certifying instruments, I applied for a job at The Boeing Company. I was offered a job in Seattle as an instrument repair person, which I accepted.

Preparing for my first day at work, I dressed in my brogans (military boots) and fatigues -- thinking I would be working on the flight line at Boeing Field. Much to my surprise, I ended up at the Missile Production Center (an old Ford plant) on East Marginal Way and was handed a white gown to put on and assigned to the Calibration and Certification group supporting the BOMARC program. I was a little embarrassed with my dress code, as the rest of the technicians were in dressy clothes under their white gowns. The next day I conformed to the laboratory dress code.

Working at the MPC Calibration and Certification Lab was very challenging, certifying test equipment to enable the BOMARC missile quality control to have and maintain a 99.9 percent goal. Some of the interesting times during my employment there was seeing German V-2 rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, touring the BOMARC assemble line, and just seeing the BOMARC missile assembly line in production.

In those days, everyone had to punch a time clock coming to and leaving work. When the time came to leave for the parking lots across from the plant, workers would stream across East Marginal Way like a herd of cattle when the light changed. This happened at Plant 2 also. Later, for safety's sake, pedestrian tunnels were made for the workers to cross East Marginal Way at quitting time.

All of the telephones (our shop had one telephone) were black and the Boeing phone number prefix was JU (Juniper).

Boeing sent me to electronic and math classes taught over on Harbor Island. This helped me at my job and prepared me for enrolling at the University of Idaho in electrical engineering in 1960. The next summer (1961), I was hired back to work at the Calibration/Certification laboratory at East Field while on summer break from the U of I. There we watched the test flights of the new 737, which at the time was thought not to be a plane of the future.

Boeing gave me a leave of absence for the 1962 summer, but when reporting for work, there was no position available for summer student work; seems that the Dyna-Soar program had been canceled and no summer jobs were available. I would not work for Boeing again until 1965 when I graduated with a Bachelor of Science (electrical engineering) from the U of I. Much credit is given to Boeing for helping me prepare for an engineering career.

Thank you, Boeing!