Rollout & Christening
On 29 June 2013, at Seattle’s Museum of Flight at Boeing Field, a jubilant crowd witnessed the rollout, christening, and presentation of the Douglas World Cruiser, Seattle II.
The daytime activities began with the opening of the Museum at 10:00 am. Displays in the lobby included a special exhibit on The First World Flight and The Seattle World Cruiser Story; the beautiful, blue Rickenbacker coupe— an example of the automobiles made available by Eddie Rickenbacker to the 1924 world flight pilots--courtesy of Roland Klix, President of the Rickenbacker Car Club of America; and a 10-foot scale model of the Douglas World Cruiser, on loan from Bob Brooke of 3Seabees Model Company. Renowned artist, John Amendola, was present to sign prints of his beautiful painting of the departure of the first world flight, “Let’s Go!”
Outdoors, among vintage cars and display aircraft, the Ballard Sedentary Sousa Band thrilled listeners and set the lively tone for the day’s celebration, playing a special selection of music from around the world, in honor of the first world flight. At 11:00 am, the rollout was announced by the sounds of bagpipes, as a tip of the hat to Donald Douglas, the aircraft’s designer--a Scotsman, and himself, a piper. The World Cruiser, Seattle II, arrived on the scene, towed behind a wonderfully restored 1924 Ford Model T truck, which was donated by Dave Robblee, in honor of the 100th anniversary of his family’s company, The Six Robblees.
Seattle II was presented to the world, among many honored guests, including King County Deputy Executive Fred Jarrett; Boeing Company Historian Michael Lombardi; Federal Aviation Administration representatives Guy Shinkaruk and Mike Harder; Duwamish Tribal Councilman, Kenneth Workman; Tukwila Heritage and Cultural Center Director and Boeing Field Pioneer Descendant Louise Jones-Brown, Museum of Flight Trustee, Brien Wygle; Museum staff; and Seattle World Cruiser Association (SWCA) Board Members.
A highlight of the ceremony was the special blessing of Seattle II of the Duwamish People. The name, “Wheedkwadee-Kalbid,” meaning “Thunder-Canoe,” spoken in native Lushootseed language, was bestowed upon the Seattle World Cruiser by Chief Seattle’s great-great-great-great grandson, Kenneth Workman.
Dr. Diane Dempster, SWCA representative, performed the christening of Seattle II with a bottle of special “Sand Point Water,” fetched a few days earlier, from Lake Washington. This was keeping in the “spirit” of the original prohibition era custom from 1924. Following the christening, Seattle II received a special installation, under FAA supervision, of an original steering wheel from the 1924 Douglas World Cruiser, Seattle, donated to the organization by Lowell Thomas, Jr. With all parts installed, Test Pilot Tom Imrich boarded Seattle II and performed the engine start, and the Mighty 1918 Lincoln Motor Company, Liberty V-12, with its 10’ 4’ propeller, roared to life! The rollout festivities concluded with rousing music from the Ballard Sedentary Sousa Band.
A 6:00 pm reception and celebration showcased achievements of the Seattle World Cruiser Association. Guests enjoyed music by The Hamilton Carson Classic Jazz Quintet; film highlights of the day’s events; and signed a specially designed, commemorative flag, made by Rick White, President of Washington Kitefliers Association, that will accompany the world flight. The evening presentation by SWCA Executive Director, Bob Dempster, and Chief Test Pilot, Tom Imrich, offered an insider’s tour of the next phases of the project: flight test, floats, world flight, and notes on celebrating and preserving the legacy and the artifacts of the 1924 first world flight, aviation history’s second greatest milestone.