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Author Topic:   Hickman SEA SLED and Boeing
jimh posted 11-26-2013 12:38 PM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
In a documentary film about the history of the Boeing aircraft company that I recently watched, it was mentioned that following the end of The Great War, Boeing switched their production from aircraft to boats. They made boats described as "sea sleds". From the motion-picture films shown, the boats appear to be similar in design to the Hickman Sea Sled.

I thought it quite interesting that Boeing had made boats using the sea sled design. The era of their production was in the 1920's. The documentary suggested that upon adoption of the Prohibition Amendment, sales of the very fast sea sled boats built by Boeing increased rapidly, presumably to rum runners. When demand for airplanes returned, Boeing left the boat building business and returned to aircraft production.

The tie-in to Boston Whaler boats is the common heritage. The Boston Whaler classic hull design is a derivative from the Hickman Sea Sled. Apparently the sea sled design fell out of favor in the 30 years between c.1930 and c.1960, when Richard T. Fisher began to experiment with boats.

I don't recall hearing previously about Boeing making sea sleds. It might be an interesting topic for further historical inquiry by any Boston Whaler historians in the Seattle area.

The documentary on Boeing also contained another surprise for me. Boeing's family was from the Detroit area. Boeing's father had come to Michigan in the days of the timber boom and made a fortune. His wealth came not only from timber but from taconite ore found on the land after the trees were cut. With my Michigan roots I was surprised that I had not come across this connection of Boeing and Michigan before. It seems all but forgotten around here.

tjxtreme posted 11-26-2013 01:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for tjxtreme    
Interesting. It looks like Boeing actually used the Hickman patents:

1920 Excerpt from Aircraft Journal dq=boeing%20sea%20sled&pg=PA33#v=onepage&q&f=false

It also mentions 1600 HP versions (4 400 HP engines)

jimh posted 11-26-2013 01:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
An excellent find! Thanks for that link.
Binkster posted 11-26-2013 01:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for Binkster  Send Email to Binkster     
I think the early Boston Whaler hulls were very loosely based on the Hickman Sea sled. The changes that Dick Fisher and Ray Hunt made to the original design created for better or worse the Cathedral or Tri Hull Design. I can't find any evidence of this design hull before 1958.


Mambo Minnow posted 11-26-2013 06:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for Mambo Minnow  Send Email to Mambo Minnow     
Boeing mixed both technologies and was a notable pre-war flying boat manufacturer.

The Pan Am Clippers that spanned the Pacific Ocean for commercial flights before WWII were flying boats that took off on and landed on the water. One model they used was the Boeing 314 flying boat.

The Clipper ships refueled in places such as Hawaii, Guam, Wake and Midway and the Phillipine Islands.

jimh posted 11-30-2013 12:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The Wikipedia article cited by Rich takes most of its information about the hull design from my articles, as indicated by the many references in the Wiki article. It fails to give a source for any of the quoted material attributed to Fisher. I recommend you rely on my article about the history of the original hull. See

Thirteen years ago, in 2000, in my interview with Jamie Mills in Whaler Radio, there is also a mention of the Hickman Sea Sled influence. Jamie Mills recounts his father's reaction to seeing the early Boston Whaler:

My rather tells me the story; he walked in, took one look at this boat, and broke out laughing. And, of course, Mister Fisher was not totally pleased with his reaction. However, when my father said, "I know what this boat is--it's a Hickman Sea Sled," Dick Fisher's eyes lit up. [Fisher] said, "How the hell do you know anything about a Hickman Sea Sled?"

The implication of that conversation is that Fisher was surprised that anyone was aware of the Hickman Sea Sled and could see the connection to the design of his new boat.

jimh posted 11-30-2013 12:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
ASIDE: The Boeing yacht shown in the documentary is named TACONITE. The classic vessel survives to this day, and is apparently available for charter. See

Again, I find the connection to Michigan of Boeing to be quite surprising and previously unknown to me.

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