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A. B. Wilson Communications
New Life Along an Old Stream

This speech was delivered by Boeing President Harry C. Stonecipher at the dedication of the Boeing Aerospace Support Center at Kelly Air Force Base in Texas on August 12, 1998. The audience included Texas Governor Bush and members of the Texas Congressional Delegation.

“Time,” said Thoreau, “is the stream I go fishing in.”

That is a nice thought on this occasion.

When you think of a stream, you think of a renewable resource -- one that will continue to support homes, and farms, and fishing . . . as long as the people who live and play along its banks continue to treat the stream with care and respect.

In the time-stream of history, the banks cut by the aerospace industry in state of Texas are long and deep.

One of your cities, home to the Johnson Space Center, is famous around the world for the telephone calls it has taken from outer space. Everyone remembers the words, “The Eagle has landed.” Just as vividly, in recalling one of the great rescue operations of all time, people remember the words -- “Houston, we have a problem.”

The Dallas-Fort Worth area is home to two of our greatest airlines -- American, which moved there in 1979, and Southwest, which is, in a cultural as well as an economic sense, one of your state’s biggest exporters.

All three U.S. military services have major air bases in Texas. There is the Army Air Base at Fort Hood, outside Austin. There are Naval Air Stations in Corpus Christi, Kingsville and Meridian.

And right here, side by side in the San Antonio area, you have Kelly Air Force Base -- as part of the Materials Command -- and Lackland Air Force Base -- home of the largest training wing in the Air Force.

All that represents an incredibly rich collection of aerospace assets . . . one that all of you should be proud of.

There were some long faces around here not too long ago when Kelly -- the oldest air base in continuous operation in the United States -- was one of those put on the list for closure as part of the massive ongoing cutbacks in military capacity dictated by the end of the Cold War.

But you won’t see weeds growing out of the concrete around here. Not now or any time soon.

Thanks to the inspired efforts of good many people here today . . . and most especially those of San Antonio community . . . Kelly has won a new lease on life as the site of the newly established Boeing Aerospace
Support Center.

This represents a major new enterprise for The Boeing Company. We aim to become the preeminent provider of maintenance and modification of large military aircraft. This is a major element of a broadened and increased focus on the part of The Boeing Company in providing a full spectrum of support services for our customers. We see this as a big and important business -- one that is going to experience steady growth even as the DOD procurement and R&D budgets continue to drop.

Many -- in fact, most -- of the airplanes that will be serviced here were designed and built by The Boeing Company. And of course that includes the first plane that we see here today -- a C-17, nearly five years old, that has logged over 3,200 flight hours.

Why did we choose Kelly and San Antonio?

There were many reasons. They include a highly skilled workforce, excellent facilities and a great work ethic. More than that, you are part of a long tradition of enthusiasm and support for all things aerospace.

That is something that we at The Boeing Company have known and appreciated for a long time. Almost wherever you look in this state -- wherever you find major concentrations of aerospace activity -- you find that the stream is well stocked with Boeing products and Boeing people. 

If I may close on something of a sentimental note, I should like to point out that Kelly Air Force Base . . . and The Boeing Company . . . share a common birth date. We were both founded in 1916, or just 13 years after the Wright Brothers flew for the first time at Kitty Hawk.

In our different ways, both of us were pioneers in the early days of aviation. Together, looking far into the future, we will act as  pioneers in bringing a new level of excellence and affordability in a key service to our customers in U.S. Armed Services.

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Andrew B. Wilson

26 Taylor Place Drive
St. Louis, MO 63108
Phone: (314) 361-1195

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