Johnson, Philip G. (Philip Gustav), 1894-1944

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Aviation industry pioneer.

Philip Gustav Johnson was a pioneer in the manufacturing of airplanes and in the organization of commercial airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Born in Seattle on 5 Nov. 1894, Johnson was the son of Swedish immigrants Charles S. and Hanna (Gustavson) Johnson. He attended Seattle grade schools and graduated from Broadway High School on Capitol Hill. Johnson was a mechanical engineering student in the University of Washington College of Engineering when the Boeing engineering department recruited him in 1917. He held successive positions in the Engineering Department (1917-1918), the Production Department (1918-1919), as Superintendent (1919-1922), as Vice-president, and as General Manager (1922-1926), becoming president of the company in 1926. He was president of four companies that preceded United Airlines--Boeing Air Transport, Pacific Air Transport, National Air Transport and Varney Air Lines--and in 1933, of United Aircraft and Transport Company, the parent company merging Boeing, Pratt & Whitney, and other companies. In 1934, as a result of the scandal surrounding the assignment of air mail contracts, Johnson resigned his position as president. Among the conditions allowing airlines to bid for new air mail contracts was the requirement that the company not employ any executives present at the 1930 "spoils conference" with Postmaster General Brown, where lucrative air mail contracts had been allotted. Johnson resigned his position with Boeing, leaving for Canada in 1937 to assume the post of Vice-President in charge of operations for Trans-Canada Air Lines. Simultaneously, he was president of Kenworth Motor Truck Company, a position he held until his death in 1944. In 1939, the legislation that had driven Johnson out of Boeing was rescinded. With the company losing money and with an increased demand for aircraft in wartime, Johnson returned to Seattle and resumed the presidency of Boeing, supervising the production of the B-17 Flying Fortress bombers and putting Boeing back on its feet financially. Johnson also served on the Board of Directors for the Pacific National Bank, Puget Sound Power and Light, and Puget Sound Navigation Company; he was also named the "First Citizen" of Seattle in 1943. Phil Johnson died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Wichita, Kan., on 14 Sept. 1944, while on business for Boeing.

From the description of Philip G. Johnson scrapbooks and other material, 1913-1960 (bulk 1925-1945). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 159953849

Philip Gustav Johnson was a pioneer in the manufacturing of airplanes and in the organization of commercial airlines in the United States and Canada. Born in Seattle on November 5, 1894, Johnson was the son of Swedish immigrants Charles S. and Hanna (Gustavson) Johnson. He attended Seattle grade schools and graduated from Broadway High School on Capitol Hill.

Johnson was a mechanical engineering student in the University of Washington College of Engineering when the Boeing engineering department recruited him in 1917. He held successive positions in the Engineering Department (1917-1918), the Production Department (1918-1919), as Superintendent (1919-1922), as Vice-president, and as General Manager (1922-1926), becoming president of the company in 1926. He was president of four companies that preceded United Airlines--Boeing Air Transport, Pacific Air Transport, National Air Transport and Varney Air Lines--and in 1933, of United Aircraft and Transport Company, the parent company merging Boeing, Pratt & Whitney, and other companies.

In 1934, as a result of the scandal surrounding the assignment of air mail contracts, Johnson resigned his position as president. Among the conditions allowing airlines to bid for new air mail contracts was the requirement that the company not employ any executives present at the 1930 “spoils conference” with Postmaster General Brown, where lucrative air mail contracts had been allotted. Johnson resigned his position with Boeing, leaving for Canada in 1937 to assume the post of Vice-President in charge of operations for Trans-Canada Air Lines. Simultaneously, he was president of Kenworth Motor Truck Company, a position he held until his death in 1944.

In 1939, the legislation that had driven Johnson out of Boeing was rescinded. With the company losing money and with an increased demand for aircraft in wartime, Johnson returned to Seattle and resumed the presidency of Boeing, supervising the production of the B-17 Flying Fortress bombers and putting Boeing back on its feet financially.

Johnson also served on the Board of Directors for the Pacific National Bank, Puget Sound Power and Light, and Puget Sound Navigation Company; he was also named the “First Citizen” of Seattle in 1943.

Johnson married Catherine Foley in 1925; the Johnson’s had two children, Esther (b. 1926) and Philip G. Jr.(b. 1930). Phil Johnson died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Wichita, Kansas, on September 14, 1944, while on business for Boeing.

From the guide to the Philip G. Johnson scrapbooks and other material, 1913-1960, 1925-1945, (Museum of History & Industry Sophie Frye Bass Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Johnson, Philip G. (Philip Gustav), 1894-1944. Philip G. Johnson scrapbooks and other material, 1913-1960 (bulk 1925-1945). Museum of History and Industry
creatorOf Philip G. Johnson scrapbooks and other material, 1913-1960, 1925-1945 Museum of History & Industry Sophie Frye Bass Library
referencedIn Alumni Association (University of Michigan), Individual Photographs, ca. 1880-ca. 1960s Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith A. Doyle person
associatedWith Black, Hugo LaFayette, 1886-1971. person
associatedWith Blank & Stoller corporateBody
associatedWith Blank & Stoller Corp. corporateBody
associatedWith Boeing Airplane Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Boeing, William Edward, 1881-1956. person
associatedWith Brown, Walter F. (Walter Folger), 1869-1961. person
associatedWith Fabian Bachrach person
associatedWith Fayer Camera Portraits corporateBody
associatedWith Gene Garrett person
associatedWith Jacobs, Frank person
associatedWith Kaiden Kazanjian person
associatedWith Margaret Bourke-White person
associatedWith Marvin Tripp person
associatedWith Moulin, Gabriel person
associatedWith Ray Hart person
associatedWith Trans-Canada Airlines. corporateBody
associatedWith United Aircraft & Transport Corporation. corporateBody
associatedWith United Airlines. corporateBody
associatedWith United Air Lines corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Congress. Senate. Special Committee to Investigate Air and Ocean Mail Contracts. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. Alumni Association. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Washington (State)--Seattle
Seattle (Wash.)
Seattle (Washington)
Subject
Seattle
Aircraft industry--Washington (State)--Seattle
Photographs
Scrapbooks
Air mail service
Governmental investigations
Aircraft industry
Transportation
Military
Air Mail Service--United States--1930-1940
Airplanes
B-17 bomber
Airlines
Labor unions
Occupation
Businessmen--Washington (State)--Seattle
Activity

Person

Birth 1894-11-05

Death 1944-09-14

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