Every day millions of people around the world take to the skies in Boeing airliners that Philip Condit, as an engineer, manager, and leader helped to give wing! A native of California, Condit was born in 1941 and grew up fascinated by flight. He earned a pilot’s license at 18 and then went to the University of California at Berkeley. He gained an undergraduate mechanical engineering degree in 1963 and then, at Princeton University, added a master’s in aeronautical engineering in 1965. That year, Condit received a patent for a flexible wing design, the “sailwing,” and began a career at Boeing. He first worked on the supersonic transport program, and in 1968 was promoted to lead engineer, 747 High-Speed Configuration.
Only the supersonic Concorde cruises faster than the 747. After serving as Manager, Quiet Short-Haul System Development from 1971 to 1973, he led marketing for the 727 and it became a bestseller. During 1974-1975, on a Sloan Fellowship, Condit studied management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He returned to Boeing as Manager of New Program Planning and in 1976 moved to the 707/727/737 division. In 1978, he became Chief Project Engineer for the 757 and ultimately by 1983 rose to vice president of the Renton Division, which built all the narrow-body Boeing airliners. In 1984, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics presented Condit a National Aircraft Design Award for the team design of the Boeing 757 and its wide-body twin, the 767. That year, he was promoted to Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplane Company; he served during a period of exceptional sales.
In 1986, he was appointed Executive Vice President of Commercial Airplane Operations and then, in 1989, took over general management of the new airplane division. In 1990, representatives of eight airlines from around the world began regular “working together” meetings with Boeing. Under Condit’s leadership, design/build teams of customers, suppliers, and employees designed the 777. They used a computer-aided design system that fit parts together in cyberspace before any metal was cut. Their work earned the Collier Trophy in 1995 for the year’s greatest achievement in aeronautics and astronautics in America. In 1992, Condit was elected President, The Boeing Company and in 1996 also became Chief Executive Officer. In 1997, he became the first westerner to earn a doctorate in engineering from the Science University of Tokyo, and, became the seventh chairman in Boeing’s 82-year history. Condit has set an example of lifelong learning and encourages like-minded employees who make the company the nation’s largest exporter and the world’s largest aerospace company.