LONG BEACH (CBSLA.com) — The final Boeing C-17 Globemaster III military cargo jet made at the company’s Long Beach assembly plant took off Sunday, bound for its new owners in Qatar, and ending a long era of Southland aircraft manufacture.
The aircraft’s takeoff was witnessed by hundreds of spectators and aviation enthusiasts at Long Beach Airport, directly next to the soon-to-be-abandoned production facility at 2401 E. Wardlow Road.
The former McDonnell-Douglas factor roots back to the long-gone Douglas Aircraft Company plant in Santa Monica, which was founded in 1921.
The aircraft factory in Long Beach was built by Douglas during World War II, and Douglas merged with the McDonnell Aircraft Company of St. Louis in 1967.
Being then purchased its smaller, Long Beach-based competitor in 1995.
The c-17 is a military transport jet capable of carrying 82 tons. It was designed in the late 1980s. Boeing continued to build the aircraft for over 20 years in Long Beach, before the U.S. Air Force stopped buying it, at which point international orders slowed to a near-halt.
In September 2013, Boeing announced that the program would come to an end. The final flight included a commemorative “fly over” of the Long Beach facility, where nearly 280 C-17s were assembled, before heading to San Antonio, according to Boeing officials.
The military transport plane is to be housed in San Antonio until it is delivered to the Persian Gulf city of Qatar.
An estimated 2,200 workers at the Long Beach facility will lose their jobs, though many have retired or transferred to other positions within Boeing, according to the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
The 25-acre plant is expected to close by the end of 2015, having also been the home to the MD-80, which was the last domestic competitor to Boeing and its passenger planes.
For a slideshow of this historic final takeoff, visit our gallery here.