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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Harold W. Zipp Collection

Identifier: 1992-11-12
The Harold W. Zipp Collection documents Zipp's career at The Boeing Company in both Wichita, Kansas and Seattle, Washington with documents and photographs. The bulk of the collection relates to Zipp's tenure in Wichita before his transfer to Boeing in Seattle in 1952.

Series I. Textual materials includes logbooks, diaries, newspaper clippings, illustrations, engineering drawings, brochures, membership certificates, speech transcripts, and business and personal correspondence. His diaries, which make up the bulk of the series, are primarily in the form of datebooks and include both details from his professional and personal life spanning the 1940s and early 1950s. Of special note are his discussions of aircraft, development of new aircraft, notable cross country flights, airplane crashes, and issues relating to the atomic bomb.

Series II. Photographs includes 236 prints related to his career. The bulk of the images are black-and-white professional prints, most being official Stearman Company or Boeing company photographs. The images include group portraits of Zipp and his colleagues, posed images of men at desks and in meetings, pinning ceremonies, and views of aircraft, especially Stearman models. Most of the images have no identifications or contextual information, though staff have identified Zipp and some of his colleagues, such as Julius E. Schaeffer. There are some loose scrapbook pages which include a mix of professional and snapshot-type images as well as a few pieces of printed ephemera. It is unclear who disassembled the scrapbook or when.


  • circa 1930-1971
  • Majority of material found within 1930-1951


Language of Materials

All materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Museum of Flight (TMOF) Archives is the owner of the physical materials in the archives and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from TMOF archives before any publication use. TMOF does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.


2 Cubic Feet (Three (3) legal-sized full width document boxes, one (1) flat box)


Harold W. Zipp was an engineer at the Boeing Company for forty years. The collection documents his career, particularly his tenure in Wichita, Kansas, with diaries, photographs and other documents.

Biographical Note: Harold W. Zipp

Harold W. Zipp had a career as an engineer at The Boeing Company that spanned over forty years. Born in 1906 in Lincoln, Nebraska, Zipp graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1930 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. He served in the United States Officers’ Reserve Corps until 1938.

Early in his professional career, Zipp worked for Phillips Petroleum Company and Knoll Aircraft Corporation. He began work as a draftsman at Stearman Aircraft Company in Wichita, Kansas in 1931 and quickly rose through the ranks, becoming Chief Engineer in 1937. In 1950, Zipp was promoted to Executive Engineer, a position which he held for two years before transferring to Boeing headquarters in Seattle, Washington to assume the role of Assistant to the Vice-President of Engineering. Six years later, he was promoted to Assistant to the Headquarters Senior Vice-President, a position he held for six years before being promoted to Director of Engineering Services, a position he kept until his retirement in the early 1970s.

In the mid-1930s, Zipp co-designed the Stearman (1927) PT-13 Kaydet (Model 75), a primary trainer used by the United States Army and Navy to train aviation cadets. As chief engineer during World War II, Zipp was directly involved in many high-profile and often confidential projects developing military aircraft. As reported in an article in the February 1956 issue of Boeing News, during Zipp’s tenure as chief engineer, “... the organization designed and produced numerous trainers, the X-100 attack bomber prototype, and then turned to all-out production of B-29s during World War II. After the war, [Zipp’s] division designed the L-15 Army recon plane and undertook modification of B-20s and B-50s, then moved into B-47 production."

In other professional capacities, Zipp served on various committees and the original Boeing Employees’ Credit Union Board of Directors, referred to by Zipp as "The Employees' Club." He also held officer positions in numerous industry associations and for a time edited the Stearman company newsletter.

In his personal life, Zipp was involved in many recreational and community service organizations and had an active social life with his wife, Pauline, and their son Stephen. Zipp died in 1991 at the age of 84 in Bellevue, Washington.


Boeing Public Relations Office. (February 23, 1956). "Holman, Zipp, Chavey reach quarter century of service." Boeing News, 15(8), 2.
Historical Note: Stearman Aircraft and The Boeing Company “In 1927 Lloyd Stearman left Travel Air Aircraft Co (est. 1924) and joined with the Lyle-Holt Aircraft Corp, Travel Air’s West Coast distributor, to form Stearman Aircraft Co in Venice, CA. Later that year, the company moved to Wichita, KS. The company became a subsidiary of United Aircraft and Transport Corp (UATC) in 1929 and, in September 1931, absorbed UATC’s Northrop Aircraft Corp subsidiary. With the dissolution of UATC in 1934, Stearman became a subsidiary of the Boeing Airplane Co (another former-UATC subsidiary and the parent company of the Boeing Aircraft Co of Seattle, WA), becoming the Stearman Aircraft Division of Boeing Airplane in 1938. In 1941, the Stearman Division of Boeing Airplane became the Wichita Division as part of the pre-war expansion and rationalizing of Boeing Airplane’s various manufacturing subsidiaries, all of which were joined into a single company in the December 1947 merger of Boeing Airplane and Boeing Aircraft.”

Source: Bell, Dana, editor. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum directory of airplanes: Their designers and manufacturers. London: Greenhill Books, 2002. Page 272.


No further accruals are expected.

Existence and Location of Copies

Materials from this collection have been digitized and are available at The Museum of Flight Digital Collections.


Guide to the Harold W. Zipp Collection
Completed - Level 4
A. Heidrick and J. Gimse; Revisions by N. Davis
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement
3rd Edition

Revision Statements

  • November 2018: Finding aid migrated to ArchivesSpace.
  • March 2019: Finding aid updated to align with new processing guidelines.
  • January 2024: Two diary pages returned from exhibit.

Repository Details

Part of the The Museum of Flight Archives Repository

9404 East Marginal Way South
Seattle Washington 98108-4097

The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
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