The festivities at the Museum of Flight are expected to attract about 100,000 current and former Boeing employees and their families through the weekend.

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More than 3,000 Boeing employees, family members, and retirees gathered at the Museum of Flight Friday to celebrate Boeing’s 100th birthday and kick off a three-day Founders Day Centennial Celebration.

The company is marking a century since it was first incorporated as Pacific Aero Products on July 15, 1916. The festivities are expected to attract about 100,000 current and former Boeing employees and their families through the weekend.

Visitors Friday were treated to roaring flyovers and a display of historic airplanes including the Douglas DC-3 and B-25D Mitchell, which visitors could actually climb into. A full lineup of all of Boeing 7-Series jets was also on display.

Boeing: 100 years of flight

“Few companies have achieved as much as we have,” Boeing CEO and President Dennis Muilenburg told the gathering. “Today we celebrate that legacy together while imagining what comes next.”

Interns and executives addressed the crowd, sharing their personal stories and reflecting on what Boeing has meant.

“What we do matters,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner. “It matters to our customers, it matters to our partners, it matters to the United States, but more importantly, it matters to the world.”

Conner said Boeing has been a bridge between nations and recalled the company’s role in mending fences with countries such as Vietnam. He added that the everyone at the company has “inherited an important legacy, and it is now up to us to pay it forward.”

That sentiment was reiterated by Boeing intern and University of Washington student Olivia Shiffer.

“My generation is riding on the shoulders of everyone who contributed to Boeing’s first century,” said Shiffer. “Someday, if I’m fortunate enough to be working here, I will hoist the next generation on my shoulders.”

The biggest ovation from the crowd came for Mawut Mayen, now a Boeing manager, who grew up as one of the “lost boys of Sudan.”

Separated from his parents at age 4 because of the civil war in his homeland, he and his brother lived in refugee camps in several countries until at 15, he was selected in a lottery to move to the U.S. and settled in Washington.

Mayen said he’d had a lot of friends who were Boeing families, and he decided early that Boeing was where he wanted to work. He earned a degree in economics from Seattle Pacific University, and with the support of Boeing later earned a certificate in aviation flight and a master’s degree in engineering and technology management.

In 2005 Mayen reconnected with his family in Sudan, and he jokes now that his family is proudly a Boeing family too.

“This company is great because of all of us,” said Mayen. “So I’m asking everybody, the Boeing Company, to continue to be innovative, invest in parts of the globe, and make sure that the next generation will have a home.”