In 1926 the principle utility of the airplane was carrying mail. On rare occasions a mechanic, a relief pilot, or possibly an airline official would hitch a ride atop a cargo of mail sacks in the compartment provided for that purpose located in front of the pilot. With a number of ocean crossings that focused attention on aviation in 1927, the Boeing Company realized the growing need for an airplane that could carry an occasional passenger and baggage along with the normal daily payload of mail.

Two dozen models answering such a purpose were produced that year and wçre designated the 40-A. The pilot was still isolated in his cockpit outside, but a small compartment forward and just behind the newly designed Pratt and Whitney 9 cylinder wasp power plant allowed for two passengers and their baggage. The model was an immediate success and revolutionary for its time. By 1929, most of the 40-A’s had been converted to accommodate two more passengers and greater cargos. This modification was redesigned as the 40-B.

The venerable old “A” model seen here in Varney livery is ready to leave United Airlines terminal hanger situated close to Broadway
Avenue in Boise, Idaho where it crosses over the Boise River. This hanger was a typical United design and used throughout their system; it was moved to its present site south of Boise about 1936. Though swallowed up by many succeeding additions, it still forms the core of Boise’s municipal terminal. The last vestige of this hanger was demolished with Boise’s newest terminal renovation in 2003.