Three centuries later, Mobile's Brookley Aeroplex will become the home of Airbus manufacturing on US soil, and perhaps the beginning of a more dramatic strategic shift for the Franco-German airframer. (Read our full analysis here.)
To conserve space, we'll fast forward our timeline to the very beginning of this century, with the first contact between Airbus and Mobile officials.
2002 - As Airbus opens an engineering centre in Wichita, North American chairman Allan McArtor discusses opening a Mobile site with then-US Representative Sonny Callahan, an Alabama Repbulican.
7 April 2004 - Airbus announces new facility to support US Coast Guard training centre in Mobile.
5 May 2005 - In bid for USAF tanker contract, Mobile named among four finalist sites for A330-based tanker modifications
22 June 2005 -- EADS selects Mobile as A330 tanker modification centre
2007 - Airbus opens an engineering centre in Mobile.
14 January 2008 - Airbus commits to establish an A330 Freighter aircraft final assembly line in Mobile, conditioned on if the Northrop Grumman/EADS North America KC-30 bid wins the USAF tanker contest.
29 February 2008 - Northrop/EADS team wins USAF tanker contract, prepares to open A330F final assembly line in Mobile.
19 June 2008 - Government Accountability Office finds errors in bidding process, urges USAF to overturn contract and start a new competition.
1 October 2009 - Airbus establishes MRO center at Mobile regional airport to support US military C-212 and CN-235s, plus US Coast Guard HC-144s.
24 February 2010 - USAF releases new request for proposals for KC-X tanker contract.
24 February 2011 -- EADS loses second tanker competition to Boeing, but notes "this is one business opportunity among many for EADS in the United States".
2 July 2012 - Airbus commits to build $600 million final assembly centre for A320s in Mobile.
Early 2013 - Airbus plans ground-breaking ceremony for A320 final assembly complex
2015 - First A320 to be inducted into final assembly centre
2016 - First delivery of an A320 scheduled to a US customer
2017 - Mobile FAL expected to reach peak rate of between 40 and 50 A320s per year