Friday, November 2, 2012
On November 2, 1947, industrialist and movie producer Howard Hughes briefly flew the largest aircraft ever built, the Hughes Flying Boat. It was its first and only flight. In 1941 the U.S. government had commissioned Hughes Aircraft to build a large flying boat capable of carrying men and cargo over long distances. Because of wartime restrictions on steel, Hughes built the vehicle using plastic-laminated wood (mainly birch) covered with fabric. Some use of spruce (and its gray color at the time) earned the aircraft the name “Spruce Goose.” Powered by eight giant propeller engines, it had a wingspan of 320 feet, cost $23 million, and took far too long to build. The war had ended. The aircraft was also deemed infeasible. The Spruce Goose is now housed at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.