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November second, 1947:
Scheduled only for engine and water handling tests,
Howard Hughes surprises the world by flying for over a mile,
the giant craft known by then as......

Author's Note: This is the oldest and, over the course of years, the most visited story on this website. The Spruce Goose was the motivation for beginning All Aviation FlightLine OnLine. At the time I wrote this, the "Spruce Goose" was sitting, seemingly forgotten, under a temporary structure at the Evergreen Aviation facility on Highway 26, across the highway from the museum that was completed in 2000 in which it now resides as the centerpiece of the wonderful Evergreen vintage aircraft collection. It seemed to be begging to have its story told and even more, the airplane seemed to be asking for help. I could not resist. I invite you to read about how it got where it is today and to CLICK HERE for a look at its new home, or as it was being prepared for display within that new home several years ago when I last visited the airplane that wound up changing my life. On further note, pardon our dust, this website is receiving a long-overdue face lift and some pages on it may not have been completed yet.

click here for more Hughes Racer photos and informationThe Hughes Racer, Hughes H-1 was the first aircraft designed by this amazing man. In 2001, Jim Wright and a group of builders created a perfect full scale replica which was so accurate, it was given the serial number H-1 sn#2 by the FAA. Before the airplane and Jim Wright were lost in a tragic accident, we were able to spend much time with the man and his airplane. Click Here or on the image above for many more photos and details.


When America entered the second world war our geographic isolation from the areas of conflict gave us a distinct advantage over our enemies. The technology of the time simply made it too difficult for those fighting against us to mount serious action against our homeland. In the end, this advantage left us the time and manufacturing power to smother our foes with an unending supply of the materials necessary to wage war. But we also had to overcome the vast distances, we had to find ways to safely deliver these materials, and men to use them, to the areas of conflict around the world. At the time, ships were the only way to get the job done and the men doing it were finding that it was very dangerous work! Shipyards across America were at full production but enemy submarines were sinking the critical vessels nearly as fast as they could be built. Something had to be done.

The idea for the HK-1flying boat came from Henry Kaiser....Head of one of the largest shipbuilding firms of the time, Kaiser thought a ship that could fly over the danger might be the answer. Howard Hughes was known as an innovator in aircraft construction and design. These two men, both legends in their own time, would launch the venture to build the huge craft. (originally three were to be built ) The new plane's official name bore the initials of the principals in the project HK-1....But to most of us it's always just been "Spruce Goose".

The huge plane would be made primarily of wood, saving materials critical to the war effort. The difficulties creating such a large airframe made of wood were unknown at the beginning of construction and would prove to be many. The final product is a tribute to the efforts of the team in overcoming the problems they faced. A structure made of lumber was created that, even on close inspection, bears little resemblance to any form of wood! Hughes would prove to be a demanding taskmaster during the period of development and construction. His attention to detail and insistence everything on the new plane be nearly perfect, was largely responsible for both the beauty of the finished product and it's not being ready to fly until after the war had ended.

The timing of completion and final cost brought Hughes and the project under the critical eye of the post-war congress, one Senator grudgingly referring to the plane as "The flying lumberyard". Howard Hughes was called to Washington D.C. to defend both the project and himself. During a break in the hearings, he flew back to California to conduct a test on the "Goose", it was during this test the accidental flight took place. This event, whether intended or not, put a halt to critics of the project and served as the finale for this gigantic aircraft ...... the project was dead. Though his feathers had been ruffled by the intense questioning he had endured, the flight had vindicated Hughes and the project. The H-4, which by now would be known forever as the "Spruce Goose", was put into storage . It remained hidden from public view, carefully preserved, until after Howard Robard Hughes death in April of 1976.

With the war ended, the need for this type of craft was gone....or was it? Modern cargo transport planes bear striking resemblance to the old wood flying boat in some important ways. (squint your eyes just right and the H-4, shown in this picture, begins to look like a C-5) With the optional doors installed, the large opening front would have allowed drive-on access for large vehicles and quick load and unload times. The Spruce Goose was intended to carry up to 750 fully equipped troops, or two Sherman class tanks . Hughes and his team had broken ground in the development of this plane, that they did it in wood is even more remarkable. Though the project finished behind schedule....they were ahead of their time!

click image to view  picture of HK-1 under construction with doors installed!



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