Spruce Goose First (And Only) Flight - November 2, 1947

Discussion in 'Post-War' started by ToughOmbre, Nov 2, 2009.

  1. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    The Hughes Flying Boat--the largest aircraft ever built--is piloted by designer Howard Hughes on its first and only flight. Built with laminated birch and spruce, the massive wooden aircraft had a wingspan longer than a football field and was designed to carry more than 700 men to battle.

    Howard Hughes was a successful Hollywood movie producer when he founded the Hughes Aircraft Company in 1932. He personally tested cutting-edge aircraft of his own design and in 1937 broke the transcontinental flight-time record. In 1938, he flew around the world in a record three days, 19 hours, and 14 minutes.

    Following the U.S. entrance into World War II in 1941, the U.S. government commissioned the Hughes Aircraft Company to build a large flying boat capable of carrying men and materials over long distances. The concept for what would become the "Spruce Goose" was originally conceived by the industrialist Henry Kaiser, but Kaiser dropped out of the project early, leaving Hughes and his small team to make the H-4 a reality. Because of wartime restrictions on steel, Hughes decided to build his aircraft out of wood laminated with plastic and covered with fabric. Although it was constructed mainly of birch, the use of spruce (along with its white-gray color) would later earn the aircraft the nickname Spruce Goose. It had a wingspan of 320 feet and was powered by eight giant propeller engines.

    Development of the Spruce Goose cost a phenomenal $23 million and took so long that the war had ended by the time of its completion in 1946. The aircraft had many detractors, and Congress demanded that Hughes prove the plane airworthy. On November 2, 1947, Hughes obliged, taking the H-4 prototype out into Long Beach Harbor, CA for an unannounced flight test. Thousands of onlookers had come to watch the aircraft taxi on the water and were surprised when Hughes lifted his wooden behemoth 70 feet above the water and flew for a mile before landing.

    Despite its successful maiden flight, the Spruce Goose never went into production, primarily because critics alleged that its wooden framework was insufficient to support its weight during long flights. Nevertheless, Howard Hughes, who became increasingly eccentric and withdrawn after 1950, refused to neglect what he saw as his greatest achievement in the aviation field. From 1947 until his death in 1976, he kept the Spruce Goose prototype ready for flight in an enormous, climate-controlled hangar at a cost of $1 million per year. Today, the Spruce Goose is housed at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.

    TO
     
  2. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    It really is a shame she never flew again. It's on my "must see before I die" list.
     
  3. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    Definitely would be cool to see.
     
  4. wheelsup_cavu

    wheelsup_cavu Well-Known Member

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    All those years in Long Beach and I never went...
    I never thought they would move her.


    Wheels
     
  5. Pong

    Pong Active Member

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    Would have been an awesome sight to see the giant lift off the water and fly for a short period of time. Great post T.O.

    -Arlo
     
  6. BikerBabe

    BikerBabe Active Member

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  7. Aaron Brooks Wolters

    Aaron Brooks Wolters Well-Known Member

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    It would have been neat to hear those eight engines lifting her off the water.:cool:
     
  8. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    According to the guide at the Evergreen Air Museum (which also houses a P-38, and is working to get ahold of a space shuttle), Disney owned the Goose for many years, trying to figure out how to make it into an attraction, but found the expenses of maintaining the bird way too high. They were going to cut it up and sell pieces off to various museums when the owner/founder of Evergreen heard about it and raised the money to buy, dismantle, transport, build a showroom big enough to hold her, and reassemble the plane in its entirety. The museum itself is worth a visit if you live on the West coast, and the Spruce Goose is well worth the pilgrimage for the rest of us!

    I know these aren't the best photos ever, but I didnt' bring my wide-angle lens in with me, so the rest of my Spruce Goose pics are massively huge. The first shot is my first ever encounter with a P-38, above which you can see the wing of the Spruce Goose. The second one is me leaning up against the nose of the plane.
     

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  9. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    Nice RA!

    That's a good lookin' Lightning. Must look small under that wing.

    TO
     
  10. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    #10 Messy1, Nov 4, 2009
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2009
    Grerat pics RA. Give you a idea of how big that plane is. All you see from one side to the other above the lightning is SG wing!
     
  11. wheelsup_cavu

    wheelsup_cavu Well-Known Member

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    Great pics RA.
    She dwarfs that P-38. :lol:


    Wheels
     
  12. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    #12 RabidAlien, Nov 6, 2009
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2009
    I'll have to dig, but underneath the tail section is a B-25. The -25 looks like a kid's toy!

    ETA: Found all my Portland vacation pics, I'll resize them and post them later tonight...gotta get ready for work right now!
     
  13. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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