Howard Hughes' giant Flying Boat (2023) Howard Hughes' giant Flying Boat (1)

Howard Hughes' giant Flying Boat - Popularlycalled the Spruce Goose
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(Download a higherresolution picture by clicking on any picture below.) Howard Hughes' giant Flying Boat (3) Howard Hughes' giantFlying Boat is now on display at the Evergreen AviationMuseum.

During world War 2, a consortium was formed by Howard Hughesand Henry Kaiser to create a giant, wooden, flying boattransport. The airplane was designated HK-1 for the Hughes-Kaiserconsortium. After Henry Kaiser left the project the designationof the wooden aircraft was changed to H-4. Later, a contestheld among Hughes Aircraft employees produced the nameHercules. Hughes did not like the name Hercules, nor did heappreciate the phrase Spruce Goose. He always referred to theairplane as the Flying Boat.

The wooden buildings in which its components were constructedwere the largest in the world at the time. They still stand atthe old Hughes Airport property.

Most of the wood used in the construction of the Flying Boatwas Birch. The nails used to hold its wooden components in placewere removed once the glue set.

Considerable controversy surrounded its funding. Thegovernment funded the original project, which called for oneprototype Flying Boat and the production of two additionalaircraft. The original government contract budgeted $18million for three aircraft; however Hughes infused $7 million ofhis own capital into the project. Only one flying boat wascompleted. It was flown once in 1947, then it was returned to itshangar, where it remained for thirty-three years. It wascarefully stored, maintained almost as an active aircraft until1980. Each month its engines were run up. An extensive airconditioning system maintained a carefully controlled environmentfor the wooden behemoth.

The Flying Boat was removed from itshangar on October 29, 1980. For two days it floated in LosAngeles Harbor before it was lifted onto a temporary storage areaon shore. On February 10, 1982 it was lifted from its storagelocation onto a barge. The next morning it was floated across theharbor to a giant geodesic dome to be displayed by the WratherCorporation.

Wingspan: 320 feet

Length: 219 feet

Wing Area: 11,430 square feet

Maximum Take-off Weight: 400,000 pounds

Maximum Cargo Payload: 130,000 pounds

Powerplant: 8x 3,000 hp Pratt & Whitney R4360-4, 28 cylinder radials

(Video) Howard Hughes' Massive Flying Boat

The hangar housing Howard Hughes' giant Flying Boat stillstood in July 1980. The airplane had narrowly escaped beingdistributed to nine air museums when Wrather Corporationpurchased it with the intent of creating a tourist attractionadjacent to the Queen Mary in Long Beach Harbor.

The HughesFlying Boat suffered damage when the original hangar flooded inSeptember 1953. This larger hangar was constructed around theFlying Boat.

Watch for this picture to appear in the History Channel production Man, Moment, Machine.

Much of the hangar of the Hughes Flying Boat was removed byOctober 26, 1980 in preparation for floating the airplane out ofthe building. Wrather corporation had ordered that large plastictarps be hung in front of the Flying Boat to obstruct the view ofbay tour boats. Ducting can be seen for the air conditioningsystem that kept the environment of the Flying Boat within anarrow temperature range.

The vertical stabilizer of theHughes Flying Boat can be seen protruding from the partiallydisassembled hangar on the morning of October 29, 1980.

Subsidence resulting from the extraction of petroleum from thearea had lowered the hangar to the point that the floating of theFlying Boat had to be timed to coincide with low tide to allowthe tail to clear the hangar roof.

October 29, 1980, the Hughes FlyingBoat floats out of its hangar for the first time since 1947.

Howard Hughes' Flying Boat emergesfrom its hangar after thirty-three years. This picture will also appear in the History Channel production Man, Moment, Machine.

(Video) Building The Largest Ever Flying Boat | Power: Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose | Spark Howard Hughes' giant Flying Boat (12) You can buy prints up to 11" by 16" or 5" x 7" greeting cards of this photograph.

Since its only flight, the HughesFlying Boat has had R-4360-TSB-3G engines of increased horespowerinstalled, been painted white, and its registration has beenchanged from NX37602 to N37602.

Howard Hughes' Flying Boat floatingin Los Angeles Harbor. Howard Hughes' giant Flying Boat (15) You can buy prints up to 11" by 16" or 5" x 7" greeting cards of this photograph.

The HK-1 Hercules waits while cranesare moved into place to pick up its cradle from the now floodedhangar. Howard Hughes' giant Flying Boat (17) You can buy prints up to 11" by 16" or 5" x 7" greeting cards of this photograph.

The Flying Boat continues to waitas one of the cranes breaks through the hangar floor and sinksinto the saturated ground underneath.

This view of the Hughes Flying Boatshows how aerodynamically clean the design of its fuselage was.

Herman the German, a four hundredton capacity crane seized from Germany at the end of World War 2,is on hand to lift the Hughes Flying Boat out of the water andset her onshore to be stored for the next year.

(Video) The Giants - flying boats

A nervous group confers on the wingof the Hughes Flying Boat at sunset. The plan had not includedleaving the wooden hull in the water overnight.

Sunlight glints from the wings ofthe Hughes Flying Boat on the morning of October 30, 1980. Theflying boat's cradle has been recovered and is suspended fromHerman the German.

The cradle of the Hughes FlyingBoat has been set on the floor of the harbor. The Flying Boat hasbeen floated into place.

Later in the afternoon, as scubadivers are attaching the cradle to the cables of the crane, aLykes Lines cargo ship enters the harbor beyond the Hughes FlyingBoat. Howard Hughes' giant Flying Boat (25) You can buy prints up to 11" by 16" or 5" x 7" greeting cards of this photograph.

Herman the German lifted the HughesFlying Boat onshore during the night. It is seen here sitting onits cradle on the morning of October 31, 1980. A protective coverwas placed over it, and it waited something over a year for itsnew display location on Pier J to be prepared.

Page 2, The Flying Boat gets a new home:

Go to Page 2 of Flying Boat pictures for the history ofthe Flying Boat from 1982 onward.

Martin JRM Mars

Giant Flying Boats

First Flight Wing Span Length Wing Area Gross Weight Engines
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Hughes Flying Boat






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Martin JRM Mars






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6 x 1,000 hp BMW-Bramo Fafnir 323R
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2 x 1,700 hp R2800
Boeing 314






4 x 1,200 hp R2600
Convair PB2Y Coronado






4 x 1,000 hp R1830

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(Video) Spruce Goose Airplane at Los Angeles 1989. Howard Hughes' giant Flying Boat (28) Howard Hughes' giant Flying Boat (29)

Howard Hughes' giant Flying Boat, the Spruce Goose, floated out of the hangar it resided inside for thirty-three years into Los Angeles Harbor on October 29, 1980. It took two days to pick it up with Herman the German and place it on land for temporary storage. On February 10, 1982, it was lifted onto a barge for transportation to the geodesic dome where it was displayed to the public for eleven years. Howard Hughes' giant Flying Boat (30) Put a copy of the Spruce Goose 2020 calendar in your shopping cart for $14.95.

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Links: Howard Hughes' giant Flying Boat (34) Find all about theHoward Hughes giant flying boat at

Link to a page describing the Evergreen Aviation Museum whichis restoring the HughesFlying Boat for display in McMinnville, Oregon.

Barrett Hochaus built a radio-controlled model of Howard Hughes giant Flying Boat, popularly known as the Spruce Goose, with a wing span of nearly ten feet. It is powered by four electric motors. Despite its large size, it wieghs less than seven pounds. It made its maiden flight at the Gilbert Rodeo Grounds on Saturday, January 22, 2011.

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Can the h4 Hercules fly? ›

The Hughes H-4 Hercules (commonly known as the Spruce Goose; registration NX37602) is a prototype strategic airlift flying boat designed and built by the Hughes Aircraft Company.

Does Howard Hughes Spruce Goose still exist? ›

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.

What was the largest seaplane ever built? ›

The Spruce Goose still holds the record for the largest seaplane, the largest wooden aircraft, and the largest propeller plane ever built.

Did the Spruce Goose actually fly? ›

In 1947 Howard Hughes's H-4 Hercules was the largest, heaviest and most expensive plane ever built. Yet aside from a one-mile test flight at 70ft (20m), the Spruce Goose - as it was nicknamed by critics - never flew.

What aircraft will replace the Hercules? ›

“As a result, new C-130J aircraft will be the only option that Defence will progress for government approval under Project Air 7404 Phase 1 in 2023.”

Is the RAF getting rid of the Hercules? ›

The Royal Air Force will retire the BAe146 as planned by 2022 and take the C130 Hercules out of service by 2023.

How much does it cost to see the Spruce Goose? ›

More tours

$27 to get in, plus $30 for a 15-minute, or $50 for a 45-minute, tour of the flight deck of the Spruce Goose.

Did Howard Hughes estate ever get settled? ›

By the time the Hughes inheritance was settled by a probate court jury in Texas in 1981, more than 600 people had made claims to the fortune, and 40 wills, all supposedly written by Mr. Hughes, had been produced and rejected. Mr. Hughes's money was divided among descendants on both his mother's and his father's side.

How much money did Howard Hughes inherit when his parents died? ›

Born in Houston, Texas, in 1905, Hughes inherited an estate of nearly a million dollars when his father died in 1923. Hughes' father also left him the business that had created this fortune, the Hughes Tool Company, which controlled the rights to a new oil drill technology that was in high demand.

How much does a seaplane pilot make? ›

The national average salary for a Seaplane Pilot is $71,116 per year in United States.

How many hours does a seaplane take? ›

It can normally be completed in 6-8 hours of training. It will also comply with the requirements for the Flight Review. There is no minimum number of hours required, or a formal FAA written exam.

How many miles can a seaplane fly? ›

With the available executive interior we can carry up to seven people in the ultimate in seaplane transportation. Capable of carrying nine passengers and bags over 300 miles or up to four passengers up to 1000 miles non-stop, the Caravan is the plane of choice for extended range seaplane flights.

Has the White Bird plane been found? ›

No conclusion was ever drawn, and the plane itself has never been found. Ric Gillespie, executive director of the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, hasn't given up the hunt since he first heard about the legend in 1980.

Has any of flight 19 ever been found? ›

A Martin PBM Mariner with 13 men aboard launched from Naval Air Station Banana River to search for the missing aircraft also never returned after suffering a probable in-flight fire. Despite one of the largest air and sea searches in history, no confirmed trace of the Avengers or the men aboard has ever been found.

What is the largest plane in the world? ›

Wreckage of huge aircraft at Ukraine's Gostomel Airport a testament to Kyiv's defence.

Can a Hercules land on an aircraft carrier? ›

From the accumulated test data, the Navy concluded that with the C-130 Hercules, it would be possible to lift 25,000 pounds of cargo 2,500 miles and land it on a carrier.

Does the military still use the C-130? ›

The C-130 operates throughout the U.S. Air Force, serving with Air Mobility Command, Air Force Special Operations Command, Air Combat Command, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Pacific Air Forces, Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve Command, fulfilling a wide range of operational missions in both peace and war ...

How many paratroopers can a Hercules carry? ›

As a troop carrier, the Hercules can carry 92 fully armed men, while for airborne operations 64 paratroops can be dispatched in two simultaneous "sticks" through the fuselage side doors. Alternatively, 40 paratroops can jump from the rear loading ramp. As an air ambulance the aircraft can accommodate 74 stretchers.

Did Hera drive Hercules mad? ›

But Hera kept up her dirty tricks. When her stepson was a young adult, she cast a kind of spell on him that drove him temporarily insane and caused him to murder his beloved wife and their two children.

What replaced the RAF Tornado? ›

Eurofighter Typhoon

How many times did the Spruce Goose fly? ›

Built for $23 million, the Spruce Goose flew only once. Howard Hughes took it out over the harbor in Long Beach, California, on Nov. 2, 1947. The plane flew 70 feet over the water for 26 seconds.

What kind of wood was the Spruce Goose made of? ›

I'll bet you didn't know that Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose, once the largest plane ever built, is not made of spruce at all. It's made of birch!

What plane is bigger than the Spruce Goose? ›

It's really big: The Stratolaunch aircraft is enormous, with a wingspan totaling 385 feet, longer than the wingspan of any other aircraft and greater than the length of an American football field. Its twin fuselages stretch 238 feet.

Who got Howard Hughes money when he died? ›

It was nine years later, on April 5th 1976, when Howard Hughes died, and no one could find a will. With his vast fortune up for grabs, a mysterious document surfaced, naming Dummar and the Mormon church as beneficiaries.

How much money did Terry Moore get from Howard Hughes? ›

In 1984, a woman named Terry Moore came forth alleging that she and Hughes were married on a yacht in international waters off the coast of Mexico in 1949, and they were never divorced. No proof of the marriage was produced, but the estate paid her $400,000.

Did Howard Hughes have an illegitimate child? ›

Hughes married his first wife, Ella Rice, in 1925 and divorced her in 1929. No children resulted from either marriage).

Did the Mormons get Howard Hughes money? ›

The document, which became known as the "Mormon Will", was ruled a forgery by a Nevada jury in June 1978. Dummar received no portion of Hughes' estate, but no criminal charges were filed against him or his wife.

Who was the first billionaire? ›

John D. Rockefeller became the world's first billionaire by measurable dollars. The Standard Oil Company founder became a billionaire in 1916 and was worth about 2% of the national economy. According to Forbes, the Rockefeller family's wealth stood at $8.4 billion as of 2020.

What would be Howard Hughes net worth in today's dollars? ›

Howard Hughes net worth as of November 18, 2022 is $3.41B.

Do you tip a seaplane pilot? ›

Don't tip the pilot. Its not a cab ride.

What is the highest paid pilot? ›

High Paying Pilot Jobs
  • Helicopter Pilot. Salary range: $51,500-$115,000 per year. ...
  • Private Pilot. Salary range: $51,000-$100,000 per year. ...
  • Corporate Pilot. Salary range: $55,000-$100,000 per year. ...
  • Chief Pilot. Salary range: $64,000-$100,000 per year. ...
  • Assistant Chief Pilot. ...
  • Air Charter Pilot. ...
  • Airline Pilot. ...
  • Commercial Pilot.

Do you need a pilot's license to fly a seaplane? ›

A pilot requires additional train- ing when transitioning to a seaplane. Ground and flight training must be received and logged, and a pilot must pass a class rating practical test prior to initial opera- tions as pilot in command.

What do you wear on a seaplane? ›

WHAT SHOULD I WEAR? Dress exactly as you would to be outside the day that you fly. The air is always a bit cooler up at flying altitude so if it's a warm day then it will be more comfortable up high. If you're flying on a cooler day then bring a jacket just in case.

How many seats does a seaplane have? ›

Seaplane: There can be a maximum of six people on board or a minimum of three. Each passenger has a window seat. Helicopter: There can be a maximum of three to four people on board and a minimum of two.

How much luggage can you take on a seaplane? ›

You can bring up to two (2) baggage items on the seaplane. Each item can be up to 30lbs. These items can include backpacks, purses, and duffel bags. Before boarding the seaplane you will be asked to place your items in containers that are then positioned in the cargo hold of the seaplane.

Can float planes land on any lake? ›

Both a floatplane and a seaplane can take off from, and land on, virtually any body of water (oceans, lakes, rivers, etc.) However, a floatplane does more than a seaplane.

Can you land a seaplane anywhere on the ocean? ›

Although seaplanes can land on private bodies of water, oceans, or even lakes and rivers, if the pilot does not have permission to land there, they cannot do so. Some bodies of water are open and others are closed, so pilots need to check ahead whether or not they can land where they want to.

What is the difference between a seaplane and a flying boat? ›

A flying boat is a type of fixed-winged seaplane with a hull, allowing it to land on water. It differs from a floatplane in that a flying boat's fuselage is purpose-designed for floatation and contains a hull, while floatplanes rely on fuselage-mounted floats for buoyancy.

What plane has not been found? ›

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Date8 March 2014; 8 years, 8 months ago
SummaryInconclusive, some debris found
SiteIndian Ocean, probably Southern
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How many planes have not been found? ›

Some 83 aircraft have been declared “missing” since 1948, according to data compiled by the Aviation Safety Network. The list includes planes capable of carrying more than 14 passengers and where no trace — bodies or debris — has ever been found.

Do any flying wings still exist? ›

Unfortunately, the short answer is “no.” The U.S. Air Force reports that all of the XB-35s and the YB-49s were scrapped by 1953; Northrop's beautiful flying wings today exist only in reports and photographs.

Did the pilot survive Flight 261? ›

Alaska Airlines Flight 261 was an Alaska Airlines flight of a McDonnell Douglas MD-83 plane that crashed into the Pacific Ocean on January 31, 2000, roughly 2.7 miles (4.3 km; 2.3 nmi) north of Anacapa Island, California, following a catastrophic loss of pitch control, killing all 88 on board: two pilots, three cabin ...

Was the lost Avenger found? ›

Avenger wreckage mistaken for Flight 19

In 1986 the wreckage of an Avenger was found off the Florida coast during the search for the wreckage of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Aviation archaeologist Jon Myhre raised this wreck from the ocean floor in 1990.

Were any bodies recovered from flight 592? ›

Crash debris haunted investigators for months as they recovered fragments of both plane and passengers from the “River of Grass.” To this day, no complete body of any of the passengers has ever been found.

How many Ukraine planes has Russia lost? ›

But not by much. Independent analysts have confirmed, through photo and video evidence, the destruction of 184 Russian aircraft. The Ukrainians have captured another 73 aircraft from the Russians for a total of 257 confirmed Russian losses.

What is the smallest plane? ›

The Starr Bumble Bee II

What's the fastest plane in the world? ›

The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird is the fastest jet aircraft in the world, reaching speeds of Mach 3.3--that's more than 3,500 kph (2,100 mph) and almost four times as fast as the average cruising speed of a commercial airliner.

How high can a c130j fly? ›

Ceiling26,000 feet (8,000 meters) with 44,500 pounds (20,227 kilograms) payload
Speed410 mph/356 ktas (Mach 0.58) at 22,000 feet (6,706 meters)
Maximum Allowable Payload44,000 pounds (19,958 kilograms)
Range at Maximum Normal Payload2,417 miles (2,100 nautical miles)
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What plane is bigger than the Hercules? ›

By most metrics, the Antonov An-225 is the biggest plane in the world. The Antonov Design Bureau in Ukrainian SSR built just one of these monster cargo aircraft.

How far can a Hercules fly? ›

The new Lockheed cargo plane had a range of 1,100 nmi (1,270 mi; 2,040 km) and it could operate from short and unprepared strips.

How far did the Hercules plane fly? ›

With a 3,000-mile range and cruise speed of 200 mph, the Hercules was designed to carry 400 troops or two Sherman tanks safely across the ocean. The sheer scale of the aircraft presented unique challenges that Hughes solved with innovative solutions.

Can a c5 carry a Chinook? ›

It was one of the world's largest military aircraft with a cargo compartment five times as large as that of the C-141—big enough to hold four Sheridan light tanks or a Chinook helicopter.

Can a C-130 carry an Abrams? ›

It can carry 2 Abrams tanks. Helicopters, Fighter Jets, even the fuselage of the C130 can fit inside. It can carry over 500 troops if web seats are used in the cargo, in addition to the 75 seats in the Troop Compartment.

Can C-130 fly upside down? ›

A transport aircraft such as the C-130 is usually not prepared to withstand the structural loads involved in an inverted flight maneuver.

What is the biggest US military plane? ›

The C-5M Super Galaxy is a strategic transport aircraft and is the largest aircraft in the Air Force inventory. Its primary mission is to transport cargo and personnel for the Department of Defense. The C-5M is a modernized version of the legacy C-5 designed and manufactured by Lockheed Martin.

Can an AC 130 be shot down? ›

Commonly known as the last AC-130 gunship shot down in combat, Spirit 03 is a story of heroes, harrowing combat and sacrifice. According to the Air Force Special Operations Command history office, the Iraqi army planned to invade Khafji, Saudi Arabia at the end of January, 1991, during Operation Desert Storm.

What is the heaviest thing to ever fly? ›

The great bustard is probably the heaviest living animal that can fly. The males normally weigh between 10 and 16 kilograms, but some can reach 21 kg. For comparison, the wandering albatross has a larger wingspan, but only the biggest reach even 16 kg.

Why is the AC-130 called the Angel of Death? ›

Named Azrael for the angel of death in Islam who severs the soul from the body, this aircraft figured prominently in the closing hours of Operation Desert Storm. On 26 February 1991, Coalition ground forces were driving the Iraqi Army out of Kuwait.

How long can a c130 fly without refueling? ›

The range of the C-130 is 2,360 miles, so it would have required at least 2 mid air refueling. If the C-130 they were flying in was not mid air refueling capable the plane would have taken a more zigzag route with several refueling stops and increasing the flight time to 20 hours or more.

How many planes were lost flying The Hump? ›

More than 1,300 pilots and crew members were lost and more than 500 transport planes crashed trying to make it. Flying the Hump contains more than 170 original color photographs depicting the lives of the pilots and their planes during this dangerous operation.

How many people can fit in a Hercules aircraft? ›

About the Aircraft

The C-130J Hercules can carry up to 128 passengers, or eight pallets of cargo. It can work alongside other airlifters, including the C-27J Spartan and C-17A Globemaster III.


1. The 6,000 Horsepower Plane that Nearly Killed Howard Hughes - The XF-11
(Flight Dojo)
2. Flight of the Spruce Goose
(The Wolfe Fam)
3. The Secret Behind The World's Fastest Aircraft | Power | Progress
(Progress - Technology History Documentaries)
4. Howard Hughes and the Spruce Goose ~ circa 1985
5. The Howard Hughes Archive
(Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum)
6. Detailed tour through the Spruce Goose! - the Hughes H-4 Hercules.
(Paul Stewart)
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