Howard Hughes at the controls of The Spruce Goose. Had no intention of flying it, but Hughes was a man of many surprises.

The Spruce Goose – 26 Seconds Over Long Beach – November 2, 1947

Howard Hughes at the controls of The Spruce Goose. Had no intention of flying it, but Hughes was a man of many surprises.

Spruce Goose flight – Mutual report – November 2, 1947 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

The Spruce Goose, legendary transport plane designed and built, at first by Henry Kaiser and Howard Hughes, but eventually the sole responsibility of Hughes. Ordered by the War Department in 1942 and finally ready for its test run well after the war in 1947.

Intended only to be a test of its taxiing ability, Hughes at the controls, decided a quick acceleration to see if it would fly was accomplished, much to the amazement of the press in the plane and the observers on the ground. It climbed to a height of 70 feet before Hughes settled the plane back down on the water, never to fly again.

The Spruce Goose was made of wood because of the wartime restriction on the use of aluminum as well as some concerns about weight. It was designed to carry 150,000 pounds (68,000 kg), two 30-ton M4 Sherman tanks, or 750 fully equipped troops.

The whole aircraft was made from birch (out of strong plywood) and the only pieces of the plan that are not made of wood are the engines, electronics, screws, and braces used in the Restoration process.

Since the plane never went through the battery of other tests in order to see if it could do all Hughes claimed it could do, it became one of the great mysteries in the legacy of Howard Hughes, since Hughes never released any information as to its whereabouts, its fate and its full abilities kept secret from the public. It wasn’t until after Hughes’ death in 1976 that the world finally learned more about The Spruce Goose, became aware of its existence after that November 1947 test. It would eventually become a museum piece and, after spending time in Long Beach it was transferred to an Aviation museum in Oregon where it lives today.

But for a reminder that the Spruce Goose did indeed fly once, here is that broadcast, live from the plane itself on November 2, 1947.


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