Howard Hughes' giant Flying Boat - Popularly called the Spruce Goose
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Captain Michael King Smith Evergreen Aviation Educational Institute Howard Hughes' giant Flying Boat is now on display at the Evergreen Aviation Museum.

During world War 2, a consortium was formed by Howard Hughes and Henry Kaiser to create a giant, wooden, flying boat transport. The airplane was designated HK-1 for the Hughes-Kaiser consortium. After Henry Kaiser left the project the designation of the wooden aircraft was changed to H-4.  Later, a contest held among Hughes Aircraft employees produced the name Hercules.  Hughes did not like the name Hercules, nor did he appreciate the phrase Spruce Goose. He always referred to the airplane as the Flying Boat.

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

Most of the wood used in the construction of the Flying Boat was Birch. The nails used to hold its wooden components in place were removed once the glue set.

Considerable controversy surrounded its funding. The government funded the original project, which called for one prototype Flying Boat and the production of two additional aircraft.  The original government contract budgeted $18 million for three aircraft; however Hughes infused $7 million of his own capital into the project. Only one flying boat was completed. It was flown once in 1947, then it was returned to its hangar, where it remained for thirty-three years. It was carefully stored, maintained almost as an active aircraft until 1980. Each month its engines were run up. An extensive air conditioning system maintained a carefully controlled environment for the wooden behemoth.

First and only flight

The Flying Boat was removed from its hangar on October 29, 1980. For two days it floated in Los Angeles Harbor before it was lifted onto a temporary storage area on shore. On February 10, 1982 it was lifted from its storage location onto a barge. The next morning it was floated across the harbor to a giant geodesic dome to be displayed by the Wrather Corporation.

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

The hangar housing Howard Hughes' giant Flying Boat still stood in July 1980. The airplane had narrowly escaped being distributed to nine air museums when Wrather Corporation purchased it with the intent of creating a tourist attraction adjacent to the Queen Mary in Long Beach Harbor.

Flying Boat hangar The Hughes Flying Boat suffered damage when the original hangar flooded in September 1953. This larger hangar was constructed around the Flying Boat.

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

Flying Boat in its hangar Much of the hangar of the Hughes Flying Boat was removed by October 26, 1980 in preparation for floating the airplane out of the building. Wrather corporation had ordered that large plastic tarps be hung in front of the Flying Boat to obstruct the view of bay tour boats. Ducting can be seen for the air conditioning system that kept the environment of the Flying Boat within a narrow temperature range.

The tail of the Flying Boat sticks out of the back of the hangar The vertical stabilizer of the Hughes Flying Boat can be seen protruding from the partially disassembled hangar on the morning of October 29, 1980.

Flying Boat in its hangar Subsidence resulting from the extraction of petroleum from the area had lowered the hangar to the point that the floating of the Flying Boat had to be timed to coincide with low tide to allow the tail to clear the hangar roof.

Howard Hughes' Flying Boat emerges from its hangar October 29, 1980, the Hughes Flying Boat floats out of its hangar for the first time since 1947.

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

Photography Prints You can buy prints up to 11" by 16" or 5" x 7" greeting cards of this photograph.

Howard Hughes' Flying Boat floating in Los Angeles Harbor Since its only flight, the Hughes Flying Boat has had R-4360-TSB-3G engines of increased horespower installed, been painted white, and its registration has been changed from NX37602 to N37602.

Howard Hughes' Flying Boat floating in Los Angeles Harbor Howard Hughes' Flying Boat floating in Los Angeles Harbor.

Photography Prints You can buy prints up to 11" by 16" or 5" x 7" greeting cards of this photograph.

Howard Hughes' Flying Boat at Long Beach harbor on October 29, 1980The HK-1 Hercules waits while cranes are moved into place to pick up its cradle from the now flooded hangar.

Photography Prints You can buy prints up to 11" by 16" or 5" x 7" greeting cards of this photograph.

Howard Hughes' Flying Boat floating in Los Angeles Harbor The Flying Boat continues to wait as one of the cranes breaks through the hangar floor and sinks into the saturated ground underneath.

Howard Hughes' Flying Boat floats in Los Angeles Harbor at sunset This view of the Hughes Flying Boat shows how aerodynamically clean the design of its fuselage was.

Howard Hughes' Flying Boat floating in Los Angeles Harbor at sunset Herman the German, a four hundred ton 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 and set her onshore to be stored for the next year.

Howard Hughes' Flying Boat floats in Los Angeles Harbor at sunset A nervous group confers on the wing of the Hughes Flying Boat at sunset. The plan had not included leaving the wooden hull in the water overnight.

Howard Hughes' Flying Boat awaits lifting by Herman the German Sunlight glints from the wings of the Hughes Flying Boat on the morning of October 30, 1980. The flying boat's cradle has been recovered and is suspended from Herman the German.

Howard Hughes' Flying Boat awaits lifting by Herman the German The cradle of the Hughes Flying Boat has been set on the floor of the harbor. The Flying Boat has been floated into place.

Howard Hughes' Flying Boat awaits lifting by Herman the German Later in the afternoon, as scuba divers are attaching the cradle to the cables of the crane, a Lykes Lines cargo ship enters the harbor beyond the Hughes Flying Boat.

Photography Prints You can buy prints up to 11" by 16" or 5" x 7" greeting cards of this photograph.

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


Page 2, The Flying Boat gets a new home:

Hughes Flying Boat move to Pier J in February 1982 Go to Page 2 of Flying Boat pictures for the history of the Flying Boat from 1982 onward.


Martin JRM Mars

Giant Flying Boats

  First Flight Wing Span Length Wing Area Gross Weight Engines
Saunders Roe Princess

1952

219ft,06in

148ft,00in

5,250

330,000

10 x 3,500 hp Proteus
Hughes Flying Boat

1947

320ft,00in

218ft,06in

11,430

300,000

8 x 3,500hp R4360
Blohm und Voss BV-238

1945

197ft,05in

142ft,8in

3,930

176,400

6 x BMW 801
Martin JRM Mars

1942

200ft,00in

117ft,00in

3,683

144,000

4 x 2,000 hp R3350
Blohm und Voss BV-222

1940

150ft,11in

120ft

2,744

108,000

6 x 1,000 hp BMW-Bramo Fafnir 323R
Martin PBM Mariner

1939

118ft,00in

79ft,00in

1,408

41,000

2 x 1,700 hp R2800
Boeing 314

1938

152ft,00in

106ft,00in

2,607

82,000

4 x 1,200 hp R2600
Convair PB2Y Coronado

1937

115ft,00in

79ft,00in

1,780

63,000

4 x 1,000 hp R1830

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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.

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Book about Howard Hughes giant flying boat available from

Howard Hughes And His Flying Boat by Charles Barton


Links:

Find all about Howard Hughes giant flying boat Find all about the Howard Hughes giant flying boat at Wikiverse.org.

Link to a page describing the Evergreen Aviation Museum which is restoring the Hughes Flying Boat for display in McMinnville, Oregon.

Radio-controlled Spruce Goose Model, January 22, 2011 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.




Who do you think took these pictures?

I am engaged in an ongoing email exchange with an individual who is convinced that I did not take these pictures of the move of Howard Hughes giant flying boat.

Since you require folks to get permission to use your photographs, did you get permission to use someone elses pictures i.e. of the Spruce Goose move in Long Beach? Thanks

I do not need anyone's permission to use those pictures of the move of Howard Hughes' giant flying boat because I took every one of them myself.

Whenever I use a picture taken by another photographer, I get permission and give full credit to that photographer. I expect, but frequently do not receive, the same courtesy from others.

Thank you for responding. If you took each of these pictures yourself, you had to have permissioin from someone to be in the locations you were in to take them. Since I was in charge of the entire Move, and have all of the release signatures approving all photography within the controlled spaces of the move, I don't seem to have a document which identifies you. Could you please clarify.

I took those pictures, and I did not need your permission to take them.

Thank you for the clarification of your procedure regarding pictures you use that you do not take. Your previous e-mail states you took all of the pictures. In receipt of this last e-mail, I found difficulty understanding just exactly what you did, since I am looking at our negatives and original photos of some of your pictures which we took as a function of the move.

Are you implying that my pictures of the move of the flying boat were taken by another photographer? I have all of the original slides of those pictures. They will not be found among your negatives.

This becomes more curious as we discuss it. We shall see. My "negatives" are slides as well. That is how we had our negatives mounted.

There is nothing curious about it. You will not find a single match between your slides and my photos, much less find matches for all of my photos.

Your position is clear, not necessarily correct, but clear. We'll investigate further. There is obviously more to this than your willing, at this time, to admit. The exact same pictures, taken from the same exact location, at the exact same time, from our vessels with AUTHORIZED personnel only, has created this question.

Thank you for your responses.

My position is correct and clear. There is nothing for me to admit. I took those pictures of the move of the flying boat. I have the original slides. None of those pictures was taken from a vessel.

I challenge you to identify any photo of the move of the flying boat that is displayed on my web site that you believe I did not take. I will show you the original slide.

I am not lying about taking those pictures. I resent your baseless accusations and unsupportable threats. This email exchange is a waste of my time.

Who owns the negatives that you referred to? Are you employed by them? Who is your boss and what is his phone number?

Followed up with:

Here is a photograph of a page of my original slides, with annotation, of the move of the flying boat.

Original slides of Howard Hughes' Flying Boat You will not find any of these photos among your negatives.

Okay, there is my evidence. How about showing me some evidence to back up your accusation that I am a liar?

Just so you are not under any false illusions, I am the BOSS, President and Owner of the Company totally responsible for the Move you photographed.

Now we agree that I took the pictures of the Move that appear on my web site and I am not displaying any of your photos on my web site.

As the man says, we shall see.




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