Howard Hughes began building the Spruce Goose or H4 Hercules as it was originally named in the early 1940’s. It was to be a large transport plane for the US military. Because of wartime restrictions on raw materials, Mr. Hughes was unable to use metals such as aluminum to construct the H4’s enormous structure. Instead he chose to build the giant plane out of wood.
Over budget and behind schedule many began to question if the giant plane would every fly. With its incredibly large fuselage and the fact that it was made of wood, the Hughes H4 Hercules resembled that of a boat and not a plane. Media and skeptics began calling the behemoth the Spruce Goose and the name stuck. Howard hated the name, and after being under such scrutiny he ordered the plane to be transported to a dry dock in the Long Beach Harbor.
The Spruce Goose was driven in sections and then would be reassembled once it reached Long Beach. Finally on November 2, 1947 in front of hundreds of onlookers and media, Howard Hughes unveiled his monster plane. It taxied for all to see in the waters of the harbor, but then with Mr. Hughes as the controls he surprised everyone as he pushed the plane up to 90 miles per hour, pulled up and set the giant into flight.
Howard Hughes, the Aviator, flew his beloved H4 Hercules 70 feet above the water for just over one mile and for approximately one minute.
Howard Hughes proved to all the skeptics that his plane could indeed fly. It was its maiden flight, yet it was also its only flight.