Author’s Note: This
is the oldest and, over the course of
years, the most visited story on this
website. The Spruce Goose was the
motivation for beginning All Aviation
FlightLine OnLine. At the time I wrote
this, the “Spruce Goose” was
sitting, seemingly forgotten, under a
temporary structure at the Evergreen
Aviation facility on Highway 26, across
the highway from the museum that was
completed in 2000 in which it now resides
as the centerpiece of the wonderful
Evergreen vintage aircraft collection. It
seemed to be begging to have its story
told and even more, the airplane seemed
to be asking for help. I could not
resist. I invite you to read about how it
got where it is today and to CLICK HERE for a look at its
new home, or as it was being prepared for
display within that new home several
years ago when I last visited the
airplane that wound up changing my life.
On further note, pardon our dust, this
website is receiving a long-overdue face
lift and some pages on it may not have
been completed yet.

click here for more Hughes Racer photos and informationThe Hughes Racer,
Hughes H-1 was the first aircraft
designed by this amazing man. In 2001,
Jim Wright and a group of builders
created a perfect full scale replica
which was so accurate, it was given the
serial number H-1 sn#2 by the FAA. Before
the airplane and Jim Wright were lost in
a tragic accident, we were able to spend
much time with the man and his airplane. Click Here or on the image
above for many more photos and details.

SPRUCE
GOOSE

When
America entered the second world war our
geographic isolation from the areas of
conflict gave us a distinct advantage
over our enemies. The technology of the
time simply made it too difficult for
those fighting against us to mount
serious action against our homeland. In
the end, this advantage left us the time
and manufacturing power to smother our
foes with an unending supply of the
materials necessary to wage war. But we
also had to overcome the vast distances,
we had to find ways to safely deliver
these materials, and men to use them, to
the areas of conflict around the world.
At the time, ships were the only way to
get the job done and the men doing it
were finding that it was very dangerous
work! Shipyards across America were at
full production but enemy submarines were
sinking the critical vessels nearly as
fast as they could be built. Something
had to be done.

The idea
for the HK-1flying boat came from Henry
Kaiser….Head of one of the largest
shipbuilding firms of the time, Kaiser
thought a ship that could fly over the
danger might be the answer. Howard Hughes
was known as an innovator in aircraft
construction and design. These two men,
both legends in their own time, would
launch the venture to build the huge
craft. (originally three were to be built
) The new plane’s official name bore the
initials of the principals in the project
HK-1….But to most of us it’s always
just been “Spruce Goose”.

The huge plane would be made
primarily of wood, saving materials
critical to the war effort. The
difficulties creating such a large
airframe made of wood were unknown at the
beginning of construction and would prove
to be many. The final product is a
tribute to the efforts of the team in
overcoming the problems they faced. A
structure made of lumber was created
that, even on close inspection, bears
little resemblance to any form of wood!
Hughes would prove to be a demanding
taskmaster during the period of
development and construction. His
attention to detail and insistence
everything on the new plane be nearly
perfect, was largely responsible for both
the beauty of the finished product and
it’s not being ready to fly until after
the war had ended.

The timing of completion and
final cost brought Hughes and the project
under the critical eye of the post-war
congress, one Senator grudgingly
referring to the plane as “The
flying lumberyard”. Howard Hughes
was called to Washington D.C. to defend
both the project and himself. During a
break in the hearings, he flew back to
California to conduct a test on the
“Goose”, it was during this
test the accidental flight took
place. This event, whether intended or
not, put a halt to critics of the project
and served as the finale for this
gigantic aircraft …… the project was
dead. Though his feathers had been
ruffled by the intense questioning he had
endured, the flight had vindicated Hughes
andthe project. The H-4, which
by now would be known forever as the
“Spruce Goose”, was put into
storage . It remained hidden from public
view, carefully preserved, until after
Howard Robard Hughes death in April of
1976.

With
the war ended, the need
for this type of craft
was gone….or was it? Modern cargo
transport planes bear
striking resemblance to
the old wood flying boat in
some important ways.
(squint your eyes just
right and the H-4, shown
in this picture, begins
to look like a C-5) With
the optional doors
installed, the large
opening front would have
allowed drive-on access
for large vehicles and
quick load and unload
times. The Spruce Goose
was intended to carry up
to 750 fully equipped
troops, or two Sherman
class tanks . Hughes and
his team had broken
ground in the development
of this plane, that they
did it in wood is even
more remarkable. Though
the project finished
behind schedule….they were
ahead of their time!

click image to view  picture of HK-1 under construction with doors installed!

continue:>>

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