2 November 1947 The Spruce Goose aeroplane takes to the air for the first time
Howard Hughes’ $25,000,000 plywood flying boat took to the air and flew at 70 feet for a mile during its first taxi tests in Los Angeles-Long Beach Harbour.
Hughes was at the controls of the 400,000-pound plane when it took off midway in the third and final trial run before thousands of spectators who jammed the shore line.
Brought down on the choppy waters lightly, the plane was towed back to its moorings to wait for the gusty winds to abate.
“I think the airplane is going to be fairly successful,” Hughes commented. “When we got up to 95 m.p.h., I lowered the flaps to take-off position and it felt so good, I just took it off.”
Men aboard the flying boat said the hull skipped from wave to wave when the speed increased and that a violent motion shook the cockpit. An engineer stationed in the plane’s after section reported that the huge fuselage twisted with each wave.
An estimated 15,000 persons jammed beaches and piers along the course to watch the trials.
Hundreds of small boats ranging from fishing craft to row-boats swarmed waters adjacent to the taxiing lane. A Coast Guard cutter also stood by to warn spectators clear of the plane.
In addition to the multimillionaire plane maker, 30 engineers, technicians and observers were aboard the plywood aeroplane for its first movement under its own power.
Acting as co-pilot was Dave Grant, Hughes’ chief hydraulic engineer.
Hughes put more than $7,000,000 of his own money into the project.