Long Beach Pier, California

In 1941 the US government commissioned the Hughes Aircraft Company to build an aircraft capable of carrying 700 men over long distances and be able to land on water.  Wartime restrictions on resources meant that steel was in short supply, so the aircraft was built of laminated wood, covered in plastic and canvas.  It was propelled by eight large engines.  The cost was astonishingly high and the project was not completed until 1946, a year after the war had ended.

Many in Congress were furious about the cost and time it had taken in building an aircraft that did not fulfil the job specified.  They demanded that Howard Hughes demonstrate the aircraft flying.

So, on 2nd November 1947, Howard Hughes obliged, taking the H-4 prototype out into Long Beach Harbour for a flight test.  Thousands of onlookers had come to watch Hughes piloting the aircraft, nicknamed the Spruce Goose.

The flight lasted less than a minute and reached a height of only seventy feet, it was evidently a bumpy ride.  The aircraft never flew again, but Howard Hughes was so proud of the aircraft that he kept it in a climate-controlled hanger, always ready to fly again.  After his death in 1976 it was transferred to the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon, where it is to this day.  An extraordinary piece of aviation history, although ultimately a failure.

Long Beach Pier