Friday, November 2, 2012

65 Years Ago Today

Howard Hughes flew The Spruce Goose, as my Bing homepage reminds me.

And then paid to keep it flight ready for the 30 years, even though it never again left the hanger. The longest trip it ever took was when it was moved to Oregon when Disney bought its hanger and sent the non-profit that owns it an eviction notice.

And yet, it is probably one of the most famous planes from the post war period. People who couldn't name another aircraft since the Wright Brothers know of the Spruce Goose. Well, that's to be expected; there is a lot of plane to capture the imagination.

When the average plane held 2 dozen the Goose was designed to haul 750. It was designed to capture the imagination; and it did. It still holds records for tallest, longest wingspan and only misses being longest by a few feet.

That's probably why it still draws attention, even in the age planes that size being common the Goose is one of the largest planes in the world. And it is built out of plywood.

Plywood was an unusual material for an aircraft even at the time. But the government wanted to save the aluminum for fighters and bombers; so plywood was used.

There has been argument since the beginning about the viability of the design, a design Hughes backed fully. Which is why it had to make that one flight; just to prove Hughes right.

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