On This Day…

Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose

November 2, 1947

The billionaire Howard Hughes flies his 200-ton wooden aircraft for its first and only flight, flying for 26 seconds at 70 ft (21 m) off the water at a speed of 135 miles per hour (217 km/h) for about one mile (1.6 km). It was contracted in 1942 for the war effort, but wasn’t completed until 1947, well after the war had ended. It cost $23 million (equivalent to $211 million in 2019 dollars) to build. It was the world’s largest plane at the time and was built from wood due to WWII restrictions on the use of aluminum and other war materials. Although called the Spruce Goose, it was made almost entirely of birch.