Thursday, February 20, 2020

When Howard Hughes Ruled the Roost...

Howard Hughes. (Image source:
Which was a long, long time ago, indeedy!

Authors Note
Like I've said here many, many times, life has a way of getting in the way upon thoust Isle 'O Nofendersville and hence, this story's been marooned high 'N dry upon thou scattered Driftwood, having listened to the book that sparked my current fascination with the man and one of his machines now nearly a year ago...

Otay, so it's also a long, long time ago now when I actually went 'N saw that wonderful movie The Aviator, starring Leonardo DiCaprio Wayback in 2004 when I could still actually "See" some of the movie screen, albeit I was Blind even then; But I Digress...

As I still recall how DiCaprio made me feel like I was actually watching Messer Hughes right Thar upon thou Big Screen, and still fondly remember that bathroom scene, when a Germa-phobic Hughes deliberates over how he'll manage to extricate himself from said Water Closet without having to touch the door with his profusely scrubbed clean Hands!

And then when I began digging into information upon Howard's life and his Flying machines, I was surprised to learn after the fact upon now residing in Oregon, that the replica Hughes H1 Aeroplane that was slated to be used during filming for The Aviator movie came from Cottage Grove, OR which is just under a two hours hop, skip 'N throw Southeast via Ye Highway 126 from Thee Utter' Florence.

Yet sadly Jim Wright, the builder of this exquisite replica perished upon his return flight home from the 2003 Osh Kosh Air Show, due to mechanical maladies...

As it was just by pure Happenstance last Spring - with Florencian F1 Spotter Jeannie's assistance that I selected a most enjoyable CD Audiobook from our local library on Messer Hughes, titled Howard Hughes, The Untold Story, by Patrick Harry Brown & Pat H. Broeske. (1996)

As it was a very interesting book, although a little too Heavy upon Howard's Sexual Conquests, but shed light upon his Flying, Political maneuverings including an interesting twist upon Watergate  and 'Ol "Tricky Dick's" brother owing Hughes money, among other subjects.

Howard Robard Hughes, Jr. was born on December 24th, 1905 in Humble, Texas. And apparently showed great mechanical apptitude, having created the first Wireless transmitter in Houston at Age 11, and began conversing with Ships via Morse Code. At Age 12, he built himself a motorized "Scooter," nee Motorbike.

When "sonny," aka Howard Hughes, Jr. was 14, he visited the local Stutz Car  Dealership one day and after studying a Stutz Bearcat on display, which went for $7,000, a hefty price for 1919. He told the Startled Salesman "I'll Take It!

The Salesman called "big Howard," as Senior was known in Houston, who asked what did "sonny" say he wanted to do with it? He wants' to take it apart and rebuild it. Ok, then Send It Out replied the elder Hughes. As "Junior" Dismantled the Bearcat and rebuilt it completely in less than a month!

It appears that Sonny' first made his mark in Aviation circles with thou completion of the Hughes H-1 racer Aeroplane built by Hughes Aircraft in 1935, for which Howard immediately set the new world speed record of 352.39mph, after four passes.

Although he made a total of seven passes that day before crash landing in a nearby Beat field upon running out of fuel! As he'd had once such luminary Aviatrix named Amelia Earhart Unhand that Day, who trailed him into the Skies...

Next, Howard set the record for Trans Continental flight in his very same H1 Racer in 1937 in a time of just under 7hrs 30mins.

On July 10, 1938, aboard his custom Lockeed Load Star Aeroplane, with a crew of four, Howard began his record setting round the world global flight, which he'd complete in just 3-days, 19hrs and 17mins - at a distance of nearly 15,000 miles!

Including flying thru restricted German Airspace in order to save time flying to Russia. With the BBC reporting he'd thumbed his nose at Hitler, after the Load Star had been shadowed by German War planes Shouting Verboten, Verboten! Laced with expletives the entire time over German Airspace.

Upon landing, the following day Hughes and his Crew were given a Hero's Welcome in New York City where One Million people turned out for the ticker-tape parade, with another 750,000 surrounding City Hall to hear the Celebratory Speeches.

No Fenders Scribe Tomaso posing with Spruce Goose Tail in background. (The Tomaso Collection)
Towards the end of World War II, the Government cancelled both of Hughes lucrative War contracts for his XF-11 Spy-plane, and the HK1 Hercules, subsequently renamed H4 Hercules and better known as the "Spruce Goose." Or less flattering, "The Flying Lumberyard," due to it's being constructed primarily out of wood, albeit Birch, and not Spruce. With the Government noting there was no longer any need for the world's largest troop carrier.

For five special days in June 1946, the massive Spruce Goose's Fuselage and two Wings were transported 26 miles from Hughes Aircraft's Culver City facility to Long Beach Terminal Island.

Moving the 164,000lbs load at a cost of $60,000 to Hughes, required over 2,000 people from 23 differing organizations. Over 3,000 trees were trimmed and over 2,300 utility wires were temporarily disconnected, while traffic was re-routed. And School Children were excused from school on the condition they'd watch the lumbering Hercules Flying Boat pass thru the streets.

But first Howard would have to survive his Death Defying Crash of his revolutionary XF-11 Photo Recognizance aircraft, for which he should have Died! Surviving a fiery crash with multiple broken bones, including all 12 ribs, a collapsed lung and multiple skin grafts for his burned body!

As the crash occurred upon the plane's maiden flight, July 7, 1946 - when Howard once again deviated from flying protocol by staying Airborne longer then planned.

As I believe that his good friend Carey Grant was one of the few people allowed to visit Howard in Hospital, as the Matinee Idol Grant was one of Hughes Best Friends. Possibly in some small part since they were of like size? As reputedly Hughes enjoyed borrowing Grant's clothes when they went off on adventures together...

As Carey was instrumental in introducing Katherine Hepburn to Howard, as the couple would ultimately have a somewhat rocky four-years relationship during the latter 1930's before moving on to court others permanently.

Some of Hughes women included Ellen Rice, arranged marriage. Billy Dove, Ava Garner, Lana Turner, Katherine Hepburn, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Gloria Vanderbilt, Yvovonne DeCarlo and Jean Peters, to name just a few.

Although perhaps I place too much stock upon it? Nonetheless, I find it a Wee bitamyte' Karmic that I've learned about Scotty Bauers when working upon this story.

Since Bowers  claims to have played Matchmaker to The Stars 'O Hollywood, apparently including the likes of Carey Grant, Kathryn Hepburn and scores of others. Hmm? Who knows, perhaps Messer Hughes as well too, Eh?

Hughes Aircraft was the U.S. Military's largest supplier during the 1950's leading the  way in Electronics. As Hughes Company pioneered the Air-to-Air Falcon missile, amongst other accomplishments.

While I was previously unawares that Howard had taken controlling interest in Trans World Airways (TWA) in 1939 before subsequently running it into Financial Ruins due to his Mismanagement, forced to sell his Shares in the Airline and be removed from its Board of Directors.

Also didn't know about his accumulation of Los Vegas properties upon the Strip or his vast land holdings in Nevada, where he "Holed Up" during his final decade of life, albeit constantly on the move to ensure his reclusity.

And I'm slightly Cornfuzed' over the mis-leading assertions of Hughes involvement in the Takeover; Err Acquisition of another Airline in the late 1960's, what ultimately became known as Hughes Airwest during the 1970's.

Since when this acquisition occurred in 1968, Howard was already being mollified by what became known as the "Mormon Mafia," his inner circle of Handlers. Which appears to have swindled Hughes out of several Millions of "Greenbacks," or more likely Hundred Millions 'O Dollars,  ultimately run by Frank William Gay and the Suma Corporation - before Howard Died at age 70 on April 5, 1976.

To continue reading, see; AVIATION: Long Awaited Trek to the Spruce Goose

(Spruce Goose Photo c/o J & J Images)