Who piloted the Spruce Goose on its maiden flight on this day in 1947? – 2017

Who piloted the Spruce Goose on its maiden flight on this day in 1947?

Howard Hughes

Lastly, on November 2, 1947, Howard Hughes flew his Spruce Goose. This was the largest aircraft ever built, and it was more like a flying boat. However, Hughes proved his critics wrong as he flew the craft for one mile. This was the first and only flight of the Spruce Goose.

On November 2, 1947, Howard Hughes piloted his huge wooden airplane, the Spruce Goose, on its only flight, which lasted about a minute over Long Beach Harbor in California.


Rare footage from the archives that dates to November 2, 1947. Shot by amateur cameraman Leo Caloia, it shows the Hughes H-4 Hercules (also known as the “Spruce Goose”; registration NX37602) prototype heavy transport aircraft during taxi tests in Long Beach harbor. The aircraft, which was piloted by none other than Howard Hughes himself, may or may not have intentionally left the water.

Either way the Spruce Goose never flew again, and the Hercules never advanced beyond the single example produced. Built from wood because of wartime restrictions on the use of aluminum and concerns about weight, its critics nicknamed it the “Spruce Goose”, despite its being made almost entirely of birch rather than spruce.

The Hercules is the largest flying boat ever built and has the largest wingspan of any aircraft in history. It survives in good condition at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon, USA.

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