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// H O W A R D H U G H E S //
H O W A R D H U G H E S:
A V I A T I O N H I G H L I G H T S
- 1920: At age fourteen, takes his first flight in a Curtiss flying boat.
- OCTOBER 1927: Begins filming World War I flying epic, Hell's
Angels; spends $500,000 for more than forty vintage fighter and scouting aircraft, world's largest
private air force.
- JANUARY 7, 1928: Receives pilots license.
- JANUARY 30, 1930: Hell's Angels premieres in Hollywood; aviation
sequences remain unequaled.
- SPRING 1932: Founds Hughes Aircraft Company in Glendale,
- SEPTEMBER 1932: Under the pseudonym "Charles Howard" gets a
job as a baggage handler for American Airlines;
advances to co-pilot within weeks.
- JANUARY 14, 1934: Wins first-place air trophy in Miami in a modified
- 1934: Develops and tests the first retractable landing gear
and flushed rivets to streamline airplane designs of
SEPTEMBER 13, 1935: Sets new land speed record of 352.46 m.p.h. at
Santa Ana, California, in the Silver Bullet, the
worlds fastest plane, built by Hughes Aircraft.
(Made a forced landing in a beet field, during final
run, at 100 m.p.h.)
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1935: Proves, in a series of death-defying flights over the
Sierra Nevadas, that high-altitude flying greatly
increases air speed, opening a new frontier for
- JANUARY 14, 1936: Sets new transcontinental speed record from Los
Angeles to Newark of nine hours, twenty-seven
minutes. "All I did was sit there. The engine did
the work," he explains.
- 1936: Designs and perfects an oxygen feeder system that
enhances pilot safety during high-altitude flights.
- JANUARY 19,1937: Makes the world's greatest long-distance speed
flight, setting a new transcontinental record from
Los Angeles to Newark, New Jersey, of seven
hours, twenty-eight minutes.
- MARCH 3,1937: Receives the prestigious Harmon International
rophy—as world's outstanding aviator for 1936—
in ceremony at the White House. President
Franklin D. Roosevelt presents the trophy, given by
the Ligue Internationale des Aviateurs. Hughes
the third American to receive the honour, following
Charles Lindbergh and Wiley Post.
- JULY 10-14, 1938: Flies around the world in three days, nineteen
hours, and seventeen minutes. With his four crewmen, in a Lockheed Model 14 twin-engine
transport, Hughes establishes a new record and
returns home a ticker-tape hero.
- 1939: Perfects power-booster radio receivers and transmitters in contemporary aircraft.
- 1941—1943: Designs revolutionary ammunition feed chutes for
fifty-caliber machine guns, doubling the rate of fire.
- JULY 7, 1946: Survives fiery near-fatal Beverly Hills crash of the
XF-11, which is designed for photo reconnaissance. He later redesigns propeller configuration
for next prototype.
- 1946-1949: As principal shareholder of TWA he designs
first cost-effective routes to Europe and the South
- APRIL 5, 1947: Climbs back into the XF-11 for a successful test flight.
- NOVEMBER 2, 1947: Proves his critics wrong with surprise test flight of
the Hercules, aka the HK-1, popularly known as
the Spruce Goose. The Long Beach, California,
flight lasts less than sixty seconds, but it reinvents
Hughes as an aviation hero and remains one of the
most famous flights ever.
- 1940s: Builds Hughes Electronics into the single largest
supplier of weapons systems to the United States
Air Force and Navy.
- 1941-1956: Builds Hughes Aircraft from a four-man operation
into an eighty-thousand-employee powerhouse that
includes Hughes Electronics and Hughes Helicopter.
(Company develops thirty-three hundred Ph.D.s.)
- 1949: Develops the "all-weather Interceptor," an electronic weapons control system with a combined
radar set and computer, capable of finding and
destroying enemy planes day and night and in any
sort of weather.
- 1950-1956: Conceives and manufactures the "air-to-air missile,"
which seeks out its target and then locks in through
a fail-proof system of radio impulses. Deadly and
quick this guided missile was considered to be the
most important contribution to the defense of
North America since radar.
- 1950-1956: Invents, then mass produces, the navigational control system for the F-102 interceptor—the
backbone of American Air Defense Strategy in the
fifties and sixties.
- 1959-1964: Revolutionizes the nations wartime helicopter
capability through $440 million in government
contracts. Builds the TH55A helicopter—the forerunner of maneuverable choppers
for battle conditions.
- 1960s: Pioneers and produces the unmanned satellite prototypes, virtually clearing the way for the onset of
todays satellite era.
- DECEMBER 14, 1973: Inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame in
Dayton, Ohio. Officials there hoped that the elusive Hughes would show up to accept the honor,
but he instead sent Ed Lund, the only other surviving member of the 1938 around-the-world
- Source: the best book on Hughes, Howard Hughes - The Untold Story (The life that inspired Martin Scorsese's The Aviator)
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