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The Hughes HK-1 Hercules Flying Boat was built to fly troops and supplies over enemy submarines ravaging shipping lanes during WWII. Industrialist Henry Kaiser conceived the idea and joined forces with Howard Hughes who eventually took over the project. To conserve metal for the war effort, the HK-1 was built of laminated birch. Over-budget and behind schedule, detractors called it the “Spruce Goose” and said it would never fly.
Completed after the war ended, it had a wingspan of 320 feet and would have carried 700 troops. With Hughes at the controls, the Flying Boat flew only once, on November 2, 1947, defying its critics in an event now regarded as a great moment in aviation history.
The “Spruce Goose” is a true American icon and is on exhibit at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.More Aviation Facts