The Spruce Goose Museum

I guess this is one of the items, on my husband's bucket list. We live in Northern California, and the Museum is in Oregon. So it is close. Just not NOW. I think I will surprise him, and purchase the tickets and give them to him for Christmas. We can go sometime in Jan.

For those who do not know what the "Spruce Goose" is:

Hughes H-4 Hercules - a prototype airlift flying boat, designed by (Howard) Hughes Aircraft Company and contracted by the military during WW2. The war ended before it was ever used.

In 1942, the U.S. War Department needed to transport war material and personnel to Britain. Allied shipping in the Atlantic Ocean was suffering heavy losses to German U-boats, so a requirement was issued for an aircraft that could cross the Atlantic with a large payload. Wartime priorities meant the aircraft could not be made of strategic materials (e.g., aluminum or steel)

The aircraft was the brainchild of Henry J. Kaiser, a leading Liberty ship builder. He teamed with aircraft designer Howard Hughes to create what would become the largest aircraft built at that time. It was designed to carry 150,000 pounds, 750 fully equipped troops or two 30-ton M4 Sherman tanks.The original designation "HK-1" reflected the Hughes and Kaiser collaboration.

It would be built mostly of wood to conserve metal (its elevators and rudder were fabric-covered and was nicknamed the "Spruce Goose" (a name Hughes hated) or the Flying Lumberyard.

Did she ever fly?  Well, yes, a very short flight.

On November 2, 1947, the taxi tests began with Hughes at the controls. His crew included Dave Grant as copilot, two flight engineers, Don Smith and Joe Petrali, 16 mechanics, and two other flight crew. The H-4 also carried seven invited guests from the press corps and an additional seven industry representatives. Thirty-six were on board.

Four reporters left to file stories after the first two taxi runs while the remaining press stayed for the final test run of the day. After picking up speed on the channel facing Cabrillo Beach the Hercules lifted off, remaining airborne 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). At this altitude the aircraft still experienced ground effect. The brief flight proved to detractors that Hughes' (now unneeded) masterpiece was flight-worthy—thus vindicating the use of government funds.

The Spruce Goose, however, never flew again. Its lifting capacity and ceiling were never tested. A full-time crew of 300 workers, all sworn to secrecy, maintained the aircraft in flying condition in a climate-controlled hangar. The company reduced the crew to 50 workers in 1962 and then disbanded it after Hughes' death in 1976.

My husband was born and raised in Long Beach, not far from where the Spruce Goose was docked in a climate controlled hangar, next to the Queen Mary. For whatever reasons,  He NEVER made it there to visit.

After years of trying to find a suitable place for it's retirement, it finally made its way on a barge to McMinnville, Oregon.

Now it is at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum.

No comments:

Post a Comment