Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link World History Group RSS feed World History Group Subscriptions Historynet Home page

Letter From Aviation History - May 2010

Originally published on Published Online: March 16, 2010 
Print Friendly
0 comments FONT +  FONT -

 The Aviator

You've gotta respect a guy who nearly kills himself in airplanes—twice—and still climbs back into the cockpit. But then, Howard Hughes was not your average aviator.

Much has been written about the famous reclusive multimillionaire, including in these pages. In his article about the Lockheed Constellation in our July 2009 issue, Stephan Wilkinson allowed that the image of Hughes as a "whack-job, a crazy man, a weirdo" is an exaggeration, and that his "true goofiness began with his addiction to painkillers as the result of the dreadful injuries he suffered while crash-landing the prototype Hughes XF-11 twin-engine reconnaissance plane in July 1946." In the May 2010 issue, E.R. Johnson charts Hughes' twin-boom airplane development efforts, which ultimately led to that crash (see "Extremes"), and C.V. Glines reveals the sorry circumstances surrounding the aviator's earlier crash during the filming of Hell's Angels (see "A Showman Takes the Lead").

That classic 1930 movie earned the no. 4 spot in last issue's top-10 list of the best aviation movies ever made. Judging by the letters we've received, there are quite a few passionate aviation film fans out there. One movie that didn't get a lot of votes—OK, none—was Martin Scorsese's The Aviator, despite winning five Academy Awards. But as reader Mike Heaney points out (see "Mailbag"), that 2004 film does feature one of the best airplane crash sequences ever committed to celluloid (or whatever the digital equivalent is)—the aforementioned XF-11 crash-"landing." You can view it, as well as genuine newsreel footage of the crash aftermath, on YouTube. The newsreel footage ends with the line "America's aviation trailblazers willingly pay the price in man's conquest of the air." Hughes might have disagreed as he convalesced in a hospital with multiple broken bones and third-degree burns.

If you have $118,000 or so to spare and want to own a genuine piece of Hughes history, you might consider purchasing the 1939 Douglas B-23 Dragon recently advertised on Hughes bought it in 1945, converting it to a business plane. Although it needs some work, it looks to be in remarkably good shape. Considering the prices that historic airplanes are commanding these days (see "Briefing"), $118 grand is bargain basement for a plane with this provenance. Think of it as an investment in aviation history.

Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Related Articles

History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet? is brought to you by World History Group, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
World History Group

World History Group Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer!
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2015 World History Group. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy