Howard Hughes’s monstrous HK-1 Hercules got me interested in aviation at a very early age. Something about it, the size obviously, but also the time and the person behind it made it so special. When I was very young my parents surprised me and took me to go see in down in Long Beach. At the time (mid-1980’s) I believe the Disney Corporation “owned” it, and boy did they know how to display it. Properly displaying a relic of any type, but especially a one of a kind giant machine like the Hercules, adds tremendously to the drama and mystique of the subject. Later on I documented it’s voyage to McMinnville, Oregon where it lives today. My parents even taking me to see it arrive at the Evergreen headquarters in pieces while I was sick with chickenpox! Anyways, I have a very special place in my heart for this wooden giant and in many ways I owe my love affair with aviation to it. Above is a shot of me in front of the Hercules in Long Beach, taken a long time ago, and if you can tell by the outfit, in a galaxy far far away!
So many questions remain about the Hercules: How fragile was it? Could it really have flown? What did the use of laminated wood do to the performance of the aircraft? Was Howard ever serious about attempting to fly her again, and if so why didn’t he? The list goes on and on. I came across this TV show from the late 1970’s, hosted by none other than the famous Tom Snyder, that goes deeper into the capabilities and history of the “Spruce Goose” than I have ever seen before. Mr. Snyder is no dummy when it comes to interviews, and in this case he went right to the source, the men who designed, built, and even flew in the mighty HK-1.