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Howard Hughes and the Spruce Goose (Hardback)

The Story of the H-K1 Hercules

Aviation

By Graham Simons
Imprint: Pen & Sword Aviation
Pages: 256
ISBN: 9781783831555
Published: 27th August 2014

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Howard Hughes' life ambition was to make a significant contribution to the field of aviation development. But the monumental folly of his endeavours on the H-KI Hercules meant that he came to be known and remembered to a great extent for all the wrong reasons. The 'Spruce Goose' (a name Hughes detested) became a product of his wild fixation on perfection and scale. Once completed, it was the largest flying machine ever built. Its wingspan of 320 feet remains the largest in history. Yet it only completed one flight; flying for a mile on its maiden voyage above Long Beach Harbour, before being consigned to the history books as a failure.

Experienced author Graham M. Simons turns his attention to the production process that saw this colossus take shape. In words and images, all aspects of this process are illustrated. We have shots taken during the initial design period, images of the craft under construction, and photographs taken at the test flights. In addition, Simons has been gifted access to the highly prized and rarely seen aircraft manual produced for the aircraft, content from which has been extracted and used to supplement the narrative.

The book goes on to explore the political issues that sprung up as a result of Hughes' endeavours, looking into the Senate War Investigations Committee's findings which explored the extent to which government funds had been utilised in the development and construction of the airship, adding a whole new layer of controversy to the proceedings.

This masterly and compact study is the most balanced and authoritative contextual re-visitation of the whole intriguing Hughes Hercules saga to date.

Aerospace - January 2016 - Dr Norman Barfield

Graham M. Simons' latest book provides all the information you will ever need to know about Howard Hughes' famous project. From a brief history of the early years of its creator and his family, through to the nitty-gritty of the designing and building process, and the infamous Government hearings into the way in which funding was used. It is accompanied by a series of fascinating images documenting every facet of the aircraft's construction.
Whether you take the view of the project being a misunderstood work of genius or a white elephant, it is hard not to come away from this account without an appreciation for the work that went into the 'Spruce Goose's' construction.
A terrific insight into the creation of a titan.

Pilot Magazine

Excellent. A completely new view of Hughes, the Goose and the Hearings.

David Lee, former Deputy Director and Curator of Aircraft at the Imperial War Museum
 Graham Simons

About Graham Simons

English professional aviation writer, publisher and historian Graham M Simons is one of the founders of the world famous aviation museum at Duxford near Cambridge where his interest was piqued watching the making of the ‘Battle of Britain’ film there in the late 1960’s and from the days when you could go ‘aircraft spotting’ at London Heathrow and other airports.

From this, and with an engineering background, he progressed to membership of a number of aviation societies, including sitting on the British Aviation Preservation Council, eventually taking the position of Engineering Director with one group. Here he was responsible for overseeing the restoration of a De Havilland DH89 Dragon Rapide airliner to flying condition and placing this aircraft - with official approval — in the colours and markings of the first aircraft of what was then the Kings Flight. It was during this period that he was contacted by Ian Allen Ltd to write the first ever history of this classic De Havilland type.

Other titles rapidly followed and with a growing number of contacts in both the military and airliners, Graham turned professional in 1987, combining his love of writing with his skills in production to create and publish aviation histories focussed on a variety of subjects.

He is the author of Howard Hughes and the Spruce Goose, Comet! The World’s First Jet Airliner, The Airbus A380: A History, and De Havilland Enterprises: A History, amongst many others published by Pen and Sword Books.

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