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What Is The Spruce Goose?

The Spruce Goose (real name, "Hercules") was the largest plane in the world in the early 1940's, built by a plane that was built by renowned aviation expert Howard Hughes. It was designed, during World War II with the purpose of being able to carry 750 troops.

Hercules, designed to land and take off from the water, was built of wood, since other valuable resources (like steel) were being consumed for the war effort. Building the plane of wood led to many functionality problems. The project took years to complete, the war had ended, and government funding for the project had dried up. Hughes spent $7 million of his own money to complete the plane even though critics said it would never make it into the air.

Criticism by the media over the costly Hercules venture led to them nicknaming it the "Spruce Goose." The name, unfortunately for Hughes, stuck. The Spruce Goose was 218 feet long and 79 feet high. It's wingspan was an amazing 319 feet.

Hughes was a visionary who saw media criticism as a challenge. Even though the plane (and future ones like it) was no longer needed (since the war was over), Hughes found it to be a personal challenge to complete the project...

He did.

On November 2, 1947, Hughes personally piloted the Spruce Goose to show the world it could, indeed, fly. Media, critics, and an interested public gathered at Long Beach, California for the event. For one minute, the plane lifted up off of the water and flew 70 feet into the air at a distance of one mile. It was the first and last flight the plane would ever take.

The Spruce Goose, prominently featured in the movie "The Aviator," now resides at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon. Guests paying $11 can see the plane up close and even go inside of it.


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