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What's a Spruce Goose?

Updated on November 8, 2015

The Spruce Goose might have only been made out of wood, but it's the largest flying boat ever built in this world that we live in. The H-4 Hercules was nick named the Spruce Goose as well as The Flying Lumberyard by it's skeptics and critics. Due to the wartime effort to conserve metal, the plane was made almost entirely out of birch wood, rather than spruce. This behemoth aircraft was designed and built by billionaire Howard Hughes at his aircraft company.

This behemoth plane is over five stories tall at a height of over 79 feet. It's wingspan is longer than both a city block or a football field at over 320 feet. The Spruce Goose is over 218 feet long, and it's powered by eight 4,000 horse power, four bladed engines, with propeller diameters of 17 feet 2 inches.

This massive aircraft is capable of carrying 750 troops at a range of 3,000 miles with a cruising speed of 250 miles per hour.

On November 2nd 1947 the Spruce Goose flew just off of the coast of Long Beach, California for over one mile at an altitude of 70 feet above the water for one minute. The Spruce Goose got up to a speed of 135 miles per hour, and this was the only time this great aircraft ever flew, but that apparently was just enough for it to hold the classification as the largest flying boat.

After it's one and only flight the Spruce Goose was maintained in perfect flying condition by a full time crew of workers in a special climate controlled hangar, until after Howard Hughes death in 1976. Today that same massive hangar is being used as a movie sound stage, where scenes from movies such as "The Titanic" have been filmed.

After Howard Hughes death the Spruce Goose went on display in a large dome by the Queen Mary Exhibit in Long Beach, California. Today after a complicated 1,055 mile journey, you'll find the Spruce Goose located at the Evergreen Aviation museum in McMinnville, Oregon.

There was only one of the H-4 Hercules planes ever produced, and the Spruce Goose is definitely a one of a kind airplane. I find this entire story to be totally fascinating, however I'm sure if it wasn't for Howard Hughes and all of his money, that the Spruce Goose wouldn't still be around today, or be any more famous than an everyday ordinary paper airplane.

World record setting paper airplane

A paper airplane flew across an entire warehouse, and set the world record for longest flight with a distance of 226 feet, 10 inches.
A paper airplane flew across an entire warehouse, and set the world record for longest flight with a distance of 226 feet, 10 inches.

**********Straight out of public domain - the H-4 Hercules**********

"The Spruce Goose"
"The Spruce Goose" | Source


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    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 3 years ago

      As I understand it the Spruce Goose fiasco contributed to Howard Hughes becoming a recluse. The 40s was a time of great aviation development but also a time of great aviation flops.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      One of a kind hub for a one of a kind airplane. What a novel topic. Something everyone's heard of but few of us really know anything about. So many things brought to us courtesy of Howard Huges! Voted this up and interesting.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 5 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      The 'Goose' should be kept even if only to demonstrate to us HOW NOT TO build a plane. It's right, if it wasn't for Howard Hughes there wouldn't be one, but he was barking up the wrong tree, surely? Aside from that at the end he was just plain barking (two stops short of Upminster on the District Line) mad. He stayed on Park Lane back in the 70's whilst he was 'on his way out'.

      Like the paper ones, though!

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 5 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      I don't live far from the Evergreen Aviation Museum which lies in the heart of Oregon's wonderful wine country. I finally went to the museum to see this huge attraction and it is really interesting. I was even more interested in the old planes from World War II on display at the musueum, a great collection of historical aircraft. Interesting Hub! Up!

    • TheHoleStory profile image

      TheHoleStory 5 years ago from Parsons, West Virginia

      Courtesy of phoenix2327, I've now added a historical photo of the Spruce Goose, which will finally complete this hub. There were only 5 available, none of which measure up to the standards of the good old paper airplane.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      Very intersting hub. Love the last photo, as it reminds me of childhood days long since lost. Well done. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      If you nip over to you should be able to find some photos of the old girl that are public domain. You can use these photos without worrying about copyright restrictions. If you wish to attribute them you can but it's not necessary.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Years ago, we saw the spruce goose on display at the museum. It was really big and very impressive. Thanks for sharing the history and interesting facts on this plane. Your inclusion of the paper planes are a good add to the hub. Enjoyed the read.

    • DFiduccia profile image

      DFiduccia 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      This was interesting to me and voted up for the following reasons:

      1. I remember those years way back when. I played a New Year’s Eve gig on the Queen Mary. I also had the opportunity to visit the Spruce Goose.

      2. Somewhere between 1957 and 1960, while stationed at Las Alamito, CA Naval Air Station, we had an international model airplane meet at the base. The competition for the microfilm indoor models moved to the Tustin Blimp Base Hangars, where I served as a timer. These giant blimp hangars are the largest free span wooden structures in the world. They have a length of 1000 feet and a width of 300 feet. The competition that day was impressive and memorable.

    • TheHoleStory profile image

      TheHoleStory 5 years ago from Parsons, West Virginia

      Thank you everyone for all of the super fast comments. And aviannovice I felt it was best to just stick with photos of paper airplanes because I didn't want to get into trouble with copyright restrictions with photographs of the real Spruce Goose. Maybe someday if I'm ever fortunate enough to visit the real Spruce Goose in person then I can show a photograph which I took.

    • profile image

      stessily 5 years ago

      TheHoleStory, I've never forgotten being told in childhood about the Spruce Goose. I just loved the name and was glad that it was included in the recent movie "The Aviator" with Leonardo Di Caprio as Howard Hughes.

      Paper airplanes have enchanted me since childhood as well. I love that last photo with the world's record for paper airplane flight.

      Kind regards, Stessily

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      I've heard the term 'Spruce Goose' before but never knew what it was. Thanks adding this little nugget of knowledge to my collection.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Voted awesome and up, but why no photo of this fabulous airship?