Only One Like It In The World
The only flying replica of the Hughes H-1B racer, will be in the
air at this year's EAA AirVenture fly-in convention, July 29-August
4 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh (WI).
The original and only Hughes H-1B, which was designed, built and
flown by secretive millionaire Howard Hughes in the 1930s, is now
displayed at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington (DC).
Hughes considered the airplane one of his greatest achievements and
flew it to a closed-course record of 352 miles per hour in 1935 and
a then-transcontinental record speed of 332 mph in January 1937.
Although he never flew the airplane against after setting the
record, his design was widely utilized in many aircraft over the
The Wright Stuff
The Wright Hughes H-1B replica was built by Jim
Wright in Cottage Grove (OR) and made its first flight in July
2002. Wright also flew the replica to a world-record speed for the
airplane's class, reaching 304 mph at Reno( NV) last September, on
the 67th anniversary of Hughes' first record.
"The Hughes H-1 racer was a unique milestone in the first
century of flight, which is why the replica is such an outstanding
addition to this year's EAA AirVenture celebration," said EAA
President Tom Poberezny. "The rebirth of this design allows today's
aviation enthusiasts to enjoy the speed, power and even the mystery
surrounding Howard Hughes' first airplane, which was designed
specifically to set speed records."
Hey, It Was Howard Hughes.
What Else Would You Expect?
Wright and his team to devote approximately 35,000
hours to the Hughes H1-B project. As the group studied the original
racer in Washington and scoured the nation for clues to Hughes'
original concept and plans, they discovered Hughes had included
many design innovations that allowed the airplane to set world
speed records, yet operate from short dirt runways and carry a
range of nearly 4,000 miles.
The replica team also found the few surviving technicians and
builders who had assisted in the construction of the airplane and
had knowledge of the powerful Pratt & Whitney engine that
supplied up to 1,000 horsepower to the aircraft.
The H-1B racer was, incredibly, Hughes' first
aircraft design, a nearly unprecedented feat considering the era's
typical method of trial-and-error, followed by design refinements.
After Hughes' record transcontinental flight, it was said that he
never looked at, much less flew, the airplane again. The H-1B was
stored in the Hughes facility at Culver City (CA) until it was
donated to the Smithsonian Institution in 1975, shortly before
Despite gaining far less publicity than his later design, the
mammoth "Spruce Goose" flying boat, Hughes' H-1B racer actually had
a more profound impact on aviation history. Many of the innovations
used on the aircraft became part of such legendary World War II
airplanes as the Japanese "Zero," Grumman F6F "Hellcat" and the
Republic P-47 "Thunderbolt."