Trader Jakes – Issue 770 January 26, 2018
Page 12 “Thank You For Reading Trader Jakes”
HOWARD HUGHES...MILLIONAIRE AT 18
The 1901 discovery of oil at Spindletop, near Beaumont, Texas,
marked the birth of the modern petroleum industry, and drew
Hughes' father, Howard Sr., a Harvard dropout, to East Texas to try
his luck as a wildcatter.After becoming frustrated by the difficulty of
drilling into hard-rock formations with the fishtail drill bit that was
standard at the time, he devised a superior two-cone bit, which
made drilling easier and revolutionized the oil industry. Hughes
patented the technology in 1909 and, with partner Walter Sharp,
formed the Houston-based Sharp-Hughes Tool Company to manu-
facture the bit. After Sharp died in 1912, Hughes bought his interest
in the company. When he in turn passed away in 1924, Howard Jr.,
an only child whose mother had died two years earlier, inherited the
thriving company and became a millionaire. The 18-year-old
Hughes dropped out of Rice University, let others manage the oil-
tool business and set out for Hollywood in 1925.
Hughes set an around-the-world flight record.
During the 1930s, Hughes began to seriously pursue his passion for
flying, establishing Hughes Aircraft Company in 1932 (it eventually
became a major aerospace and defense contractor) and setting a
series of aviation records. In 1935, he broke the record for flying a
plane over land, traveling 352 miles per hour near Santa Ana,
California. Two years later, he set a record for transcontinental U.S.
speed, journeying from Burbank, California, to Newark, New Jersey,
in 7 hours, 28 minutes and 25 seconds. On July 10, 1938, Hughes
and a four-man crew took off from Brooklynís Floyd Bennett Field
on an around-the-world flight. After dipping his Lockheed Super
Electraís wings over the Old Saybrook, Connecticut, home of his girl-
friend Katharine Hepburn, Hughes made refueling stops in Paris,
Moscow, Omsk and Yakutsk (both in Siberia), Fairbanks and
Minneapolis before landing back in Brooklyn. There, thousands of
spectators greeted Hughes, who had set a new record for circum-
navigating the globe, with a time of three days, 19 hours and 17
minutes. He was hailed as a hero and honored with a ticker-tape
parade in New York City and celebrations around the country.
Famous Spruce Goose aircraft was flown once.
In 1942, during World War II, Hughes contracted with the U.S. gov-
ernment to design and build an aircraft capable of transporting 700
troops or a load of 60 tons across the Atlantic. Known by various
names, including the H-4 Hercules, the Flying Boat and most com-
monly, the Spruce Goose (a moniker Hughes detested), it had a
wingspan of 320 feet and was the largest aircraft ever constructed.
However, the war ended before the plane was completed, and in
1947 Hughes was called to testify before a U.S. Senate committee
investigating whether he'd misused millions of dollars in govern-
ment funds on the project. At the hearings, Hughes said of the
Spruce Goose: I put the sweat of my life into this thing. I have my
reputation rolled up in it and I have stated several times that if it's
a failure I'll probably leave this country and never come back. And I
After testifying in Washington, Hughes was determined to show his
massive aircraft could fly, and on November 2, 1947, he piloted its
first and only flight.The Spruce Goose (the nickname came from the
fact it was constructed of wood due to wartime restrictions on steel
and aluminum; however, birch, not spruce, was the primary build-
ing material) traveled for a mile about 70 feet above the water at
Long Beach, California, before landing. Members of the Senate
committee later issued a report criticizing Hughes' handling of the
Spruce Goose project but the document proved inconsequential.
After the aircraft's lone flight, Hughes shelled out millions to keep it
in a climate-controlled Long Beach hangar until his 1976 death. It's
now housed at an aviation museum in Oregon.
Always something of a loner, Hughes went into complete seclusion
in 1950. However, in 1953 he established the Howard Hughes
Medical Institute, using profits from the Hughes Aircraft Company.
According to Hughes, the centre was established to explore the gen-
esis of lifeitself.It
became a leading biological and medical research
institute and was one of the worldís largest and most powerful char-
ities. The following decade he refused to appear in court to answer
antitrust charges concerning TWA and thus lost control of the busi-
ness by default. In 1966 he sold his shares for more than $500 mil-