“Children who are respected learn respect. Children who are cared for learn to care for those weaker than themselves. Children who are loved for what they are cannot learn intolerance. In an environment such as this, they will develop their own ideals, which can be nothing other than humane, since they grew out of the experience of love.” – Alice Miller
The Spruce Goose.The Hercules was a monumental undertaking. It is the largest aircraft ever built. It is over five stories tall with a wingspan longer than a football field. That’s more than a city block. On 2 November 1947, a series of taxi tests was begun with Hughes at the controls. His crew included Dave Grant as co-pilot, and a crew of two flight engineers, 16 mechanics and two other flight crew. In addition, the H-4 carried seven invited guests from the press corps plus an additional seven industry representatives, for a total of 32 on board.
After the first two uneventful taxi runs, four reporters left to file stories but the remaining press stayed for the final test run of the day. After picking up speed on the channel facing Cabrillo Beach near Long Beach, the Hercules lifted off, remaining airborne 70 feet (21 m) off the water at a speed of 135 mph (217 km/h or 117 knots) for around a mile (1.6 km). At this altitude, the aircraft was still experiencing ground effect.
Hughes had answered his critics and the hearings ended. The aircraft never flew again. It was carefully maintained in flying condition until Hughes’ death in 1976.