The Hughes H-4 Hercules is a heavy transport, flying boat aircraft designed and built by the Hughes Aircraft company, making its first and only flight.
On November 2, 1947, Hughes obliged, taking the H-4 prototype out into Long Beach Harbor, CA for an unannounced flight test. Thousands of onlookers had come to watch the aircraft taxi on the water and were surprised when Hughes lifted his wooden behemoth 70 feet above the water and flew for a mile before landing.
Despite its successful maiden flight, the Spruce Goose never went into production, primarily because critics alleged that its wooden framework was insufficient to support its weight during long flights. Built from wood due to wartime raw material restrictions to the use of aluminum, it was nicknamed the “Spruce Goose” by its critics, some of whom accused Howard Hughes of misusing government funding to build the aircraft. The Hercules is the largest flying boat ever built, and has the largest wingspan and height of any aircraft in history. Made only for a prototype, the H-4 Hercules was stored until April 5, 1976.
Today, the Spruce Goose survives in good condition at the Evergreen Aviation Museum.