Bizarre giant: The Spruce Goose – More than 66 years after it first flew, Howard Hughes' gigantic, wooden H-4 Hercules -- nicknamed the Spruce Goose -- still has the widest wingspan of any airplane. It's housed at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, in McMinnville, Oregon.
Construction – At the time it was built, the H-4 was the world's largest airplane. It had to be moved in sections from its construction site on Los Angeles' west side, south to its Long Beach hangar.
Howard Hughes – Hughes, pictured here in the plane's pilot seat, flew the H-4 during its only flight. On November 2, 1947, off California's Long Beach harbor, the seaplane became airborne for about a mile and reached an altitude of about 70 feet. Saying it needed more development, Hughes stored it in a hangar and never let it fly again.
Was the Spruce Goose a failure? – Hughes -- an ambitious Texas-born businessman, engineer, film producer and pilot -- died in 1976 at age 70. Was the Spruce Goose a failure? Depends on whom you ask. Hughes proved it could fly, but it was never officially certified. Lawmakers hauled Hughes before a congressional committee to explain why he spent $22 million of taxpayer money on a plane that only flew once. Hughes pointed out that he had spent an additional $18 million of his own funds to develop the plane.
Troop mover – The Spruce Goose was designed to carry more than 700 troops across the ocean as a way to avoid threats from enemy submarines.
Wooden behemoth – The news media nicknamed the seaplane the Spruce Goose because it was made mostly of wood.
Big moves – In the early 1980s, the aircraft became a tourist attraction when it was moved from its hangar to a nearby dome structure next to the docked luxury ocean liner Queen Mary. In the 1990s the plane was acquired by the Evergreen museum for $500,000 and shipped up the West Coast to Oregon by barge.