At 319 feet 11 inches, the Spruce Goose, or more correctly the H-4 Hercules, boasts the largest wingspan of any aircraft ever built. It made its maiden and only ever flight this day in 1947, piloted by Howard Hughes Jr.
One of the world's wealthiest men, Hughes was a Hollywood filmmaker and business mogul who owned a chunk of Las Vegas and controlled the TWA airline. He was also passionate about flying and aircraft in general, and was a record-setting aviator in his own right.
In 1942, during World War II when German submarines were sinking hundreds of Allied ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the U.S. government contracted Hughes to design and build an aircraft capable of transporting 700 troops or a one ton load across the Atlantic. Six times larger than any aircraft of its time, it was a monumental project and the war ended before the plane was completed.
Hughes was accused of misappropriation of millions of dollars of government funding for the project, leading to his testifying before a U.S. Senate committee in 1947. The inconsequential hearings made Hughes determined to prove his colossal aircraft could fly and on 2nd November 1947 he piloted its first and only flight, flying just over one mile at an altitude of 70 feet for one minute above the water at Long Beach, California before landing safely. At the cost of millions, Hughes retained a full crew and maintained the plane in a climate-controlled hangar in Long Beach where it remained until his death in 1976.
The plane was eventually disassembled and transported by barge to Portland, Oregon and then by truck to McMinnville, Oregon where it was re-assembled and restoration completed in 2001. It remains on display at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum. We are drinking to this colossal flying boat and the equally impressive ambitions of the incredible man that built it with a Paper Plane, a drink of more humble proportions but impressive nonetheless.
Blackadder, Dad's Army, Doctor Who, Fawlty Towers, The Good Life, The Office, Top Gear, Eastenders, The Great British Bake Off, and even Strictly all originated on BBC Television, a broadcasting service that started this day in 1936.
John Logie Baird made the first experimental television broadcast for the BBC from its studio in Long Acre in the Covent Garden, London on 30th September 1929. The simultaneous transmission of sound and pictures was achieved on 30th March the following year and by late 1930 Baird s broadcasts for the BBC lasted 30 minutes eight times a week. The BBC began its own programming from the basement of London's Broadcasting House on 22 August 1932 with a regular broadcast service commencing 2nd November 1936.
The world's first regular "high-definition" (then defined as at least 200 lines) service, The BBC Television Service was renamed BBC1 in 1964 and proudly continues to broadcast advertisement free daily television to this day. We Brits are very proud of the Beeb and are drinking a creamy BBC with fond memories of BBC programs of yester year and soggy bottoms on The Great British Bake Off.