A Brief History of Yellow Birch
It started with a flying boat. The Spruce Goose only flew once, and only for a mile. But it became the most famous airplane in aviation history, partly due to its sheer size—a wingspan as wide as a football field. Partly for its cost to build—$40 million. And partly because of its designer and pilot—the eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes. The U.S. government asked Hughes to build a “flying boat” to transport servicemen and supplies across the ocean during World War II. He chose to make it almost entirely of birch—strong, lightweight, and resistant to decay.
It was the press who coined the name “Spruce Goose,” a name Hughes hated, preferring the official Hughes H-4 Hercules.”