February 27, 2024
Howard Hughes was an American film director, business mogul, pilot and one of the most financially successful people of his time. He was born Howard Robard Hughes Jr. in Humble, Texas on September 24, 1905, to Howard R. Hughes Sr. and Allene Stone Gano. His father was a successful inventor. Howard developed an interest in technology and science as a child. He was one of the first radio amateurs to receive a license in Houston. He was the first Houston child to own a motorized bicycle. He started taking flight lessons at the age of 14.He attended Caltech and had a successful career as an engineer, filmmaker and pilot; He was also one of the richest men in the world.
Howard’s parents died before he was an adult and he inherited 75% of their estate.
Hughes dropped out of Wisconsin University in 1924 – and went on to become a qualified and accomplished pilot, film producer and director, business entrepreneur, philanthropist, and a multi-billionaire.
Howard attended Rice University in the 1920s but dropped out to pursue movie making.
Developing his interest in film and with a keen eye on a business opportunity, Hughes took over control of the RKO Studio.
In 1926 Howard Hughes began to use some of the money he inherited from his parents to finance films including Hell’s Angels, Scarface (1932), and the Outlaw (1941).
Costing him $24 million, Hughes became the first sole owner of a top Hollywood studio since the era of silent films.
Howard Hughes developed a reputation as a playboy in Hollywood and was known to date Ginger Rogers, Ava Gardner, and Katherine Hepburn.
Hughes set many records in aviation and was as competitive in the air as he was in business. He set many world air speed records.
In the early 1930s Howard Hughes passion for flying inspired him to found his own aircraft company so that he could design and build airplanes.
Together with his own designers and engineers, he built the ’Spruce Goose’, the ‘H-4 Hercules’ and the ’H-1 Racer’.
Howard took chances with his flying endeavors and tested aircraft and even set speed records in the 1930s.
Hughes was honored by Flying Magazine, ranked 25th in their list of  ‘Aviation Heroes’.
Howard Hughes circumnavigated the globe in 1938 with a four man crew, setting a new record with a time of 3 days, 19 hours, and 17 minutes. There was a ticker tape parade in NYC and celebrations around the U.S. for his accomplishment.
Howard Hughes’ father, Howard H. Hughes, was a wealthy businessman and inventor.
Howard Hughes was credited with developing the first retractable landing gear.
In 1909, Hughes Sr. patented the design of his ‘two cone roller blade’ which facilitated the extraction of petroleum from places previously too difficult to work.
Howard Hughes built a very large wooden sea plane which was nicknamed the Spruce Goose by the press. It was an H-4 Hercules that Hughes was contracted to build by the U.S. government. He later had to testify before Congress because of its expense. He flew it only once to prove it could fly.
Hughes’ uncle, Rupert, was also famous as a film director, screen writer and novelist.
The Spruce Goose is kept in the Evergreen Aviation Museum in Oregon today.
Following the sudden deaths of his parents, in 1922, Hughes set up a medical research laboratory – he was only 18.
In 1946 Howard Hughes was involved in a horrible plane crash. After the accident he became a recluse.
At 11 years old, Hughes built Houston’s first wireless radio transmitter.
In 1948 Howard Hughes became part of RKO Pictures but because of the plane crash he never even visited the studio.
At 12 years old, Hughes used spare parts from an old steam engine belonging to his father to motorize his bicycle.
Howard lived on the top floor of a hotel in Las Vegas in the 1960s but then moved abroad.
Hughes was a keen golfer in his twenties, with a handicap of 2-3. In Los Angeles – until his flying career stopped him, he would play golf every afternoon.
A supposed authorized biography about Howard Hughes was released in 1972 but the author Clifford Irving was found to be lying. He later served time for fraud.
Hughes had four crashes in airplanes. In 1946,the crash in an XF-11 almost killed him and he lived the remainder of his life suffering after-effects.
Howard Hughes died on April 5th, 1976 and an autopsy later concluded the cause of death to be kidney failure. He was severely malnourished. He was laid to rest at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston, Texas next to his mother and father.
In 1935, Hughes set a landplane airspeed record of 352 mph over a test course.
Howard Hughes net worth at the time of his death was $1.5 billion, which would be approximately $6.31 billion today.
Hughes bought huge swathes of land in Arizona and Nevada. He bought a famous hotel on the ‘Strip’ in Las Vegas called the ‘Desert Inn Hotel’.

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