Classic Hughes Aircraft Flying Again

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Aero Telemetry, a small company in southern California, is finishing up a model of Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose flying boat with a 20-foot wingspan, which it calls "the world's largest flyable, most historically accurate and detailed scale model" of the iconic aircraft. The airplane is one of three Hughes aircraft that the company is building to create a traveling exhibit. Joe Bok, the company CEO and an aerospace engineer, designed the models used in The Aviator film, released in 2004. Bok, however, felt that the models used in the movie, created under intense deadline pressure, "left much to be desired," company spokesman Rob Hartz told AVweb. So on his own, Bok is creating meticulous new versions based on extensive research.

So far the company has created a 1/2 scale Hughes H1 Racer, which flew last year, and this year, the company flew "the world's largest flyable museum-scale replica" of the twin-engine twin-tail Hughes XF-11, with a 30-foot wingspan. According to the company website, Bok and his team were given access to rare photographs and original Hughes Aircraft blueprints of the XF-11, detailing the intricacies of the complex design. The flying Spruce Goose replica will debut at the Academy of Model Aeronautics Expo in Ontario, Calif., in January. According to Hartz, "Joe considers these airplanes to be his best effort at creatively combining design, engineering, technology and art as a functional form." No plans are in the works to sell copies of the models, Hartz said, but he didn't rule out the possibility.