Aviation Beginnings ; in his own words
Hughes: My only comment here is Howard Hughes came in contact with speed
at an early age and then if you could strike out 'that
even today he drives a Chevrolet substantially faster than the law of
common sense would call advisable'...
...Good grades at Fessenden and was an outstanding student at Thatcher but
I was not goaded by my father and this had nothing to do with my learning
to fly. The first opportunity I had to come in contact with the operation
of an aircraft was at New London, Connecticut. We were at that time
staying at the Griswold Hotel on the Thames River and we attended the
Yale-Harvard boat races. My father had been on one of the crews at
Harvard. I doubt that it was the Varsity Crew but he had some interest in
rowing at Harvard and he was ardently anxious that Harvard win the race
and promised me anything I wanted if Harvard should win. This was back in
the old days when Harvard used the short stroke and Yale the long stroke.
I remember that very well. We sat in the train and watched the race. My
father thought I was going to ask for a canoe with a sail on it which I
had been badgering him all summer to buy for me, but instead when Harvard
won and he was ready to pay off his obligation to me I asked to be
permitted to fly with a pilot who had an old broken down seaplane anchored
in the river in front of the hotel and my father begrudgingly consented.
He didn't like he looks of the contraption, corroded wires and so forth
and so on but he finally gave in and this was the very first contact I had
with flying...The age is correct -- 14.
White: Had your father done any flying?
Hughes: No. None at all. He was an ardent automobile driver but to my
knowledge had never been up in an airplane.
I remember the airplane very well. It was a Curtis Flying Boat - not a
land plane on pontoons. It was a single hull flying boat and the engine
was overhead. It was a Biplane, and I'm quite sure it was a pusher. I
think the engine was ahead of the propeller. If I remember right it was an
Father, high living and extravagant...anything but
an efficient manager.
Hughes: The men in Houston worship him - why not say "his father, though a
brilliant inventor, was prone to be extravagant." I wouldn't like anything
about his management.
(1) He owns a factory that pours money into his
pocket. . . .
(2) He hasn't seen the factory for 15 years and
(3) he runs it by telephone...
Hughes: (1) That isn't true - it makes some money but that goes into the
Aircraft, etc. It doesn't pour into my pocket (2) This isn't true
either - it hasn't been 15 years
White: Well, how long has it been?
Hughes: I don't know exactly - but more like 18 months. And on (3) that
would be very much resented by the people down there.
White: OK I'll fix it.