Howard Hughes had some success in Hollywood. He also discovered the stunning beauty, Jean Harlow. However, the actress suffered from kidney failure and died at the age of 26. After his first Academy Award-winning movie, his next productions were all flops. He then turned his future toward flying, and he established Hughes Aircraft Company. He wanted to build the fastest plane on earth. In 1935 he did just that when he flew the H1 at a world speed record of 352 miles per hour. Next, he wanted to achieve the fastest flight around the world. In 1938 he took to the skies with a modified Lockheed 14 from New York. The crew landed in Paris, then onto Moscow and Siberia. Three days, nineteen hours, and fourteen minutes later, they landed once again in New York. Hughes became a true hero of aviation.
Howard Hughes Buys Shares Of Trans World Airlines
In 1940 Hughes grabbed the controlling share of Trans World Airlines (TWA) as he entered commercial aviation. More money was created for the wealthy aviator, as the government wanted Hughes to build various needs for the war effort in Europe. Two years later, he was asked to construct a flying boat. This was to overcome the German U-boat, which was causing issues for the US transport vessels. During testing, Howard Hughes was involved in his fourth plane crash while acting as the pilot of the Sikorsky S-43. The amphibian aircraft crashed on Lake Mead, Nevada. Two members aboard the plane were killed while Hughes walked away with a large gash on top of his head.
Howard Hughes New Personality
Perhaps the gash on top of his head caused more severe problems, because, soon after, Hughes started to exhibit patterns of behavior that appeared odd to onlookers. It began with compulsive hand washing (and there was not any COVID-19 pandemic present). He would constantly check and re-check his work. He was always monitoring the symmetry and continually trying to make things perfect. These are all classic signs of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). They were also seen as signs of a deteriorating mind. However, Howard Hughes faced demands from his rapidly expanding empire and his military contracts requiring more and more obligations and responsibilities. Due to all of the pressure, this was not a good time for the whispers of insanity.
Howard Hughes Incessant Tinkering
Two major contracts, one for the XF11 Reconnaissance Plane, another for the HK-1 Spruce Goose, were over budget and late. This was due to the delays caused by Hughes’ constant tinkering and his insistence on being the test pilot for both planes. This insistence brought him his closest call to date. In July 1946, Hughes took the first flight test of the Spruce Goose. After 45 minutes of flying perfectly, a propeller suddenly malfunctioned. Howard Hughes hoped to land on the Los Angeles country club; instead, he struck the roof of a nearby house as the plane crashed to the ground. The plane burst into fire. After Howard Hughes was extracted, he was rushed to the hospital. He suffered significant head trauma, burns, and fractures. These injuries would cause him to experience pain for the remainder of his life.
Pain, More Pain, More Pills For Howard Hughes
The crash of Spruce Goose resulted in pain and injuries that affected his behavior. Howard Hughes OCD spun out of control. To keep the pain at a level he could tolerate, he started taking drugs. It became known as his three-part cocktail. It consisted of codeine, valium, and empirit. He took these drugs daily for the following 30 years.
Part 3 – Friday, the conclusion of the Howard Hughes story.