Howard Hughes, a man who possessed versatile skills and interests: a man who was once considered to be one of the wealthiest men in the world was known as an American business man, investor, aviator, film maker and a philanthropist. Born in Texas on December 24, 1905, Howard showed great aptitude in engineering from an early age. At the age of 12, Hughes was identified as being the first boy in Houston Texas to have a “motorized” bicycle, which he had built himself from parts taken from his father’s steam engine.
Hughes moved to Los Angeles after his first marriage in the year 1925, where he hoped to make a name for himself making movies. His first two films, Everybody’s Acting (1927) and Two Arabian Knights (1928), were financial successes, the latter winning the first Academy Award for Best Director of a comedy picture. Hughes spent US$3.8 million to make the flying film Hell’s Angels (1930). He produced another hit, Scarface (1932), a production delayed by censors’ concern over its violence and gore.
Aviation and Airlines:
Hughes was a lifelong aircraft enthusiast and pilot. He is known to set many world records and commissioned the construction of custom aircraft to be built for himself while heading Hughes Aircraft at the airport in Glendale.
Near-fatal crash of the XF-11:
Hughes was involved in a near-fatal aircraft accident on July 7, 1946, while piloting the experimental U.S. Army Air Force reconnaissance aircraft, the XF-11, over Los Angeles. An oil leak caused one of the propellers to reverse pitch, causing the aircraft to descend sharply. He tried to save the craft by landing it at the Los Angeles Country Club golf course, but just seconds before he could reach his attempted destination, the XF-11 started to drop dramatically and crashed in the Beverly Hills neighborhood surrounding the country club.
At an early age of 30, Hughes started showing signs of mental illness. He is said to have suffered from acute OSD (oppressive compulsive disorder) and chronic pain. There was a time when Hughes told his aides that he wanted to screen some movies at a film studio near his home. Hughes stayed in the studio’s darkened screening room for more than four months, never leaving. He survived exclusively on chocolate bars, chicken, and milk, and relieved himself in the empty bottles and containers. Throughout this period, Hughes usually sat fixated in his chair, often naked, continuously watching movies, reel after reel, day after day.
Hughes died on April 5, 1976, on board an aircraft owned by Robert Graf and piloted by Jeff Abrams, en route from his penthouse at the Acapulco Fairmont Princess Hotel in Mexico to The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas.
He is said to be the most influential & iconic business and aviation figures of the 20th century.