The Hughes H-1 is a racing aircraft built by Hughes Aircraft in 1935. It set a world airspeed record and a transcontinental speed record across the United States. The H-1 Racer was the last aircraft built by a private individual to set the world speed record; most aircraft to hold the record since have been military designs.nt
During his work on his movie Hell’s Angels, Howard Hughes employed Glenn Odekirk to maintain the fleet of over 100 aircraft used in the production. The two men shared a common interest in aviation and hatched a plan to build a record-beating aircraft. The aircraft was given many names, but is commonly known as the H-1. It was the first aircraft model produced by the Hughes Aircraft company.
Design studies began in 1934 with an exacting scale model (over two feet in length) that was tested in the California Institute of Technology wind tunnel, revealing a speed potential of 365 miles per hour (587 km/h)
Streamlining was a paramount design criterion resulting in “one of the cleanest and most elegant aircraft designs ever built. Many groundbreaking technologies were developed during the construction process, including individually machined flush rivets that left the aluminium skin of the aircraft completely smooth. The H-1 also had retractable landing gear to further increase the speed of the aircraft, including a fully retractable hydraulically actuated tail skid. It was fitted with a Pratt & Whitney R-1535 twin-row 14-cylinder radial engine of 1,535 cubic inches (25.15 l), which although originally rated at 700 horsepower (522 kW), was tuned to put out over 1,000 horsepower (750 kW).
Due to two different roles being envisioned for the racing aircraft, a set of short-span wings for air racing and speed records and a set of “long” wings for cross-country racing were prepared.
Jim Wright of Cottage Grove, Oregon built a full-scale replica of the H-1 that he first flew in 2002. His replica was so close to the original that the FAA granted it serial number 2 of the model. His achievement in recreating the aircraft was heralded in many aviation magazines.
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Hughes piloted the first flight on 13 September 1935 at Martin Field near Santa Ana, California, and promptly broke the world landplane speed record clocking 352.39 mph (567.12 km/h) averaged over four timed passes. The ship was loaded with a minimal amount of fuel to keep the weight down, and Hughes was not supposed to make the 3rd and 4th passes, exhausting the fuel supply. Hughes managed to crash-land in a beet field south of Santa Ana, California without serious damage to either himself or the H-1.When his compatriots arrived at the crash site Hughes said “We can fix her; she’ll go faster.” At the time, the world seaplane speed record was 440.7 mph (709.2 km/h), set by a Macchi M.C.72 in October 1934
The Hughes H-1 is a racing aircraft built by Hughes Aircraft in 1935. It set a world airspeed record and a transcontinental speed record across the United States. The H-1 Racer was the last aircraft built by a private individual to set the world speed record; most aircraft to hold the record since have been military designs.