Howard Hughes Crashes
July 7, 1946 - It was on this day that millionaire Howard Hughes took one of the fastest planes ever built on a maiden flight that almost killed him.
The XF-11 was a prototype Hughes had originally created for the Army. It had two 28-cylinder engines and a wingspan of over 100 feet. It cost about 8 million dollars to build, but following World War II most of the interest in the plane had evaporated, and Hughes was stuck with a very expensive prototype.
For the first flight, Hughes decided to fly the plane over Los Angeles knowing it would generate some publicity. Unfortunately, he got more attention that he ever imagined. One of the props malfunctioned and the plane began to swerve out of control. Hughes knew he had to land so he aimed for the golf course of the Los Angeles Country Club. Suddenly the plane pitched forward and the millionaire sliced through 3 homes in Beverly Hills. One of the houses burst into flames as the plane crash landed in between Linden and Whittier Drives.
Amazingly nobody was killed, but Hughes was pretty banged up. His hands were badly burned and his lungs were crushed. He also broke his collarbone and some ribs.
While recuperating, the ever-inventive Hughes came up with modifications to his bed that are now common features in modern hospitals. On the negative side, it was heavy doses of morphine that he received after that crash that probably contributed to his addiction to painkillers.
The crash was faithfully recreated in Martin Scorsese's 2004 film, The Aviator: