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HUGHES H-1 RACER

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AVIATOR HUGHES H1 RACER

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The H1 Racer was flown and filmed to simulate the World Speed Record attempt that Howard Hughes made in 1935 at Santa Ana, California.  The 1/2 scale replica would require the use of custom hydraulic retractable main landing gear and heavy use of composite technology would help the team build the plane quickly yet still provide a high degree of strength in the structure. 

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Photo courtesy of Miramax films

H1 RACER HISTORY

 

Howard Hughes built his H1 Racer specifically for speed.  His goal was to break the world speed record of 314 miles per hour.  On Friday, September 13, 1935 Hughes got his chance to do just that.  He took off from Santa Ana Airport in Orange County California and then attempted multiple passes with the crew clocking his speed from the ground below.  He flew for an hour and fifteen minutes until he finally ran the H1 out of fuel.  With the landing gear up Howard Hughes landed the racer in a nearby beet field. Both he and the H1 only  sustained minor damage.

 

Although he ran out of fuel, Howard Hughes acheived his goal and broke the world speed record by being clocked at 352 miles per hour.

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H1 RACER DESIGN & BUILD

Joe Bok and his engineering design team at Aero Telemetry optimized the aerodynamic profile of the wing, engine thrust-line, CG location, main airfoil angle of attack, incidence angles (between wing and horizontal stabilizer), and vertical stabilizer offset angles of their airplane to allow it to fly safely and realistically for The Aviator's film cameras. These issues were just a few of the critical design criteria addressed and implemented correctly. All these specific details contributed directly to the success and margin of safety exemplified in all the flights of the Aero Telemetry H1 Racer.

In addition to a sophisticated hydraulic actuated retractable landing gear system the H1 Racer used a 360cc, two-stroke, two-cylinder, 30hp engine.  John Keefe and Roger Thornton, the Aero Telemetry Shop Leads, also designed a special exhaust system and modified the carburetor to squeeze more power from it.

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H1 RACER LANDING GEAR

 

Custom hydraulic retractable landing gear were designed and fabricated for the Hughes 1/2 scale flyable model. Due to the compressed schedule, the gear had to designed, tested, and installed in less than 3 weeks.

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H1 RACER ENGINE TESTING

 

Aero Telemetry used a 360cc 30 hp, twin cylinder, air-cooled two-stroke engine to power the H1 Racer replica.  John and Roger also fabricated a special exhaust system and modified the carburetor to squeeze more power from it. Due to the weight of the plane, the first engine chosen for the model was entirely too small and had to removed and replaced over the weekend before the airplanes first flight. For the first flight the propeller was a 3-blade, fixed pitch, 48 inch  "Ivo-Prop" Propeller that had to be cut down slightly due to ground clearance issues. It over-ran on the engine during the first flight at El Mirage and although it successfully flew the Hughes H1 Racer it was replaced after the flight with an in-flight adjustable, variable pitch propeller of 48 inches in diameter. This proved to be the perfect fit and the Aero Telemetry H1 Racer really flew like the real one. Fast, loud, big, and beautiful...that was the H1 Racer flown for filming the aerial sequences for the movie The Aviator on November 17th, 2003 by the Aero Telemetry Team.

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