Interview by Jason Baker at Sea Plane Forum with Rob Hartz of Aero Telemetry discussing their work on the Hughes Flying Boat for the Academy Award winning film, The Aviator.
I recently got to speak with Rob Hartz who is the Marketing Administrator at Aero Telemetry, the company which built all of the aircraft seen in the movie. Aero Telemetry is involved in a large number of projects that include UAV Technology. One of their most closely followed projects is a new, larger, more scale H-4 Hercules.
Everyone with a passion and interest for waterborne aviation has heard about Howard Hughes biggest and most ambitious project, namely the H-4 Hercules.
The Hughes H-4 Hercules (also known as the "Spruce Goose"; registration NX37602) is a prototype heavy transport aircraft designed and built by the Hughes Aircraft Company. The aircraft made its first and only flight on November 2, 1947, and the project never advanced beyond the single example produced. Built from wood because of wartime restrictions on the use of aluminum and concerns about weight, its critics nicknamed it the "Spruce Goose," despite it being made almost entirely of birch rather than spruce. The Hercules is the largest flying boat ever built and has the largest wingspan of any aircraft in history.
For those of you who have seen the movie "Aviator", you might have come to appreciate the aircraft used in the movie, which helped to propel the movie into quite a few peoples all time favorites and made the movie just so much better...
The Passion In Building Large Scale Aircraft
Here's what Rob sent me: Our reason for rebuilding the Spruce Goose is a complicated but interesting story. Joe Bok, an Aerospace Engineer and the CEO of Aero Telemetry, made a decision some time ago to redesign, fly, and display all the models he and his team built for the Academy Award winning film, The Aviator. During that project, we had been given only 3-months to complete (as in build from scratch and fly!) the 11 airplanes we provided for the movie. Although the airplanes were very impressive and successful; the compressed time schedule, negligent suppliers, and oppressive film deadlines left much to be desired, as far as Joe, as an engineer and pilot was concerned.
The initial plan was to organize a traveling exhibit and showcase several of the amazing airplanes he built for the movie including the world's largest Spruce Goose, Hughes XF-11, Hughes H-1 Racer, and several other relevant and unique airplane models from the movie. To that end, we have completed 2 of the main airplanes and consider the Spruce Goose as the 3rd in the "Hughes Aircraft Trilogy" that we are currently working on.
At the AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics ) Expo in January 2011 we introduced our 1st airplane; the incredible 1/2 scale Hughes H1 Racer which was later flown at the Academy of Model Aeronautics 75th Anniversary Event in Muncie, Indiana.
Details and photos of the H-1 Racer project here » Later that year, Joe completed the world's largest flyable museum scale replica of the Hughes XF-11 and showcased that at the AMA 2012 Expo; details and photos here, and this year at AMA Expo 2013 we will be bringing the world's largest flyable and most historically accurate version of the Hughes Flying Boat or Spruce Goose.
In addition to the exhibit and our Hughes Aircraft Trilogy project, there are currently two Hollywood film projects in the works that may require the use of the large-scale models of the Hughes airplanes. Although the Hollywood projects are always interesting, we intend to continue with our original plan of exhibiting and flying the airplanes at various events around the world.
Joe considers these airplanes to be his best effort at creatively combining design, engineering, technology and art as a functional form. Although, we hadn't actually thought about selling copies of the airplanes, we will look into the matter. They are definitely one of a kind and would provide an equally impressive display.
After years of collecting detailed design information from museums, conducting several interviews with actual Hughes Aircraft personnel, and long hours studying original blueprints and never before seen photographs of the subject matter, Joe and his team are now able to bring to life some of the most amazing flyable model airplanes ever built...again. For more details and pictures, videos, etc please see our website at aerotelemetry.com at the website you will find several links to additional media sites (facebook, twitter, and youtube) with lots of great pictures, text, and video detailing our work with the world's largest flyable replica's of the Hughes Aircraft Company. Aero Telemetry is one of those dream places for people with a passion for technology, design, aircraft modeling and aviation history. Howard Hughes aircraft are a big part of that, so I thought you might enjoy...
A very special thanks to Jason at SeaPlaneForum.Com for writing this article