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Howard Hughes was a very capable man, a millionaire industrialist, a movie director and producer, a daring pilot and an aeronautical engineer that participated in the war effort of the United States against the axis, but the whole exercise meant a particularly burden for him that eventually led to his madness.
During WWII, the German submarines proved lethal against ships crossing the North Atlantic, so Hughes and Henry Kaiser, his partner in this particular case, got a government contract to built three giant transport aircraft that would eventually led the U.S. to carry personnel and equipment across the ocean in a safer way.
So Hughes went to the design board and came up with an enormous amphibian that carried eight engines and would lift up to 750 soldiers into the air. But the project faced problems from the beginning: since there was no available aluminium, the Hercules, as it was dubbed, had to be built using wood, much heavier and difficult to work with than metal.
The aircraft required its own, huge, controlled climate hangar and the costs soared. The whole task proved much bigger than thought because of the particular complexity of such a giant. Meanwhile, the war ended, the government cancelled the contract, Mr. Kaiser abandoned the project and congressmen in hope of gaining publicity thorough politics began investigating him. Mr. Hughes won in the end and promised that the machine will fly, even at his own personal expense, and that is what the Hercules did in 1947 for just a minute: the aircraft briefly took off from the sea in California, just to prove that it could in fact, fly.
Then, it went back into its hangar to be kept there in flying condition for the next 29 years, until the death of Mr. Hughes who never doubted about his creation. Now, the Hercules sits at a museum. Truly, a man who believed in his own gambles: that's how fortunes are made.
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