May 19, 2010
At an “Ask An Expert” lecture by John Anderson, National Air and Space Museum curator of aeronautics, I learned that although Howard Hughes’ H-1 racer is displayed wearing its cross-country “long” wings, the high-speed-dash wings, which are shorter, are in storage at the Museum’s Garber facility in nearby Suitland, Maryland. Curators initially thought about removing the cross-country wings and installing the high-speed wings, but Associate Director Peter Jakab said,”It was an enormously complex job.” The H-1 has worn its long wings ever since.
I also learned that in the mid-1970s, the General Services Administration took ownership of Hughes’ H-4 Flying Boat. According to NASM’s catalogue of aircraft: “A three-cornered deal was arranged among GSA, the Smithsonian, and Hughes. The Smithsonian was given title to the Goose for a ‘legal instant’ and the deal immediately concluded with the exchange of the Spruce Goose for the H-1 and $700,000.”
NASM ought to put the short wings on eBay. Wouldn’t all us prop-heads love to hang them on a wall?