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Hughes went full-throttle into the aviation chapter of his life in 1932 when he formed the Hughes Aircraft Company as a division of the company founded by his father, the Hughes Tool Company. After purchasing a fleet of aircraft used in his 1930 film Hell’s Angels, Hughes poured his financial and engineering resources into creating faster and more efficient aircraft for military and transportation purposes (McCaffery, 2005). In 1935, the aviator’s ambitions led him to claim the airspeed record for an airplane taking off from land, at 352 miles per hour, which was accomplished in the most technologically innovative aircraft of its time, the Hughes H-1 Racer. He recruited and employed the best help he could find to build this plane, which had more innovations than any plane at the time, complete with retractable landing gear, flushed rivets, and a streamlined aerodynamic body − all firsts in aviation (Ibid.). And just a couple years later, Hughes flew a redesigned version of the H-1 in a non-stop flight from Los Angeles to Newark in a record-setting time of just under seven-and-a-half hours, with an average speed of 322 miles per hour (Howard Hughes Flies, 2011). ...
This fixation soon manifested into early genius, as at the tender age of 11, he constructed Houston’s first radio transmitter, and the following year, he was the first in his hometown to build a motorized bicycle, using parts from his father’s steam engine ? he also took his first flying lesson at 14 (Pound, 2011). These, along with his auditing of Caltech math and aeronautical engineering courses, were all building blocks to Hughes’ claims to fame, as he became a chip of the old block of this father, who invented a self-sharpening oil tool drill bit during his company’s early stages – a business that became a lucrative fairly quickly. In 1922, the teenager’s mother died, and just two years later, when he was only 19, his father also passed and left him 75 percent of the family’s fortune, (Pound, 2011). The traumatic experience of his parents’ deaths sparked the young Hughes’ philanthropic endeavors, as he created a medical research laboratory in 1925 and allocated monies that would later christen the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 1953 that focused on biomedical research, (Brown & Broeske, 2004, p. 34). This transference of wealth in 1925 also ignited the financial independence that propelled Hughes to drop out of Rice University, marry Ella Botts Rice, and bridle his dreams in filmmaking – all in the same year. His first film in 1927 was a financial success, and the following year, he won the first Academy Award for Best Director of a Comedy Picture in his second film (Two Arabian Knights), (Pound, 2011). That same year, he was nominated for an Academy award for The Racket, and was also nominated in 1931 for The Front Page, while his other acclaimed films over the years included Hell’s Angels (1930),
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