Thursday, May 5, 2011

Moving the Spruce Goose, Part 2

The hull of the Spruce Goose on the Pontoon Bridge
heading to Terminal Island, June 1946.

In 1946, despite the end of World War II, Howard Hughes was continuing development of a massive flying boat, designated the H-4 Hercules and popularly known as the Spruce Goose.

The massive plane was constructed at Hughes Airport, just southwest of Culver City. But now it was time for final assembly of the plane, followed by testing, and the Port of Long Beach was chosen for this stage of the project, specifically Berth 120 on Pier E, at the southeast end of Terminal Island. (This is part of Pier T today.)

On June 11, 1946, Star House Movers began driving the 160-foot-long wing sections on a 28-mile route to Terminal Island. From the 15th to the 16th, the hull of the plane was moved. Utility companies had to raise or cut 2,300 power and phone lines along the route, which took the hull down Santa Fe Avenue and eventually over the Pontoon Bridge onto Terminal Island.

The assembled plane at Pier E, Berth 120.
Once in place, the pieces of the flying boat were assembled over the next year, until it was time for taxi tests on November 2, 1947. During the tests, Hughes opened up the throttles and the plane lifted off the water briefly for the plane's only flight.

The Spruce Goose (a name disliked by Hughes, plus the plane was made mostly of birch) then was returned to its hangar where it remained under wraps until 1980, when it was moved out in preparation for its move to the dome next to the Queen Mary.

Read about the later moves of the Spruce Goose

Photo gallery of the Spruce Goose's 1946 move and 1947 flight

The wings are moved down Seaside Boulevard. The Cyclone Racer
and other Long Beach landmarks can be seen in the background.

No comments: