REMARKABLE ARCHIVE OF MATERIALS RELATING TO HUGHES' RECORD-BREAKING ROUND-THE-WORLD FLIGHT IN 1938, INCLUDING HANDWRITTEN HUGHES ITEMS AND THREE DOCUMENTS SIGNED BY HIM
HUGHES, Howard. Archive, including three documents signed and two pages of autograph notes. Various places: largely 1935-38. Folio, various sizes and materials, filling three 10-1/2 by 13-1/2 inch custom half morocco clamshell boxes.
Fascinating, extensive, and carefully curated archive relating to Howard Hughes' record-breaking 1938 flight around the globe, including three signed documents and two pages of autograph notes, as well as two flags carried by Hughes on his round-the-world flight, filling three large folio-size clamshell boxes. From the files of Albert Lodwick, President of the Aviation Manufacturing Corporation, Hughes' personal friend who served as press agent for the historic flight.
Multi-millionaire Howard Hughes made his name in Hollywood by producing numerous films, including Hell's Angels (1930), which launched the career of Jean Harlow and featured daredevil aerial footage, and the western The Outlaw (1943). In the 1930s, Hughes spent most of his time designing, building, and test-piloting advanced aircraft, breaking speed records year after year. September 13, 1935: Hughes established a new world's land plane speed record of 352.4 mph in a special racing plane designed and built by his own engineers. January 13-14, 1936: Hughes flew a stock model Northrop Gamma Monoplane from Los Angeles to New York in 9:27:10 to establish a new non-stop transcontinental record between the two cities, averaging 259 mph. January 19, 1937: Hughes broke his own record set in 1936, flying from Los Angeles to Newark in just 7:28:25.
Hughes' achievements at this time were remarkable. He had established every major land-speed record in less than two years. In 1937, he was the undisputed pilot of the year. The Ligue Internationale des Aviateurs awarded the Harmon International Trophy to Hughes as America's outstanding flyer, and also as the world's outstanding aviator during 1936, the first of many such awards he was to receive. The Harmon Trophy was presented to Hughes at the White House by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on March 2, 1937.
But Hughes was driven to greater achievements. He knew that the greatest acclaim came to pilots who flew over water, not land—such as Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, and Wiley Post. Hughes set about carefully orchestrating a well-conceived, thoroughly planned, and expertly executed flight around the world. The plane was all-important, and Hughes chose the Sikorsky S-43—a bulky, twin-engine amphibian. The plane was delivered to him in the summer of 1937. He applied to the Bureau of Air Commerce in Washington for permission to circumnavigate the globe. But he was turned down. (A copy of Hughes' application to the Federal Communications Commission for a new aircraft radio station license for the Sikorsky S-43—for the dates June 29, 1937-April 1, 1938—is included in the collection.)
Not discouraged, Hughes reapplied in the spring of 1938. His permit was about to be approved, when an S-43 crashed. The Bureau informed Hughes on May 23, 1938 that the approval was being held up until the accident could be investigated. Hughes did not want to delay his planned flight for another year, so he hurriedly conducted talks with Lockheed to acquire one of their newly designed planes—a Lockheed 14 Transport Monoplane, a twin-engine passenger plane—and requested permission from Lockheed to use it for his world flight. While awaiting the government's decision on his flight, Hughes and his mechanics worked day and night to ready the plane, outfitting it with special equipment to handle the long flight, including directional equipment, custom-designed radio and navigational equipment. Hughes also selected his crew: Edward Lund, flight engineer; Richard Stoddart, radio engineer/operator; Thomas Thurlow, navigator; Harry Condor, co-pilot and backup navigator. His press agent for the flight was Albert Lodwick, President of the Aviation Manufacturing Corporation, and a personal friend. Hughes' secretary was Charlotte Mays.
The flight was to begin at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, NY, the traditional starting point for transatlantic flights. During the last few days before the flight, Hughes hid out in a newly finished pavilion of the 1939 New York World's Fair. He christened the plane the New York World's Fair 1939, as a favor to the fair's organizer, Grover Whalen. By late afternoon, July 10, the last repairs and preparations were finished. At 7:20 pm EST, Hughes' round-the-world flight began; 91 hours, 14 minutes, and 10 seconds later—at 1:34 pm EST on July 14—Hughes landed back at Floyd Bennett a hero. The distance covered was 14,672 miles, with an average flying speed of 206.3 mph, with major stops in Paris, Moscow, and Omsk. The day after Hughes' return, July 15, a huge ticker-tape parade was orchestrated by New York mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia to honor Hughes and his crew for their tremendous achievement.
The archive—largely consisting of Albert Lodwick's complete files—has been organized in the following manner:
1. Pre-1938 flight—Miscellaneous materials
Includes a Discrepancy Report issued by the FCC concerning the checking of frequencies aboard Hughes' aircraft, and two telegrams from Stoddart to Miss Mays concerning the violation of FCC regulations, in which Stoddart states that no transmissions have been made in any amateur bands (19 items, mostly letters and two telegrams). Also includes the press releases for the awarding of the Harmon Trophy (two items).
2. Pre-1938 flight—Preparation-related materials
Includes press releases re: Hughes' previous flight speed records; Hughes' nine-page typed biography, written by Lodwick; an article on "The Growth of Air Transportation and the Changes in Aviation Equipment in the 10 Years Preceding this Flight" prepared for Richard Stoddart; a typed two-page summary of "Tentative Publicity Program for Howard Hughes' Flight"; a printed list of the frequencies, for each of the three on-board transmitters. Also includes telegrams to FCC, concerning radio frequencies and radio transmitter licensing (22 total). Also includes letters from various equipment manufacturers concerning plane instrumentation (24 total); letters and miscellaneous items concerning cooperating steamship lines, correspondence with NBC concerning the employment of Richard Stoddart and transmission equipment for use on-board the Lockheed (26 items).
3. Press releases concerning the July 10-14 flight
Includes typed excerpts from Lowell Thomas' Radio Broadcasts. July 8, concerning the upcoming flight, boldly inscribed at the top "Great work Al! Lowell"; and July 12, concerning the progress of his flight. Also includes a four-page typed chronology of the flight, a two-page typed list of questions prepared by a New Yorker magazine writer concerning Howard Hughes, and a 13-page typed transcript of Lodwick's interview with the N.A.A. (July 23-25), a lengthy detailed description of the flight.
4. Telegrams/Assorted Congratulatory Letters/Newspaper Clippings
A. Pre-1938 flight—includes one alerting Hughes and crew to keep eyes open for wreckage of a missing plane that was perhaps attempting a transatlantic flight (nine telegrams). Also includes an interesting telegram from "HOWARD" to Al Lodwick, c/o Charlotte Mays, June 24, 1938: "Very definitely agreed should be no mention of matter you refer to not only before flight but also after as publicity which would result from this item very cheap and undesirable STOP However Stan and Ode much better load same New York at night secretly and they feel this practical in Lunds hangar putting same first in bags in one of Lunds office. This preferable to loading here because if loaded here would have to be removed anyway in New York for final inspection of ship…"
B. During the flight—includes telegrams from Grover Whalen: "Howard Hughes and his crew in the New York Worlds Fair nineteen thirtynine are over half way to Fairbansk and are due to arrive in New York about four tomorrow afternoon…"; also includes an interesting one from Lodwick to Joe Crosson of Pan American Airways in Fairbanks, Alaska: "Message for Hughes. Please have customs clear Hughes plane and crew at Fairbanks so that we will not have that difficulty here as problem increasingly complicated due to 300 newspapers and photographers representative meeting Hughes on field. Tell Hughes that he must stop plane in front administration building to complete round world flight in exactly same spot as completed by Wiley Post"; and includes a typed letter from the Acting Chairman of the Brooklyn Citizens Committee of the New York World's Fair 1939 (Walter Hammitt) to Grover Whalen (the Fair's President) concerning "a fitting welcome" for Hughes upon his return to Floyd Bennett Field (27 items).
C. Congratulatory Correspondence—during and directly after the flight—some telegrams include typed carbon copies of the responses. Includes a typed letter signed by Lowell Thomas on his letterhead stationery (July 14, 1938) addressed to Al Lodwick: "Marvelous work! I take off my hat to you, as well as to the world fliers…" (34 items).
D. Miscellaneous post-flight telegrams (four items)
E. Newspaper Clipping information (complete file)
5. FCC/Radio-related Documents and Correspondence/Contractual Agreements with NBC
Includes numerous printed FCC forms (or typed copies of official forms) concerning authorizations for Howard R. Hughes to use and operate varied radio transmitting apparatus onboard his planes. The forms date from July, 1936 to August, 1939 and cover radio equipment on the following aircraft: Douglas DC-1, Sikorsky S-43, Lockheed Plane R-18973, and Boeing Monoplane. One FCC form is partially filled out in Hughes' handwriting (in pencil); in response to the question, "Has the applicant in the past 15 years been directly or indirectly interested in the ownership or control of any radio station other than those referred to under (a)? If so, state classes of stations and exact name of licensees." Hughes has boldly penned and signed "Aircraft – Howard R. Hughes – KHBHst Sikorsky S-43 – June 29, 1937 to April 1st, 1938." Other portions of the same application are filled out in Hughes' hand.
A. The original four-page typed legal agreement between Hughes and NBC (January 7, 1938): "Whereas, Hughes is planning an airplane flight around the world and is desirous of securing from National the services of Richard R. Stoddart… an employee of National, as a radio operator in connection with said flight, and Whereas, Hughes is desirous of securing a radio transmitter from National for use in connection with said flight, and whereas, National is desirous of broadcasting on its networks certain programs originating from the plane of Hughes during said flight…" Boldly signed on page 4 by Hughes, "Howard R. Hughes" and by the Vice-President of NBC.
B. The two-page typed letter from NBC (May 19, 1938) in which they object to Hughes' replacement of their relay broadcast transmitter with a composite transmitter. As a result, the letter serves as a legal document that supersedes the January 7 agreement and cancels the former document. Hughes has boldly signed his name at the document's conclusion: "Howard R. Hughes" and dated it "June 3rd" .
6. Phone Log—July, 1938
Complete phone message log for Al Lodwick and Howard Hughes (approximately 50 pages).
Includes Press Headquarters for the July, 1938 flight; the NY ticker tape parade; photos of Lund and Thurlow; a signed photograph of Lowell Thomas standing with a group of servicemen; a photograph of a cartoon by Reg Manning depicting Will Rogers and Wiley Post looking down from the heavens at the feat of Howard Hughes, etc. (11 items).
8. Post-flight Corresondence/Awards/Requests
A. TLS from Clifford B. Harmon, President, International League of Aviators, Paris, March 25, 1939, in which Hughes is notified that he has been chosen the aviator "who has done the most to advance aviation during the year 1938. In recognition of this meritorious work the International League of Aviators awards you the Harmon International Trophy for 1938." (Includes a typed carbon copy of Hughes' responses, unsigned.)
B. TLS from David L. Behncke, President, Air Line Pilots Association, Chicago, August 18, 1939, in which Behncke responds to Hughes' letter of August 8: "I was glad to receive your good letter of August 8 expressing appreciation for the honorary membership in the Air Line Pilots Association which was recently given you…"
C. TLS from Charles F. Horner, President, National Aeronautic Association, Washington, August 14, 1939, in which Horner writes, "It gives me great pleasure to advise you that this Committee has awarded the Trophy to you because of your flight around the world last summer."
D. Medal of Congress (2-3/4 inches in diameter)—awarded to Howard Hughes with his likeness on the front (dated August 7, 1939) for his July 10-14, 1938 flight.
Also includes numerous letters and correspondence, including telegrams, requesting Hughes' presence at events, or requests for press materials relating to Hughes' flight.
9. Items relating to Hughes' proposed 1939 Stratosphere flight
Hughes planned on making a non-stop transatlantic flight from New York to Paris in a Boeing 307 four-engine land monoplane, to determine the time necessary to cross the Atlantic, and to test the craft's pressurized cabin. Includes a copy of a confidential letter from Al Lodwick to Secretary of State Cordell Hull outlining the plans for the trip. Also includes a letter which indicates that Hughes' planned trip had to be canceled "due to the international situation" (20 items).
10. Thank-you letters for Flight Covers/Requests for Covers and Autographs
A. Thank-you letters: Hughes carried 250 first flight covers with him on his July 10-14 round-the-world flight. After the flight, he sent these only to those persons who were directly related to the flight and its successful completion. Upon receiving the covers, thank-you letters were received. A partial list of those who sent personal thank-you letters: Cordell Hull (Secretary of State), David Sarnoff (RCA), Charles Edison (Asst. Secretary of the Navy), Eddie Rickenbacker (Eastern Air Lines), Reg Manning (cartoonist), C.R. Smith (President, American Airlines), James Farley (Postmaster General), Harry H. Woodring (Secretary of War), Louis Johnson (Asst. Secretary of War), etc. (approximately 50 letters).
B. Requests for covers: Individuals from across the country wrote to Hughes requesting covers. All such requests were gracefully declined. Includes some letters, as well as the official press release concerning the covers.
C. Requests for autographs: numerous letters from autograph collectors requesting Hughes' autograph.
Near-fine with expected folds and edge-wear, the occasional punch hole or dampstain. An excellent and most desirable archive, a fascinating record of Hughes' historic flight.