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#1
This Year In Film / Re: Babylon (dir. Damien Chaze...
Last post by Alexandro - Yesterday at 10:39:17 PM
Quote from: WorldForgot on Yesterday at 07:11:57 PMWakanda Forever is campaigning really hard in LA. For Your Consideration efforts are all over the city so I think you can feel that most of the praise iz lubricated.

Sure, but Babylon had it's share of studio muscle behind it when released and it got a very skeptical reception (to say the least). I understand the Marvel machine pushes hard but damn, son. From the best picture nominees this year, I still have to watch Women Talking and Triangle of Sadness. I've liked them all so far, but with the exception of Tar (it's own beast, no doubt), this one was a more stimulating time at the movies than all the others combined.
#2
This Year In Film / Re: Babylon (dir. Damien Chaze...
Last post by WorldForgot - Yesterday at 07:11:57 PM
Wakanda Forever is campaigning really hard in LA. For Your Consideration efforts are all over the city so I think you can feel that most of the praise iz lubricated.
#3
This Year In Film / Re: Babylon (dir. Damien Chaze...
Last post by Alexandro - Yesterday at 07:04:21 PM
Quote from: The Ultimate Badass on Yesterday at 10:50:06 AMIn Babylon, Hollywood is revealed as the unstoppable, shape-shifting devourer of souls that we mortals are helpless but to be held in thrall to. Or, at least that's how it used to be. Because Babylon is also a eulogy for Hollywood as we know it, which after years of increasingly moribund stumbling has finally been put out of its misery with a Covidian death punch. It is currently a lifeless cadaver propelled along only by its own inertia. Something new will soon emerge from its dead husk, and I don't think anyone really knows what form it will take this time.

Yes, to me Babylon says all this, among other things, and entertainingly so. The movie easily held my attention over its 3hr+ running time.

As mentioned previously, Chazelle liberally borrows from the great director's of the past and present, though he does seem to fall slightly short of his influences on a technical level. What he does have going for him is an incredible knack for building tension. The way he constructs a scene brings to mind the way that music is structured (something I admit to knowing little about). He builds, builds, and builds until it seems like it cant build anymore, and then it does build more, until it reaches its massive, orgasmic catharsis. This is not a new trick, but Chazelle does it particularly well and it works for me.

All in all, I don't remember the last time I found a movie as thought provoking and satisfying as Babylon. The fact that a movie like this produces such little interest is yet further proof of the artform's demise. I'm looking forward to seeing it again.



Mostly, I felt the same. I have some misgivings about the final 20 minutes or so (and I'll rewatch surely) but it's a bit baffling and depressing to read the negative reviews for this. When fucking Wakanda Forever gets universal praise and this is deemed superficial or reiterative, we're fucked.

It's way better than the industry reaction led me to believe.
#4
The Grapevine / Therapy Dogs (Ethan Eng)
Last post by WorldForgot - Yesterday at 03:38:50 PM




Teen Suicide will be performing in conjunction with the NYC premiere of Ethan Eng's new documentary Therapy Dogs, which features music by both Teen Suicide and related project Ricky Eat Acid, as well as Show Me The Body and Morgan Powers. The NY premiere is on March 8 at Public Records in Brooklyn.

Quote[...] Therapy Dogs is a real coming of age story set in a contemporary high school that Ethan and Justin were attending. Taking viewers on a ride through their final blowout year with an unfiltered look into the lives of teenagers today.

[...] Unlike most film productions that need permits and background actors to film a realistic school scene, Ethan and Justin were able to just pick up the camera and shoot. By using their school and real students, they managed to capture a completely authentic portrait of high school, giving access into a world adults are kept out of. House parties with underage drinking, abandoned exploration, and death defying teenage stunts are staples of the suburban teenage experience that they were able to freely roam through.

[...] In order to achieve a realistic portrayal of high school, it was filmed under the guise of a yearbook video. And with this they were able to bring the camera inside classrooms, school events, and graduation while covertly mic'ing actors up and conducting scenes. Students opened up to the camera effortlessly revealing their true personalities. This undercover style of shooting is quite thrilling and added a coat of authenticity which is quite resonant and carries over onto the screen.
#5
News and Theory / Re: Theatrical Exhibition
Last post by WorldForgot - Yesterday at 12:23:39 PM
AMC Theatres Unveils Movie Ticket Prices Based on Seat Locations

QuoteAMC Theatres is adding sightlines to its cinema experience, along with blockbuster movies.

The mega-exhibitor is following music concerts, sporting events and other entertainment venues in setting its ticket pricing strategy to sightlines for seating selections. AMC patrons attending cinemas after 4 p.m. will be able to pay different prices based on their proximity to the movie screen within the auditorium.

That will put seats in Value Sightline, Standard Sightline, and Preferred Sightline sections. Standard sightline seats will be the most common in auditoriums and available for the traditional cost of a movie ticket.

I wonder how this will affect the already-frustrating blockbuster madness of "opening day" business for things like Oppenheimer and Barbie. Phil Nobile, editor in chief of Fangoria, tweeted that the test theater seating maps-- this program is being piloted with current box office, Magic Mike 3 and Avatar 2, right now -- indicate selling out a hall at with this model actually brings less money to the theater than selling out at standard current price.
#6
This Year In Film / Re: Babylon (dir. Damien Chaze...
Last post by The Ultimate Badass - Yesterday at 10:50:06 AM
In Babylon, Hollywood is revealed as the unstoppable, shape-shifting devourer of souls that we mortals are helpless but to be held in thrall to. Or, at least that's how it used to be. Because Babylon is also a eulogy for Hollywood as we know it, which after years of increasingly moribund stumbling has finally been put out of its misery with a Covidian death punch. It is currently a lifeless cadaver propelled along only by its own inertia. Something new will soon emerge from its dead husk, and I don't think anyone really knows what form it will take this time.

Yes, to me Babylon says all this, among other things, and entertainingly so. The movie easily held my attention over its 3hr+ running time.

As mentioned previously, Chazelle liberally borrows from the great director's of the past and present, though he does seem to fall slightly short of his influences on a technical level. What he does have going for him is an incredible knack for building tension. The way he constructs a scene brings to mind the way that music is structured (something I admit to knowing little about). He builds, builds, and builds until it seems like it cant build anymore, and then it does build more, until it reaches its massive, orgasmic catharsis. This is not a new trick, but Chazelle does it particularly well and it works for me.

All in all, I don't remember the last time I found a movie as thought provoking and satisfying as Babylon. The fact that a movie like this produces such little interest is yet further proof of the artform's demise. I'm looking forward to seeing it again.

#7
News and Theory / HH2
Last post by Scrooby - Yesterday at 04:27:07 AM
The next day New Yorkers has an excuse to enjoy a magnitudinous party, the city's largest celebration of the 1930s. Schools suspended their classes and businesses locked their doors because no one wanted to miss the tickertape parade celebrating Aviator Howard Hughes, American hero.


The crowd along the parade route began building at 10:00 a.m. under a hot July sun. Up and down the sidewalks the good-natured throng chanted, "We want Hughes! We want Hughes!" Many had brought hand-drawn signs, variations on "Welcome home!" American flags fluttered up and down the bustling streets. 2,500 policemen kept order along the route.


Typically, Howard Hughes would adhere to his own schedule. After picking up Hughes' crewmembers at Hampshire House at Central Park South at 12:15 p.m., the whole motorcade—including Mayor La Guardia, police motorcyles—moved reluctantly onward to Columbus Circle, where it stood idling, waiting for Howard Hughes to arrive for his own parade. Everyone else was on schedule, but why hadn't Hughes arrived at Hampshire House? Many hundreds of thousands of people along the parade route were waiting for him. Where was he? Though he had risen at nine that morning in his suite at the Drake Hotel, which was more than enough time for Hughes to wash, shave, and have a new suit brought to him, he would still be late for his own parade. Why? Because he couldn't find a comb. At noon, the time the parade had been originally scheduled to start, a hotel employee had to rush out to find a fine-toothed comb. Finally Hughes appeared downstairs in the lobby of the Drake Hotel where he was greeted by a gang of reporters and photographers. A probably flustered Al Lodwick appeared on the scene and forthwith whisked Hughes first to Hampshire House, where they picked up Grover Whalen, and then to Columbus Circle, where the three of them took their place in the official car.[79]


Just after 12:30 p.m., the parade finally started, moving slowly up lower Broadway toward City Hall. At first "nervous and ill at ease," according to the New York Times, the "shy and embarrassed" Hughes kept biting his lips, and he kept fussing with his lucky fedora (described as a "battered felt hat"), removing it then returning it to his head more than a dozen times.[80] The noisy spectacle Hughes was greeted by had reduced him to dumbstruck awe. This party put the Hell's Angels Hollywood premiere in the shade.


Between 750,000 and 1,000,000 people had crowded onto Broadway to shout approval of Hughes and his associates as they rolled by. Many more hundreds of thousands of people cheered from windows overlooking the procession and tossed paper into the air. The amount of paper fluttering down between the skyscrapers—ticker tape, torn telephone books, strips of newspaper, telegram blanks—was incredible, like a snow storm in July.


Hughes sat at the head of the procession in an open-top car, between two less-well-known personages, Albert Lodwick and Grover Whalen. Hughes was dressed in a dark double-breasted suit which hung loose on his gangly frame; his hair was parted down the middle and slicked back. He looked distinctly boyish, no older than a teenager, as he took in the flattering sight overwhelming him. Sometimes he looked high up and waved, sometimes he looked back over his shoulder.


There were nine cars of honored personages in all; Hughes, no credit-hog, had ensured that his crewmembers and their wives, as well as Odekirk and all seventeen of the flight technical staff, remained prominent during the celebration. Following up the parade were seven cars of reporters and photographers.


Hughes "gradually relaxed", and was finally "smiling broadly" as the procession proceeded up Broadway.[81] Some overly enthusiastic well-wishers eluded police and ran up to Hughes' car and got the ordinarily fastidious Hughes to shake hands with them.[82] At City Hall, the Fire Department Band erupted in music when the procession was sighted. The immense crowd of spectators roared: "Ya-a-ay, Hughes!" "Howard! Howard!"[83]


On the steps of City Hall the Hughes party was welcomed by Mayor La Guardia and two former mayors of the city, James J. Walker and John Patrick O'Brien. Inside City Hall, Mayor LaGuardia presented a key to the city to Hughes and his crew. Jesse Holman Jones, chairman of the Federal government's Reconstruction Finance Corporation, introduced Hughes, who, polite and low-key, stepped up to an array of a half-dozen microphones feeding a live broadcast to radio stations across the country.[84] In what the Times described as a "quiet, diffident voice," Hughes read from a manuscript he had dashed off that morning in his suite at the Drake Hotel. (Time magazine described him as "fumbling with some sheets of paper."[85]) It was an unpretentious, self-effacing speech, in which Hughes was more than willing to share the acclaim:


The most advanced and newest equipment developed by navigators and radio engineers furnished me with such accurate information as to the position of the plane at all times that I estimate for the total trip we traveled only twenty miles more than a direct course between the various points at which we stopped.


This point was one of the most remarkable aspects of the record-breaking flight. Hughes went on to cite the Hughes Aircraft Company, but modestly, without naming it as such:


The airplane was fast because it was the product of over 200,000 engineering hours. Young men trained mostly at the California Institute of Technology, working in a factory in California, put in 200,000 hours of concentrated thought to develop that machine.


Hughes said that he had in no way strained the Super Electra's engines during the flight, which therefore demonstrated that long-range air passenger travel was now a thing of the present, not the future. This was an important point not only to the world of aviation but to Hughes personally—one year later he is going to buy in to TWA.


In public Hughes was never one to blow his own horn, which endeared him to the American people:


If credit is due anyone, it is due to the men who designed and perfected to its present remarkable state of efficiency the modern American flying machine and equipment. If we made a fast flight, it is because so many young men in this country went to engineering schools, worked hard at drafting tables and designed a fast airplane and navigation and radio equipment which would keep this plane upon its course. All we did was operate the equipment and plane according to the instruction book accompanying the article.


Yet Hughes, control-freak, did give himself a little pat on the back:


There is one thing about the flight which pleases me more than the actual time which elapsed—that is the fact that we made no unscheduled stops. We arrived at every destination within a few minutes of the time which we set as our arrival time.


Turning his thoughts to the bigger picture, Hughes described the international network of radio communications now available to pilots of all nationalities, and hoped that this cooperation between nations might contribute to an embracing of a universal brotherhood of mankind and world peace. However, Hughes, ardent American, made it clear where his best sympathies lay:


If this flight may have demonstrated to Europe the fact that American engineers and American workmen can build just as fine and just as efficient an airplane and its equipment as any other country in the world, then I certainly will feel it has been well worth while.


If Hughes had been dynamic in deed, his reserved speechifying left a little to be desired, as he well understood:


I suppose I haven't put this very well. I get a little nervous here and don't say just what I want to. But I hope you understand.[86]


Everybody understood. "He had the face of a poet and the shyness of a schoolboy," described the New York Times."[87]


Then the tickertape procession resumed. Fire stations along the route sounded their engines' sirens in tribute. Hughes was brought up Fifth Avenue, where the crowds proved to be just as strong as earlier, numbering 500,000 people at least, reducing Fifth Avenue to half its width. The turn-out surprised the police department, which had assigned only 500 policemen to the area.


In all, the police department estimated that more than 2 million people cheered Hughes during his tickertape parade. The party outstripped the histrionic celebrations upon the return of Charles Lindbergh from his groundbreaking solo New York to Paris flight of May 1927. Deputy Commissioner William Powell subsequently announced that the Department of Sanitation had gathered only 1,600 tons in the wake of Lindbergh's parade, while for the Hughes celebration 1,800 tons of paper had rained down from the heights to pile up in the streets.[88] Howard Hughes' tickertape parade remained in the record books as New York's biggest party until the return of General Douglas MacArthur from Korea on April 20, 1951.[89]


*


After the parade, Hughes and his crew went to a private luncheon, hosted by Grover Whalen, at the Metropolitan Club at Fifth Avenue and Sixtieth Street. Among the official guests at the luncheon were Mayor La Guardia, former Mayors Walker and O'Brien, and the Borough Presidents of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. A crowd of 3,000 spectators stood outside, hoping to catch a glimpse of the fliers. The public couldn't get enough of Howard Hughes.[90]


Lunch ended at 4:37 p.m., according to the New York Times, but Hughes apparently left in secret a short time earlier. According to William Randolph Hearst, Jr. in 1972, Hughes gave the slip to his associates and met with Hearst at the old N.Y. Yacht Club at the East River at 2:30 p.m. Hearst and Hughes went flying over Long Island Sound in Hearst's small Aeronca plane. "At his insistence," Hearst recalled, "I did the flying."[91]

Hughes left Al Lodwick's apartment at 65 East Fifty-fifth Street at 9:10 p.m.; his car, accompanied by a pair of police motorcycles, carried out cunning maneuvers and eluded pursuing reporters.[92] Hughes disappeared into the night to a rendezvous with Katharine Hepburn.[93]
#8
News and Theory / Nolan wrote a script on Howard...
Last post by Scrooby - Yesterday at 04:25:39 AM
THE AMAZING YEAR : 1938

 

Aviator Howard Hughes had been named America's Greatest Pilot for 1936, and had already proven himself to be America's Greatest Pilot for 1937. But Hughes, described by the New York Times as "millionaire sportsman pilot" and "a playboy with a purpose", wouldn't be satisfied until he attempted the grandest aviation challenge of them all, the speed record for an around-the-world flight.[1]

 

THE ROUND-THE-WORLD FLIGHT OF 1938. After carrying out a series of rigorous flight tests, Hughes was certain that neither his DC-1 nor S-43 were suitable for a round-the-world flight, so he went looking for yet another passenger plane.[2] Thus would begin Hughes' long and fruitful professional relationship with the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation of Burbank, California. Hughes acquired a Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra twin-engine transport for $60,000 on May 20, 1938.[3]

 

Lockheed's Model 14 first flew on July 29, 1937. More advanced than the DC-2 yet a little smaller, the Super Electra had a wing span of 65 ft 6 in; an area of 551 sq ft; and, ordinarily, its fuselage could carry up to fourteen passengers. It was the first production-line airplane to use Fowler flaps (which, when extended, increased wing area to allow for a shorter take-off distance; and which, when lowered, increased wing area to increase drag on approach).

 

The plane that Lockheed delivered to Hughes was custom-built to his specifications and given special model number 14-N2. Two extra fuel tanks had been set in the center of the fuselage to make six fuel tanks in total, more than doubling the plane's fuel capacity to up to 1,844 gallons. The two Curtis-Wright GR-1820-6102 engines, each capable of 1,100 horsepower, had been built especially for Hughes' plane.

 

The plane would be promptly refitted for a fifteen-thousand mile flight. From late May to early July, Glenn Odekirk oversaw the internal and external modification of the Model 14-N2 at the Hughes Aircraft Company site in Burbank. The operation was carried out amid great secrecy. The plane was changed to the extent that the only real resemblance to a Lockheed Super Electra that remained was the shape of the airframe. Before team leader Odekirk and Hughes' other engineers at Burbank were through, Hughes' Super Electra became the most technically-advanced private airplane in the world.

 

Hughes' souped-up Model 14 had a potential cruising speed of 235 mph, with a range of 4,700 miles nonstop. The engines had been altered to hold 150 gallons of oil. A complex oxygen supply system was installed. The exterior paint was sanded down to cut down glare. Inside the cockpit, the navigation instrumentation installed by Hughes' engineers was state-of-the-art. There were directional gyros and artificial horizons (built by Sperry); two radio compasses (built by Kolsman and Pioneer), one to home in on radio beams, the other to triangulate position using ship or shore stations; the Fairchild-Maxon Line-of-Position computer (built by Fairchild Aviation); and other navigation equipment (built by Longines). Only recently introduced, the "Sperry Gyro Pilot" was an early automatic pilot, automatically maintaining pitch attitude and precise direction when cruising at between 10,000 and 15,000 feet. The cockpit's array of state-of-the-art piloting, navigation, and radio equipment was second-to-none. Time magazine called it "the most foolproof private plane that ever flew." Once again had Hughes realized an airplane of the future. The Super Electra was given a nickname earlier used for Hughes's thoroughly modified DC-1—the "flying laboratory".[4]

 

Three years had been spent in meticulous planning for the globe-girdling flight.[5] Various countries of the world would have to be involved, most prominently Canada, Holland, Great Britain, France, Germany, and the Soviet Union. The flight would be as much an organizational feat as an aerial one.

 

Hughes and his meteorological team headed by W. C. Rockefeller had gathered maps, including some from the Navy's Hydrographic Office, the United States Coast Guard, and National Geographic magazine, and traced out a route for the flight. Hughes would fly the "great circle course", circumnavigating the upper reaches of the northern hemisphere.[6]  Through Albert I. Lodwick, Hughes' flight operations manager and main representative for the project, permission was obtained to land in various countries such as France and Soviet Russia. Maps of Soviet territory were supplied by the Soviet Embassy. Permissions to land in other European countries were also arranged in case of emergency. A vast network of radio communications centers was coordinated throughout many of the countries of the northern hemisphere. Blueprints of his customized plane were sent to various foreign landing sites so native mechanics would have advance knowledge in case emergency servicing was needed. Extra fuel supplies were arranged to be available at the airstrips. For two weeks leading up to the flight, Rockefeller and his team of meteorologists collected and analyzed weather data from all points along Hughes' northern route.[7]

 

Flying around-the-world was a dangerous prospect. Wiley Post had recently crashed and burned in an attempt to outdo his first solo global flight of July 1933. Two years after Post's untimely death, Amelia Earhart disappeared over the South Pacific during her own attempt in 1937. Furthermore, Edwin Musick, another of the world's most famous pilots—having flown from San Francisco to Manila, winning him the Harmon trophy in 1935, and then from San Francisco to New Zealand in 1937—was killed when his Pan American flying boat, the Samoan Clipper, exploded in flight over the South Pacific on January 11, 1938. Hence, before the flight, Hughes drafted a new will, once more leaving virtually his entire fortune to his proposed Medical Research Laboratories.[8]

 

In the days leading up to the daring flight the American media went into a frenzy of coverage. Howard Hughes the Aviator was big news. Several thousand spectators massed at Floyd Bennett Airfield in Brooklyn, New York, to witness Hughes fly in from Wichita, Kansas in the early evening of July 4. Opened in 1931, Floyd Bennett Field was New York City's first municipal airport, and through the 1930s many pioneering flights began or ended here. When the Lockheed-14 landed at 6:48 p.m., the crowd cheered in admiration. Flying across the country from the west coast, Hughes and his crew had tested the plane's fuel consumption, engine performance, radios, and other details. Hughes emerged from the cockpit in casual wear—"old gray coat, wrinkled trousers and a white shirt, badly frayed from wear, and a battered fedora hat", according to the New York Times. The plane was stored in Hangar 7. Some fervent aviation fans camped out in sleeping bags and tents on the outskirts of the airfield, not wanting to miss the take-off when it happened.[9]

 

As a goodwill gesture to the people of New York, Hughes had christened the Super Electra the New York World's Fair 1939. The theme of the international exhibition, which was in the process of construction in Flushing Meadows Park in nearby Queens, was "The World of Tomorrow".[10]

 

Over the next week, Hughes' ground crew—Carl Tieddemann, Gus Sidel, and Stanley Bell—went over the plane with an exacting eye. When the two engines were taken down and dismantled for inspection, it was discovered that the high-octane gasoline that Hughes had chosen had worn out the engines' cylinders during the flight east, so all eighteen cylinders were replaced. A magneto on one of the engines was also replaced.

 

Hughes was staying at a suite at the Drake Hotel on Park Avenue. During his week in Manhattan he met periodically with Katharine Hepburn at her friend's apartment on East 52nd Street. He also personally tested no less than 15 brands of bread to arrive at the most nutritious; then loaded the plane with ten pounds of ham and cheese sandwiches. Also a supply of canned goods; fifteen gallons of drinking water; three quarts of coffee; several quarts of milk; and frozen milk.[11] He had also sent the same kind of bottled water to all ten refueling stations along his global route so he and his crew wouldn't have to worry about drinking water.

 

Accompanying him on the flight would be a four man crew, each an expert in his field. Richard N. Stoddart, 38, radio engineer, had already served in that capacity for at least one of Hughes' experimental DC-1 flights of 1936-37. He took a leave of absence from NBC to join this latest adventure, and had built one of the transmitters for the Super Electra. Edward Lund, 32, engineer mechanic, had worked for Hughes since the outset of the proto-Hughes Aircraft Company in 1932. Harry P. McLean Connor, 39, navigator, had served as navigator for some historic aircraft flights, including the first New York to Bermuda nonstop flight in 1930. He was working as a navigator for the Department of Commerce when he got the call from Hughes. Thomas L. Thurlow, 33, navigator, was a career Army man who, just prior to the flight, was stationed at the Army Air Corps' base of operations at Wright Field, Ohio. He had innovated a special periscopic drift indicator to maintain aircraft position over water, as well as inventing what Hughes described as "the best type of sextant", both of which were used on the flight. The crew called Hughes "the chief".[12]

 

While Hughes diligently consulted and analyzed weather charts in the run-up to the flight, the entire plane was meticulously checked, fine-tuned, and readied-to-perfection. Supervising the mechanics, Glenn Odekirk worked for days without sleep. Finally the weather data suggested that the conditions were favorable for a flight. Before making his final decision, however, Hughes had awaited one final set of reports—which turned out to be favorable. To his crew Hughes commented, "Let's get off before something else happens."[13]

 

According to Hughes' orders, fueling of the Super Electra began at 2 a.m. on the morning of Sunday, July 10, 1938. The plane's fuel tanks were loaded with 1,500 gallons of gasoline, a little under capacity. On the morning of the flight, Hughes was driven with Hepburn in her chauffeur-driven family car to the airfield. "You'll be hearing from me, kiddo," he told her as he took his leave.[14]

 

An audience of ten thousand spectators had gathered to witness the event, many of whom had waited expectantly in place for over twenty-four hours, much of the time under a hot summer sun.[15] Grover A. Whalen, President and Commissioner General of the New York World's Fair, 1939, Incorporated, said a few words in dedication prior to take-off, describing the flight as "a dramatic and glorious undertaking" and a "vivid symbol of the possibilities of international cooperation."[16] Hughes addressed the respectful crowd during the pre-flight ceremony: "We hope that our flight may prove a contribution to the cause of friendship between nations and that through their outstanding fliers, for whom the common bond of aviation transcends national boundaries, this cause may be furthered."[17]

 

Hughes, who had evidently planned to be dressed in his customary flight attire—gray double-breasted suit and tie, with lucky fedora on top—chose to forgo the jacket and tie for comfort's sake. Photographers caught him looking casual and somewhat out of place in white shirt and dark trousers beside his four crewmembers all dressed in suits and ties.[18] He looked tired and his face was shadowed with stubble. The New York Times humorously described the millionaire's appearance as "the despair of America's tailors."[19] Funnier still was this assessment by the Brooklyn Eagle: "He looked like a bum who'd fallen off the turnip truck."[20] Adding to the idiosyncracy of the event, eighty pounds of ping-pong balls had been loaded into the hold of the Super Electra for ballast.[21]

 

The crew members said goodbye to their loved ones. "I'll be seeing you," Lieutenant Thurlow said to his wife, kissing her. Characteristically, no one close to Hughes personally was there to wish him well. Before the plane rolled away Mrs. Connor broke through the police cordon and stuck a wad of chewing gum to the tail. "For good luck," she said.[22]

 

Hughes, Lund, and Stoddart were be positioned up front, forward of the two interior fuel tanks set in the middle of the fuselage, while navigators Thurlow and Connor sat aft of the tanks, behind the wings.[23] The Super Electra was outfitted with so much gear that its five passengers would have barely enough room to move around. The plane carried oxygen tanks; ethyl to mix with ordinary fuel just in case; a solar still (to make seawater drinkable); a kite (to raise an emergency radio antenna); parachutes, flares, sleeping bags, life rafts; fishing tackle; hunting knife; shotgun; even a snakebite remedy. An air-suction commode had been installed. While the normal gross load of the Lockheed Model 14 was 17,500 pounds, Hughes' thoroughly modified version would carry an unprecedented 25,000 pounds gross load at take-off. The plane was so heavy that custom tires had to be supplied by Goodrich. Because the plane's weight at take-off was so high, the Civil Aeronautics Administration had given Hughes' aircraft an experimental registration, NX18973.[24]

 

The plane was also carrying some 300 letters addressed to various high officials of foreign governments contributing to the New York World's Fair; Hughes would mail these when he reached Paris. The official letter by Grover Whalen began: "Mr. Howard Hughes, aeronautical adviser to the New York World's Fair, on his epic-making transatlantic flight affords us an opportunity to send you this message of greetings and good-will . . ." Furthermore, Hughes was also taking with him up to 700 specially-stamped letters to be postmarked for philatelists duing his stops.[25]

 

Sitting in the cockpit, Hughes waved for the cameras and smiled as the two engines came alive. At 7:19:30 p.m. on July 10, the sleek, metal, twin-tailed Super Electra started down the 3,500-foot northwest-to-southeast runway, its silver fuselage glimmering spectacularly in the setting sun. The plane, carrying its 25,000 pounds of weight, lumbered down the runway and only slowly gained speed. "Daddy, good-bye, good luck, daddy!" yelled youngster Tommy, Jr., waving enthusiastically to his dad Lieutenant Thurlow.

 

Take-off would turn out to be a heart-in-the-throat moment. Runway was running out fast but the wheels were not yet lifting off. The heavy Super Electra ran off the end of the concrete runway and bumped along unpaved earth for 100 feet. The crowd of spectators held its collective breath. Amid a great cloud of dust the eight-ton plane lifted into the air, just over a field of red clover, at 7:20 p.m. The crowd broke out in cheers in admiration. The plane climbed slowly and banked northeast. Hughes dipped his wings toward Fenwick before heading out over the Atlantic.

 

Hughes said later that "taking off from Floyd Bennett Field" was, because of the heavy weight of the plane, "the most dangerous part of the flight. We had a wing load of forty-seven pounds to the square foot, the greatest wing load I have ever heard of." Once up in the air, Hughes had to increase the speed from 125 to 175 miles per hour "to keep from 'mushing'" (flying tail-heavy).[26]

 

If the flight had begun suspensefully at take-off, it would remain so for much of the first leg. Flying over eastern Canada by 10:00 p.m., Hughes and crew encountered thick mists and fog. Then one of the plane's antennas broke, and communication was suspended between midnight and 1:36 a.m. while the crew installed a new exterior antenna using an emergency hand reel. At 2:30 a.m., 220 miles off Newfoundland, warm air temperature coupled with the heavy weight of the plane forced Hughes to crank up the engines to maintain altitude. Higher horsepower meant faster fuel consumption. "I hope we get to Paris before we run out of gas, but I am not so sure," Hughes said into the radio.[27] As the weight of the plane lowered as fuel burned, Hughes throttled back the engine in increments accordingly. He remained in close contact with his flight control center at the New York World's Fair throughout the tense ocean crossing. Compounding the tension was the temperature inside the plane—90 degrees Fahrenheit. Luckily, the weather would clear over the Atlantic Ocean and favorable tail winds of up to 35 miles an hour would hasten the plane along.

 

The Super Electra's average speed between New York and Paris would be 220 miles an hour. Hughes remained at the controls for most of the time, while the other crew members took cat naps in turn. For much of the time the Super Electra flew above the clouds.

 

To reckon the position of the plane while flying over the dark Atlantic, Hughes remained in contact with more than a dozen transatlantic steamships at sea, including the SS Empress of Britain; SS Duchess of Richmond, SS Oslofjord; SS Empress of Australia; SS Batory; Ile de France. Hughes also kept in contact with the Radio Corporation of America's short-wave station at Riverhead, Long Island; and CBS's short-wave station at Wayne, New Jersey. Radio contact would be used to help reckon the plane's position as well as communicate up-to-the-minute weather reports from all points along Hughes' route. Saturn and Jupiter, prominent in the night sky, aided in celestial navigation, which was correlated to the radio data.[28]

 

By the latter stage of the Atlantic crossing, Hughes had dropped to 375 h.p. per engine, which managed to reduce the fuel intake from 45 gallons of fuel per hour per engine to 32½ gallons per hour per engine. "That's the whole story," Hughes said later. "It is the only way that plane could be stretched that far."[29]

 

Other potential problems were afoot. With Hughes already well into the flight, German officials communicated to Albert Lodwick, Hughes' flight operations manager stationed at the World's Fair site, that Germany had changed its mind and was now refusing the Hughes plane to enter its airspace. Lodwick spent tense hours responding to Berlin via telephone and cable, and would finally bring the Nazis round to their original thinking.[30]

 

Sixteen hours and thirty-five minutes after taking off from New York City Hughes and his crew were on the ground at Le Bourget Airport in Paris. The plane had covered 3,641 miles with only 100 gallons of gas left in the tanks. Having followed almost exactly the flight path of Charles A. Lindbergh's famous Atlantic crossing of 1927, Hughes had cut the time of Lindbergh's flight by half. (Moreover this first leg of Hughes' flight was the first successful non-stop New York to Paris flight since Lindbergh's.[31]) Greeting the fliers at the Paris airport was an assembled crowd of dignitaries including United States Ambassador William C. Bullitt, with whom Hughes shook hands upon debarking from the plane. A crowd of civilian onlookers, including women in evening dress, welcomed Hughes warmly. There was also a gang of newspaper correspondents capturing the details. Hughes, wearing his wrinkled gray suit and lucky brown fedora, was all business, coming across as polite but distant to the assembled crowd. He had originally hoped to leave Paris within two hours, but eight hours in all would be lost at Le Bourget while a repair was made to the tail-wheel of the plane.

 

Hughes later admitted that the damage had occurred upon taking off from Floyd Bennett Field. Edward Lund and a U.S. Army mechanic named Cook who happened to be at the airport went to work on the tail-wheel. Replacement parts were lent by Air France. Engineers of the French military as well as the Royal Dutch Air Line helped to repair and fine-tune the plane, while airport personnel carried out the refueling.

 

The crew was able to eat, take a sponge-bath, and rest at intervals during the maintenance operation. Hughes, however, obsessed as always, remained visibly at work for most of the time, going over weather charts, receiving telegrams, and taking phone calls from New York. He did, however, eventually disappear inside an airplane hangar to eat a quick meal of onion soup and half a steak.

 

When the plane was airworthy once more and brought out of the maintenance hangar, it was protected by a phlanx of black-helmeted Mobile Guards carrying rifles. They surrounded and walked with the plane as it rolled from hangar to the head of the airstrip. It was 12:24 a.m. Greenwich time when the plane finally took off from the floodlit airfield at Paris. As at Floyd Bennett Field, the heavy Super Electra rose only slowly off the airstrip, but Hughes, masterful pilot, was able to gain altitude and recapture the favorable tail winds which would speed him on in the direction of the Soviet Union.[32]

 

Leaving Paris, the Super Electra encountered poor weather so thick that Hughes turned off the lights and used the cockpit instrumentation to blind-fly the way forward. At one point Hughes brought the plane up to 16,000 feet, requiring the use of oxygen. Ice began forming on the wings, which didn't have de-icers. In a two-way broadcast with NBC, Hughes said, "We have flown blind from the moment we left Le Bourget. . . . We are using our oxygen supply very sparingly as the supply is limited."[33]

 

Hughes, travelling between Paris and Moscow, showed great panache by flying over Nazi Germany. From the first, Adolf Hitler had been wary of Hughes' flight, demanding that if Hughes flew over Germany he had to do so at the highest altitude possible. Hitler was paranoid that Hughes might take the occasion to take surveillance photographs of Germany's military build-up. When the Super Electra entered Nazi airspace, Luftwaffe war planes ascended to surround and escort Hughes' plane along a route selected for him by the German government.[34] Hughes was constrained to fly at around 12,000 feet for the duration of his progress over Hitler's domain. Though intimidating, Germany proved to be helpful; for five-and-a-half hours the German Broadcasting System relayed communications to Hughes, including weather reports, via four short-wave stations.[35]

 

The Super Electra would enjoy good weather from Berlin onward. Halfway to Moscow, Richard Stoddart reported in a short-wave broadcast subsequently aired over America's radio networks, that "We have just come through very heavy rain and icy conditions," he said, adding that their plan was to fly 200 miles an hour at 13,000 feet.[36]  Hughes was able to take a two-hour cat nap during the second half of the Paris-Moscow leg.

 

The radio equipment on the Super Electra and the international communications network that the Hughes team had organized were the most sophisticated and elaborate ever used on an airplane flight up to that time. Onboard the Super Electra, three two-way radios allowed Hughes to remain in contact with land throughout the duration of the flight. The call letters for the plane's standard radio was KHBRC. Hughes' navigators could pinpoint the plane's location at any time by using the data from special signals broadcast from radio stations around the world at regular intervals. There was a special radio, a never-before-used set only ten inches square built by the Hughes Tool Company; replete with dry-cell batteries offering four hours' reserve power, it was waterproof in case of emergency. The Federal Communications Commission allowed Hughes to use the call letters KHRH for the special radio, which was powerful enough to be able to communicate with flight headquarters no matter the location of the plane during the flight. Hughes could transmit messages in 17 different wave lengths and maintained 30 radio channels for emergencies alone.[37]

 

Hughes' flight headquarters were located in a room in the Business Systems Building at the New York World's Fair site. The Trylon, a 700-foot obelisk and one of the centerpieces of the World's Fair, doubled as an antenna for the time being. Four radiomen, head-sets affixed to their heads, remained in constant contact with Hughes and his crew, relaying weather information coming in from around the world and analyzed by the on-site five-man meteorlogical team. Heading the team of radiomen was Charles Perrine. W.C. Rockefeller headed the meteorological crew. Two other high-level Hughesmen monitoring the flight every step of the way were Glenn Odekirk and Albert I. Lodwick.

 

The flight operations room served as the hub of a global weather communications network. Stations in London, Amsterdam, Paris, Germany, and Soviet Russia remained on duty to receive and relay communications to-and-from the Hughes plane. Hughes' continous international weather forecasting center was a milestone in aviation, an early progenitor of the Flight Advisory Weather Service (FAWS) and the Enroute Flight Advisory Service (EFAS), both of the National Weather Service.

 

The Hughes flight was shaping up as the main news story across America, and turned out to be one of the major media events of the year. The three major radio networks—NBC, CBS, and Mutual—were continuously supplied with programs and comments direct from the Super Electra, and aired news of the flight whenever it arrived, as well as at hourly intervals.[38] Newspapers across the country printed up-to-the-moment Hughes news on its front pages for the duration of the flight. The New York Times would print upwards of three dozen stories on Hughes' round-the-world venture in July.

 

Howard Hughes was a clean-cut, if unlikely, media hero. He was described by the New York Times as "slightly deaf, extremely nervous and an indifferent dresser" and "one of America's most unprepossessing millionaires".[39] In appearance the 32 year old was tall, lanky, slightly stooped, shy in manner, reticent in speech; he was a non-smoker and less-than-moderate drinker; remote in comportment. But the life he was leading looked exciting and romantic, fit for an American fairy tale: Hollywood mogul; multimillionaire manufacturer; handsome heartthrob; conqueror of the heavens. The heroism in him was his courage, intelligence, vision, resolve, and independence. Through his aviation achievements in the 1930s he had proven himself to be much more than a "playboy pilot", a multimillionaire "dabbling" in an aviation hobby—Hughes was a serious contributor to the advancement of world aviation. The New Republic extolled Hughes' pioneering spirit, which proved that Hughes had "not allowed himself to be spoiled by inherited wealth."[40] Hughes' multifacted character contributed to his immense public appeal. Bartlett and Steele recalled the ambiguity of Hughes' character at the time:

 

Was he movie producer or pilot, aircraft designer or playboy, shrewd capitalist or lucky heir? He defied categorization. Whatever he was, Hughes was leading a highly individualistic life.[41]

 

The NBC, CBS, and Mutual radio networks relayed the news that Hughes landed at the Moscow Central Airport in Moscow at 11:15 a.m. Tuesday (4:15 a.m. New York time).[42] Hughes had flown from Paris to Moscow in 7 hours 51 minutes. Actual flying time between New York and Moscow was 24 hours, 26 minutes.

 

Emerging from the plane, Hughes announced, "Please refuel as quickly as possible because we would like to leave in twenty minutes."[43] Hughes and crew were greeted by Alexander C. Kirk, the United States Chargé d'Affaires, and other members of the embassy staff; as well as a number of Soviet officials, including the vice commander of the Soviet civil air fleet; and some famous Soviet fliers. The Soviets took photographs and marvelled at the plane. The crowd of spectators, however, was small. While the airplane was being refueled by the airport's ground crew, Hughes and his crew ate breakfast in an airport building. For their American guests the Soviets had provided such American fare as Kellogg's Corn Flakes, but Hughes requested to make do with a typical Russian breakfast, which included black bread. During the layover, Hughes made a radio broadcast for the United States and signed his name to a series of postcards to be sent back to America. He also delivered a letter from Constantine A. Oumansky, Soviet Chargé d'Affaires in Washington, to Alexander A. Tryoanovsky, Soviet Ambassador to the United States, at the time on leave in his native country. The personal letter contained clippings from American newspapers regarding the recent Major League Baseball All-Star game (July 6, 1938) and the Joe Louis-Max Schmeling heavyweight boxing title rematch (June 22, 1938).

 

The Super Electra remained grounded at Moscow for 2¼ hours. The Soviets supplied Hughes with up-to-the-minute weather charts for upcoming points along the route. The crew accepted a case of mineral water but had to refuse a gift of caviar because, as one member of the crew said, "every pound counts". When Hughes took his leave of the Russians and turned away toward his plane, the millionaire revealed a patch on the seat of his trousers, which amused the Russians very much.

 

Hughes started up the engines and taxied the Super Electra up and down the different runways for fifteen minutes until he decided on one. The crowd of onlookers shouted variations of "good luck" as the silver plane lifted into the air and flew off in the direction of the rising sun.[44]

 

7 hours and 30 minutes after taking off from Moscow, the Super Electra landed 1,380 miles away on a grass landing strip at the industrial city of Omsk in southwest Siberia. Between Moscow and Omsk Hughes had remained in constant radio contact with the ground as a result of what the New York Times described as the "unprecedented organization" of Soviet radio stations along the route, which broadcast special music at regular intervals to enable the plane to use its radio compass to maintain proper navigation. Hughes was in voice contact with the Soviets as well. A special code for communication between the English-speaking crew and the Russian-speaking communication stations had been established well in advance of the flight, so native languages wouldn't matter in receiving weather information. An example of the code used: "15-BU-S-20-18-N-E."—"Ceiling, 150 meters, broken clouds and showers; visibility 20 kilometers; wind velocity 18 kilometers; wind from northeast."[45]

 

Upon landing at the Omsk Airfield, which Edward Lund described as "looking like a cow pasture", Hughes asked the Soviet mechanics to immediately began refueling the plane. It turned out that Hughes and crew had to mix some of their own supply of ethyl with low-test gasoline, the only kind available to them at Omsk, in order to make fuel appropriate for their plane's engines. As at Moscow, the Soviets supplied Hughes with the most recent weather forecasts. After a 4½ hour layover, the Super Electra took once more to the air at 4:37 a.m. Wednesday (6:37 p.m. Tuesday NY time).[46]

 

Hughes and his four man crew were now flying over some of the most forbidding topography on earth—the taiga forests and flat, barren tundras of the subarctic zone. This was the bleak outer reaches of the inhabited earth. Siberia contained well less than one person per square mile. Far below them, vast raindeer herds would have been moving across the thousands of miles of sparsely inhabited space.

 

Hughes flew the 2,177 miles to the next stop at an average cruising speed of 210 mph at 11,600 feet above the plains, forests, and mountains of the Russian landscape. The crew took cat-naps in turn on a sheet of canvas spread across the cabin floor.[47] The heroic fliers in their redoubtable Lockheed Model 14-N2 landed at the city of Yakutsk on the Lena River in eastern Siberia at 12:08 p.m. (5:08 a.m. in New York). The Omsk-Yakutsk leg had taken them 10 hours and 31 minutes.[48] Back in 1933 the lowest temperature for an inhabited area was recorded in this region: -68°C (-90°F).[49] Yakutsk had been a place of exile for Russian revolutionaries for more than two hundred years. In 1938, there were a series of notorious Gulags on the outskirts of the city. Harry Connor described the place as "having an air of unreality about it, like we'd left the Earth and were upon some remote outpost in the universe."[50] Hughes and crew remained grounded at the edge of the world for three hours. Hughes will later tell newsmen that there had been only one person at Yakutsk who spoke English, a schoolteacher. He had to draw a picture to request airplane fuel.[51]

 

Back at Fenwick in the American Northeast, Katharine Hepburn had been paying close attention to Hughes' flight every step of the way with a radio and a map.[52] Soon after the flight had begun he had sent her a cable, "See you in three days." Flying over the Atlantic, he sent her: "All is fine." Later, "The Irish coast is breathtaking in all its beauty. Will contact you from Paris." All of the above signed off with "Love, Howard." Soon after he landed in Yakutsk, she received: "Still safe, HH."[53]

 

Taking off at 3:01 p.m. and heading eastward to Alaska, ahead of them loomed the huge jagged mountains of the Kolymsk region. Containing peaks over 9,000 feet high, it was an inhospitable granite wasteland laden with permanent glaciers brooding over the remote and severe regions below. Yet, "The prettiest sight we saw was on the takeoff from Yakutsk to Alaska," Stoddart later recalled, "when we saw the sun and the moon at the same time."[54]

 

Not long outside Yakutsk, the New York World's Fair 1939 only just crested the Siberian Mountains. It turned out that the Soviet maps the fliers had been reading had measured the height of the mountain chain in meters instead of feet, a fact which they came aware of with increasing surprise. Hughes had to crank the Super Electra into a sudden heartstopping ascent. If visibility had been low just then, the plane would have slammed into the side of the 9,700-foot granite range and that would have been the premature end of the Howard Hughes story. Edward Lund later called this moment the most thrilling part of his journey. "I could see every rock up close," Richard Stoddard recalled. They had cleared the crest by some 25 feet. A day later, a low-key Hughes will tell newsmen, "It was a good thing I didn't try to fly out of Yakutsk at night."[55]

 

Sigismund Levanevsky, a Russian flyer, had once said that the area around Yakutsk was rife with fog and high winds, making the region "the most dangerous flying country he had ever struck".[56] Yet, after passing over the mountains, the Super Electra encountered little difficulty as it sped eastward, chasing the rising sun, toward the Bering Strait and the American state of Alaska. The Hughes crew commented that the weather on this fourth leg of the flight was "middling-to-fair".[57]

 

Hughes was scrupulous in giving thanks to cooperative countries. Over the radio, he thanked Paris when he left Paris. Leaving German airspace, he thanked the Germans. Leaving Russia, he thanked the Soviets.

 

Just before noon on what the Hughes crew identified as Thursday, July 14, the Super Electra passed over the Bering Sea and in the process crossed the International Date Line. Just like that the fliers were pushed back to a little before noon on Wednesday again.[58]

 

12 hours and 17 minutes after taking off from Yakutsk, having covered 2,456 miles, the Super Electra was back on American soil in Fairbanks, Alaska at 2:18 p.m. (8:18 p.m. New York time) on July 13. The crowd of several thousand spectators having waited hours for the privilege cheered Hughes and the crew as they emerged onto the tarmac to direct the refueling operations.[59] The New York Times described Hughes as "in a smiling mood" at the "absence of autograph seekers."[60] While Hughes would be going in and out of his plane, he stopped more than once to suffer his photograph being taken. Interviewed for American radio broadcast, Stoddart said that the crew was "a little tired, but we were pretty comfortable on the entire trip." [61] Stoddart went on to explain that the runway at Fairbanks was only 2,800 feet, necessitating the removal of certain of the Super Electra's load, including the life raft and other survival gear now unnecessary since there was no more ocean to cross. John Keats in Howard Hughes detailed, "A sack of pingpong balls was thrown out of the baggage compartment and broke open on striking the runway. For a moment all work stopped as Fairbanks natives scrambled after little white bouncing souvenirs."[62] After Hughes and his crew carried out a final inspection of the exterior of the plane, they took off into the darkness, heading southeastward en route to Minneapolis, Minnesota. The layover at Fairbanks had lasted only 1 hour and 18 minutes, the shortest, most efficient stop yet.

 

One of the radio antennas (KHRH) was lost upon taking off from Fairbanks. In what is evidently pure coincidence, fluky communications problems plagued most of Hughes' record-breaking flights in the 1930s. Hughes suffered either a malfunctioning radio or broken antenna during his first coast-to-coast flight; his Miami to New York flight; his Chicago to Los Angeles flight; and now not once but twice during his round-the-world flight. With KHRH down, Hughes would be unable to send messages directly to his communications center at Flushing Meadows for much of the latter stage of the flight.[63] During this second to last leg, the Fairbanks to Minneapolis route, which was a tremendous 2,483 miles, much of it over the sparsely populated forests of Canada, airfields in both Winnepeg and Edmonton remained on alert and kept a constant watch for Hughes' plane.[64]

 

The plane encountered lightning and rain while flying over the Canadian Rockies. During this leg the crew's meal consisted of canned fruit.[65] Every so often Hughes jotted down notes and figures in his flight log, which would eventually come to forty pages.[66]

 

According to the calendar, the Hughes flight would comprise four days. But Hughes and crew saw the sun rise not four but five times during the flight—over the Atlantic ocean; between Paris and Moscow; between Omsk and Yatutsk; between Yakutsk and Fairbanks; and between Fairbanks and Minneapolis. Flying in the direction that the earth was turning, Hughes had outdistanced the planet by a complete lap. According to a bulletin by the National Geographic Society issued on July 14, "Another interesting quirk in regard to time as it affected the Hughes flight is that their five 'sun days' each had an average of only about 19 hours."[67]

 

Minneapolis and a cheering crowd of well-wishers were reached in the early morning of July 14 after a flight leg of 12 hours and 2 minutes, but Hughes didn't stay on the ground long. Just 34 minutes after arriving, they were off again. Excitement was mounting as the plane streaked through American airspace. The Hughes flight dominated radio news broadcasts nationwide by the hour. Ace reporter Walter Winchell commented, "Hughes-mania is sweeping the country."[68] "A Great Welcome Waits Hughes Here", blazoned a headline in that morning's New York Times, which had been printing a running log of the flight every step of the way. New York's City Hall was busy organizing a grand celebration and Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia was drafting an address of welcome. Many thousands of persons hoping to witness Hughes' arrival began assembling at Floyd Bennett Field soon after sunrise on the 14th. The police department, preparing for the largest crowd ever to assemble at the airfield, assigned no less than 1,100 policemen to be present there; 35 police motorcycles were arranged to surround Hughes' plane to protect it from an onrush of spectators. An iron fence was erected to keep the public back from the landing strip, along with rope cordons and wire barricades. Two large stands were set up, one for photographers, the other, under a tent, for journalists. The mediamen were arranging a forest of microphones at the airfield. More than 350 radio stations across America were expected to receive a live feed of Hughes' return. It was, the Times reported, "the most elaborate and extensive radio set-up ever assembled to broadcast the welcome given an arriving personage." [69] In fact, by this time the Hughes flight was the most prominent international news story in the media worldwide.[70]

 

Twenty-five thousand spectators were waiting under an overcast sky at Floyd Bennett Airfield in Brooklyn on the afternoon of July 14. Assembled notables included Mayor La Guardia and Major General Oscar W. Westover, Chief of the Army Air Corps. Odekirk, Lodwick, Rockefeller, Perrine, and their assistants at the flight operations center were ready to celebrate.

 

From out of the clouds in the west the Hughes plane swooped into visibility around 2:30 p.m. The tremendous crowd went wild with adulation. People clapped, cheered, shouted, honked automobile horns. Caught up in the excitement, policemen blew their traffic whistles and fire trucks set their sirens wailing. Hughes circled the airfield once, surveying the massive assembly awaiting him, then came in for a landing.

 

The wheels of the Super Electra touched down on the tarmac at 2:37 p.m. While Hughes applied the brakes as the plane shot down the runway, four automobiles gave chase, each with a cameraman and movie camera mounted atop the roof. A new level of excitement overcame the assembled crowd which would not be held in check. Caught up in the thrill of it all, the police cordon decided to remove the barricades and clear a path to the airstrip so the spectators could get closer to the Hughes plane, which looked as good as new. Hughes reduced the speed of the Super Electra to a slow roll and was forced to taxi the plane extremely carefully through the enthusiastic crush of bodies, heading slowly, foot by foot, toward the administration building.

 

The Lockheed Super Electra had set the new world speed record for an around-the-world flight: 3 days, 19 hours, 8 minutes, and 10 seconds.[71] Hughes' plane, the New York World's Fair 1939, had averaged 206 miles an hour over the 14,824 mile flight. Howard Hughes, at the age of 32, had won the greatest of all contemporary aviation records!

 

When Hughes finally emerged from the Super Electra, the crowd's ardor reached a new intensity and became, in the words of the New York Times, "a mob. . . . Clothes were torn and feet were stepped on . . . all in good-natured enthusiasm." The array of photographers' flash bulbs looked like a mini-lightning storm. The multitude of well-wishers were overcome with happy hysteria and swarmed enthusiastically around the plane. Amid the crowd, Miss Elinor Hoaglund, 19 years old, who was engaged to crewmember Edward Lund, collapsed from the excitement.[72]

 

While his crewmen were happily reunited with their thrilled families, no one close to Hughes personally was there to greet him upon arrival. Microphones were shoved in his face. "All I can say," Hughes announced to the newsmen jostling around him, "is that this crowd has frightened me more than anything in the last three days."[73]

 

Not only were hundreds of American stations across the country broadcasting live news of Hughes' arrival, but the Columbia Broadcasting Company transmitted programming to Europe, while the National Broadcasting Company relayed the broadcast to South America.[74]

 

Hughes, unshaven in his soiled and wrinkled gray suit, proceeded slowly through the thick press of spectators—amid the cacophony someone screeched, "Grab his hat off!"—and made his way to a greeter's stand where he was welcomed by Mayor La Guardia and Grover A. Whalen, the World's Fair President. "Seven million New Yorkers offer their congratulations for the greatest record established in the history of aviation," said Mayor La Guardia. "Welcome home!"[75] But Hughes was not much in a party mood. He was exhausted. Between July 8 and July 14 he had had only "three or four hours of sleep" in total, he later told newsmen. He was meant to proceed to the press tent, but, amid what the Times described as "a bedlam of noise and confusion", decided to jump into a waiting motorcar and flee the scene with the Mayor and Grover Whalen.[76] Hughes spent only a little more than twenty minutes with the welcoming crowd.

 

A police motorcade cleared the way along Flatbush Avenue and across the Manhattan bridge as Hughes was driven to Whalen's home at 48 Washington Mews. There, while he sat relaxed in an overstuffed chair, he willingly gave the press the interview that he'd dodged at the airport. Hughes praised the achievement of Wiley Post's solo round-the-world jaunt of 1933. "Imagine flying that route himself!" Hughes said. "It was beyond comprehension." During the hour-long interview, Hughes extolled his four man crew, describing them as "the ablest assistants a man could have."[77]

 

*

 

While Hughes, his crewmembers and their wives, World's Fair officials, and journalists celebrated the aviation triumph inside Grover Whalen's home, a crowd of several hundred spectators and well-wishers gathered outside the building. Two of the wives had remembered to bring fresh shirts for their husbands; a Chinese house servant rushed away to return with new clothes for Hughes (including a white shirt, size 15½). The fliers washed up then shared a Scotch-and-soda together. When it was time for Whalen's guests to depart via the front door, Hughes surreptitiously left the building via a back exit and took a taxi to the distinguished Drake Hotel on Park Avenue, where he managed to make an inconspicuous entrance.

 

In the evening, he hailed a cab and was driven to Katharine Hepburn's town house at nearby Turtle Bay (an enclave of brownstone townhouses) where he discovered a crowd of mediamen and fans had gathered. Instead of stopping, he decided to return to the Drake, where he phoned her then went to bed.[78]
#9
Paul Thomas Anderson / Re: Magnolia discussion
Last post by wilberfan - February 05, 2023, 06:04:07 PM
"This actually happened - Pookie was my girlfriend Jovanka's cat, and when I was on the phone with PTA, Pookie started having seizures. (But did not die.)" -- Brian Kehew

#10
Paul Thomas Anderson / Re: Boogie Nights 20th Anniver...
Last post by wilberfan - February 04, 2023, 11:08:41 AM

As The World's (Self-Appointed) expert on BOOGIE NIGHTS locations, this guy is good.  One of the best of these I've seen. (I think he's incorrect about Reed's magic club, tho.)