ON AUG. 6, 1947, IN THE FIRST of several such appearances, Howard Hughes told an emotion-charged and sometimes heated US Senate hearing that he had put the sweat of his life and his reputation into his H4 Hercules "Spruce Goose" and if it was a failure he would leave the country and never return. During the hearings, which lasted several months, Hughes snuck in the aircraft's one and only flight on Nov. 2, 1947--about three years after it was contracted to fly. While the 787 program cannot ...

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