A maiden flight ended as its only flight with none other than Howard Hughes at the controls. The largest aircraft ever built was a massive wooden hulk of laminated birch and spruce to be later nicknamed the "Spruce Goose" but also known as the Hercules. It's wingspan was longer than a football field designed to carry more than 700 men to battle and powered by eight giant propeller engines. You may be wondering why the mention of the word battle?The single 400,000-pound H-4 Hercules flying boat, built by the Hughes Aircraft Co., was the largest flying boat ever built with the widest wingspan. It was built after a U.S. government request in 1942 for a cargo and troop carrier that would not be susceptible to Axis submarines and not use critical wartime materials by substituting wood for metal in its construction. Source: History
Howard Hughes was personally instrumental in the testing of cutting-edge aircraft of his own design. In 1932, he founded Hughes Aircraft Company. The U.S. government commissioned Hughes Aircraft to build a large 'flying boat' capable of carrying men and materials across the ocean as a way to avoid threats from enemy submarines. The year was 1941 following the U.S. entrance into World War II. The aircraft never saw war, never transported soldiers to or from battle. Unfortunately, its production took so long the war had ended by the time of its completion in 1946.
However, there was a maiden flight...
On November 2, 1947, Hughes obliged, taking the H-4 prototype out into Long Beach Harbor, CA for an unannounced flight test. Thousands of onlookers had come to watch the aircraft taxi on the water and were surprised when Hughes lifted his wooden behemoth 70 feet above the water and flew for a mile before landing. Source: History.com
Interior designed to carry 700 passengers
Although the actual footage is of the November 2, 1947, Hughes-piloted, one time only flight of the "Spruce Goose," this newsreel is from 1962. It seems to me it's about how the government hoped to recoup the $18 million it sunk into the project. Source: Hughes H-4 "Hercules"
"The Hercules was a monumental undertaking. It is the largest aircraft ever built...I put the sweat of my life into this thing." ~Howard Hughes