The Edward C. Light Schematic Drawings of the Hughes H-4 Hercules "Spruce Goose" Seaplane consists of blueline print reproductions of sheets created between 1941 and 1950 containing schematic engineering design drawings pertaining to the aircraft's rudder and flight control system assembly and installation. Types of drawings include full body perspective diagrams, structural sections, elevations, and plans.
Finding Aid PDF
Scope and Contents Note
The Edward C. Light Schematic Drawings of the Hughes H-4 Hercules "Spruce Goose" Seaplane consists of blueline print reproductions of seventeen sheets created between 1941 and 1950. These schematic engineering design drawings pertain to the Spruce Goose’s rudder and flight control system assembly and installation. Types of drawings include full body perspective diagrams, structural sections, elevations, and plans.
The drawings document the Spruce Goose’s pioneering “artificial feel system” in the control yoke for the ailerons, flaps, elevators, and rudder. Because of its enormous size, Hughes and his engineers developed an innovative hydraulic system to move the plane’s control surfaces. A purely mechanical system would have required the combined strength of over 150 people to physically turn the controls. The artificial feel system enabled a pilot to control the plane and give him the sense that he was flying a smaller aircraft.
American Society of Mechanical Engineers, “Howard Hughes’ Flying Boat ‘Spruce Goose’.” July 20, 2002. https://www.asme.org/wwwasmeorg/media/ResourceFiles/AboutASME/Who%20We%20Are/Engineering%20History/Landmarks/219-Howard-Hughes-Flying-Boat-HK-1.pdf
Collection is open for research.
Materials in this collection may be protected by copyrights and other rights. See Reproductions and Use on the UNLV Special Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permissions to publish.
Materials remain as they were received.
Biographical / Historical Note
Edward C. Light was an aeronautical engineer at the Hughes Aircraft Company (HAC) where he was responsible for supervising the design of aircraft control systems between 1942 and 1946. During this period, he worked on the Hughes H-4 Hercules, also known as the "flying boat" or the "Spruce Goose." As of March 2017, the plane has the longest wingspan of any flight-capable aircraft. Later in his career, he returned to HAC in 1954-1955 as a research physicist working on the Falcon Guidance System.
In addition to working at HAC, Light worked as an engineer at the Glenn L. Martin Company (1938-1942), as an engineer (1946-1953) and as vice president (1955-1958) at the Summers Gyroscope Company, and as a research associate for the General Motors Research Space Group (1958-1960). He held several positions at Nortronics and the Northrop Space Laboratories between 1960 and 1977, including as an associate director of the Apollo tasks and as a director of research and development for tactical avionics. Light’s area of expertise included aircraft instruments, stability and control of systems, instrument landing systems, autopilot design, radio and inertial navigation, electro-optical sensing systems, and guidance and control of missiles.
Light was born in 1917 in Liberal, Kansas, and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1940 with a B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering. He was married four times and had seven children: Joanne, Edward, Susan, Greg, Todd, Michelle, and Brian. Light moved to Las Vegas, Nevada in 1975, and lived there until his death in 1992.
Edward C. Light Schematic Drawings of the Hughes H-4 Hercules "Spruce Goose" Seaplane, 1941-1950. MS-00920. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.
Materials were donated by Michelle and Brian Light in 2005; accession number 2019-021.
In 2019, as part of an archival backlog elimination project, Michelle Light wrote the finding aid description and Jimmy Chang rehoused and arranged the materials and entered the data into ArchivesSpace.