Skip to main content

Search the Special Collections and Archives Portal

Hughes Aircraft Company

After purchasing an H-1 racer plane, Howard Hughes Jr. established the Hughes Aircraft Company under the umbrella of his Hughes Tool Company, Inc. The company won several government contracts in 1936 and 1937, which they ultimately lost. However, the company grew rapidly and moved to Culver City, California in 1941. Hughes won a contract to create the HK-1, or as its skeptics called it, the Spruce Goose. Ultimately, the HK-1 only flew once, for a distance of one mile. Hughes Aircraft Company diversified into guided missile and radio technologies throughout the late 1940s and 1950s, becoming the sole producer of the United States Air Force’s interceptor control systems. At its height, the Hughes Aircraft Company was the tenth leading defense contractor in the United States, as well as the largest manufacturing employee in the state of California. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute assumed control of the Hughes Aircraft Company’s assets, and sold it to General Motors in 1985 for $5.2 billion dollars.


Cold War: Culver City Project. “Hughes Aircraft Company.” The Wende Museum. 2020. Accessed February 01, 2021.