American businessman, financier, and aircraft manufacturer Howard Hughes (1905-1976) designed and built the all-wood H-4 Hercules flying boat, nicknamed the Spruce Goose. The aircraft had the greatest wingspan ever built and was powered by eight engines. It was only flown once, covering a distance of less than one mile at Los Angeles harbor in California on November 2, 1947. It rose only 33 feet (10.6 meters) above the surface of the water.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941, and the subsequent entry of the United States into World War II (1939-45), the U.S. government decided it needed a large, cargo-carrying airplane to ferry supplies to the front. The plane had to be made from wood, in order to save materials critical to the war effort.