In the first of several profiles, Business Management US looks at some of America's great business moguls. First up, Howard Hughes.
Howard Robard Hughes Jr. may be best known for his aviation exploits including designing the Spruce Goose, but he was also an engineer, industrialist and philanthropist. In fact, due to his many talents he soon became one of the world's wealthiest people.
Hughes was already wealthy due to his father Howard Robard Hughes patenting a revolutionary 'two-cone rotary' drill in 1908, that could penetrate medium and hard rock with ten times the speed of any former bit. He then made his fortune in revolutionizing the oil drilling industry and establishing the Sharp-Hughes Tool Company with Walter Benona Sharp. Upon Sharp's death in 1912, Hughes took full control of the company, but upon his own death in 1924, young Howard Hughes took over the company, buying out his uncle Rupert Hughes who supervised business interests.
Financially secure, Hughes moved to Hollywood where he became a successful producer and director, producing the Oscar winning Two Arabian Nights and the groundbreaking Hell's Angels, that utilised 87 aircraft to recreate World War I's stunning aerial battles.
It was during the production of Hell's Angels that he developed his legendary interest in aviation and in 1932 he formed the Hughes Aircraft Company. In 1934, Hughes built and personally test-piloted the world's most advanced plane, the H-1 and on September 13 1935, he set a new speed record, taking the plane to 352 mph.
During World War II, Hughes was awarded two contracts to build military aircraft. These two revolutionary planes were a giant plywood cargo seaplane that could carry thirty-five tons of men and weapons (HK-1), and a very fast photo-reconnaissance aircraft (F-11).
His engineering skills also helped him in Hollywood, when he famously designed and constructed a underwire bra for the buxom actress Jane Russell, who stared in his film, The Outlaw.
While Hughes' life reads like a Hollywood film (and it is - The Aviator) with tales of numerous affairs, escaping a manslaughter charge when he killed a pedestrian while driving and rumours of 'softening up' government officials with cash and parties, he is still a legendary figure in American business.
Taking over and starting numerous companies such as Air West, Hughes had a massive empire and would not even be afraid of uprooting it from California to Nevada in order to save on taxes.
However despite his business acumen, it is always the rumours of his personal life that will overshadow the man's legacy; be it his relationships with numerous starlets in his Hollywood years, his political and military scandals (such as $205,000 loan to Richard Nixon's brothers) or his eccentric behavior and reclusive lifestyle in later life.
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