Howard Hughes' Top Ten
Wealthy beyond measure and weird beyond belief, Howard Hughes was an aerospace leviathan.
- By Preston Lerner
- Air & Space magazine, November 2004
Chas. E. Bulloch/NASM (SI Neg. #81-16961)
(Page 5 of 5)
Later, a privately owned Sikorsky S-38 reproduction acted as Hughes' first amphibian, and a Lockheed Super Constellation flew in from the Airline History Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, to serve as the template for a computer-generated sequence showing dozens of Constellations on an airport ramp.
Meanwhile, special affects supervisor Bruce Steinheimer oversaw the construction of full-scale mockups of the Racer, the XF-11, and the H-4. (There was also a mockup of the Flying Boat's flight deck) The back half of a Vultee BT-13 Valiant was fashioned to look like the Racer so Leonardo DiCaprio could be filmed in the rear cockpit while Hosking flew from the forward cockpit.
For the XF-11, model makers built a bizarre contraption consisting of a full-scale canopy nestled between stunted wings that look life-size when filmed through a forced-perspective camera. "I fought long and hard against it because I didn't think it would look realistic," Hosking says. "But by golly, I had to eat my words."
In addition, Miramax built remote-controlled scale models of all three airplanes. For what he believes to be the first time ever, Hosking filmed them from a helicopter while he flew close formation with the models, which were controlled by RC pilots. "It was a little tricky," he admits. "But in effect, I was the wingman, so it was up to me to keep separation."
Hosking tried to minimize the computer-generated stuff and the use of blue-screen technology--the modern version of the old-timey movie technique in which the driver saws at the steering wheel while the background dances around behind him. So how did he crash the XF-11?
He laughs. "I left that up to the computer guys."