When looking back at the life of Hughes, it is easy to become lost in a mire of recollections, rumours, accusations, Leo DeCaprio - and of course that Simpsons episode..
For the World War One based Hell’s Angels, Hughes - aged just 23 - basically assembled the world’s largest private air force - approximately ninety aircraft - at a cost of around $600,000
For the scene in which the Gotha bomber (above) was shot down, Hughes insisted that the aircraft be put into a spin - with the aircrew bailing out if necessary. Daredevil pilot Al Wilson accepted, for the sum of $10,000. A mechanic named Phil Jones volunteered to be his assistant, releasing black smoke to simulate the aircraft being hit by gunfire. Jones lost his life when the aircraft fell to earth during the filming of the scene.
Two other stunt pilots died whilst involved with the movie, including Al Johnson of the legendary 13 Black Cats. Hughes himself was injured crashing a plane (allegedly whilst trying to micro-manage his stunt pilots in the air)
Annoyingly, the advent of the talking picture during production meant that Hughes had to reshoot large sections of the film with dialogue - and cast the largely unknown Jean Harlow to replace the existing female lead.
The film ended up costing Hughes a record $4 million to make. Despite a spectacular premiere and warm reviews, it is believed that the movie takings did not recoup the costs for at least a couple of decades..