It was the aircraft that nearly did it for Howard Hughes, and it was embroiled in a corruption scandal, but does his XF-11 deserve a better reputation?


The second Hughes XF-11 in flight off the coast of California during a sortie from Eglin Field. VIA GERALD H. BALZER

For William L. Durkin, a 30-year-old US Marine Corps master technical sergeant stationed at El Toro, California, 7 July 1946 had been a Sunday like many others. Spending it off-duty, he’d been visiting a girlfriend, Betty Gettle, in Beverly Hills. He was to end up as witness to an aircraft accident that attracted more attention than most — and as rescuer to one of the world’s most famous figures.

Become a Premium Member to Read More

This is a premium article and requires an active Key.Aero subscription to view. You can also access it if you’re subscribed to one of our Key Publishing magazines.

I’m an existing member, sign me in!

I don’t have a subscription…

Why not join our community of aviation enthusiasts? Pick one of our introductory offers and access a wealth of world-class aviation content.