In the midst of one of his wrangles with the Senate War Investigating subcommittee last summer, Howard Hughes made a characteristically extravagant gesture. He vowed that he would exile himself from the U.S. if his mammoth Hercules flying boat failed to fly. The world's biggest plane, which had cost the Government $18 million (and Hughes $7 million of his own), was one of the targets of the committee's probe (TIME, Aug. 11) into the affairs of the man-of-many-businesses. But Hughes had no intention of exiling himself. Early last August, a crew of 100 men began working round-the-clock shifts, seven...

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