The Nation: The women in the Legend

Women were second only to planes in Hughes' affections and, until the last years of his life, he changed them as frequently. He took an engineer's interest in their anatomy, handled them with dexterity but not much warmth. The affair could come to a smooth ending or a crash landing. However Hughes made his exit, his women—out of either gratitude or fear—rarely said a word about him. They were all part of the legend, and part of the reason that America was fascinated with him.

Hughes married twice. In 1925, at 19, he wed Ella Rice, a comely home-town girl from a...

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