A seaplane that once belonged to Houston-born entrepreneur and daredevil pilot Howard Hughes has been sold. The plane had spent the last several years in a hangar in Brazoria County.
The Sikorsky S-43 was purchased by Kermit Weeks, an aircraft collector who owns Fantasy of Flight, an aviation attraction just outside Disney World.
Weeks plans to disassemble the plane in Angleton and have it trucked to Orlando, Florida, where it will be made airworthy once again. He is thrilled to own a piece of Howard Hughes' history.
"This airplane, he got a chance to fly a lot of his starlet girlfriends around in," Weeks said. "(It) was used as a test bed for the Hughes Hercules HK-1, which people mainly know as the Spruce Goose."
The so-called Spruce Goose was the largest seaplane in history, constructed mostly out of wood due to wartime metal shortages.
Critics said the massive aircraft would never fly. But Hughes piloted its huge hull out of the water – briefly – in 1947.
Kermit Weeks had wanted to buy the Sikorsky S-43, which was Hughes' personal plane, for years.
He says Howard Hughes himself once appeared to him in a dream, saying he would do what he could to assist Weeks.
"Lo and behold, he said he was going to help me get the airplane."
Flash forward a few years: the Sikorsky's owner had passed away and his estate was eager to sell.
Weeks won't disclose the purchase price. But he has little doubt Howard Hughes was true to his word.
"Here I am, standing here in front of Howard Hughes' S-43," Kermit Weeks chuckled. "So all I can say is, thank you Howard!"
Hughes died a reclusive billionaire in 1976. He is buried in a cemetery outside downtown Houston.
Weeks hopes to have the seaplane fully restored and displayed at Fantasy of Flight by the end of the year.
For more information on Fantasy of Flight, click here: