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Howard Hughes: The UFO Link

There can be absolutely no doubt that one of the most enigmatic, mysterious and powerful figures of the 20th century was Howard Hughes. Born on Christmas Eve in 1905, in Humble, Texas, Hughes displayed a brilliant flair for aviation and new and novel aircraft designs – to the extent that in 1932 he created the Hughes Aircraft Company, which was noted for its work in the fields of aircraft, missiles, and NASA’s space-probes.

Despite his brilliance, Hughes was plagued by psychological conditions that blighted his life, including obsessive-compulsive disorder – something which played a major role in his descent into a definitive “reclusive eccentric” state. And then there were Hughes’ ties to the secret world of U.S. Intelligence and…the UFO phenomenon.

In 1977, an astonishing book, The Hughes Papers by Elaine Davenport, Paul Eddy and Mark Huwitz, was published, and disclosed a wealth of hitherto unknown material pertaining to Hughes, including his deep associations with none other than the CIA.

Moving on, there are a number of intriguing issues that link Hughes to the UFO subject. The earliest – and certainly the strangest – story suggesting a Hughes-Flying Saucer connection can be found in the FBI’s n0w-declassified files on UFOs, all of which are online at the Bureau’s website, The Vault. Contained within the approximately 1,700 pages of documentation is a very curious letter that was sent to the FBI’s Chicago office by a source unknown.

The letter is dated July 31, 1950 and reads as follows:

“Since we are on the brink of a third world conflict, the world is more air conscious than ever. Aviation in some phases is yet in its pioneering days. Much talk goes on about the flying saucers or discs. The saucer we speak about is not a military secret, and is not yet owned by the government. The flying saucer which was seen over south Chicago last April is a large fuel tank with crystal glass wings.”

The writer continued: “It has two large jet engines on both sides. It is radio controlled. It resembles a saucer very much when in flight. The wings cannot be seen on a clear day. This is so it is a most difficult target for anti aircraft gunners. The reason for the large flat gas or fuel tank is to give the ship a long range for atomic bombing.”

The letter then reveals something very illuminating (if true, of course): “The ship was financed by Howard Hughes, millionaire aviation enthusiast. It is now being tested by the Glen F. Martin Aircraft Co., makers of the Martin Marauder. The craft is only made for one way trips. It has a range of 4,000 miles, ceiling of 25,000 feet, and a speed of 750 miles per hour.”


The Bureau’s informant also noted: “So far only a few of these craft have been made, and they usually are pitched in the lake or ocean as they cannot be landed. They are merely to carry a bomb of high destruction to enemy country. They have no wheels, but small steel rails on the bottom from which they take off. All other mechanics can be explained in detail.”

And, in closing, the FBI’s source explained that: “The man who welded the ship says it is by far the best long range bombing instrument he has ever seen. The name of the ship is the ‘Danse Macabre.'”

Then there is the notable saga of Howard Hughes’ associations and friendship with one of the most well known of all the “Contactees” of the 1950s: George Van Tassel. Prior to becoming a major player in Ufology, Van Tassel spent time in the 1940s working for Hughes Aircraft. He did far more than that, however. While employed by Hughes Aircraft, Van Tassel acted in an assistance capacity to none other than Howard Hughes himself.

As a demonstration of the fact that Hughes and Van Tassel were good friends, on many occasions Hughes flew into the Giant Rock, California area, where Van Tassel held his near-legendary UFO conventions from the 1950s to the 1970s. The reason: to specifically to hang out with Van Tassel and his wife, Eva, and to indulge in the tasty pies that Mrs. Van Tassel made and which Hughes apparently loved!

Moving onto 1964, it’s time to look at a potential connection between Howard Hughes and the famous “UFO landing” at Socorro, New Mexico in April 1964. Rich Reynolds, a long-time, well-respected researcher of the UFO phenomenon, has suggested the possibility that the strange craft seen by police officer Lonnie Zamora on that fateful day in Socorro was not an alien spacecraft, after all.


In an article titled Howard Hughes: Socorro (and Roswell?), Reynolds says: “UFO buffs and investigators have overlooked the Hughes connection to U.S. military testings of prototypical space vehicles, one of which we contend is what Lonnie Zamora saw in Socorro in April 1964.” As Reynolds also notes, both Hughes’ Tool Company and Hughes Aircraft “were employed by the U.S. military to devise various space craft and satellite equipment, including lunar landing modules in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s.”

Howard Hughes died on April 5, 1976, while being flown to Houston, Texas, for emergency medical treatment. He was a shell of his former, handsome self. The man who dated numerous Hollywood actresses, including Olivia de Havilland and Ava Gardner, was down to less than 100 pounds in weight at the time of his death. His hair was long and straggly, and his arms were riddled with needle marks. Hardly the best way to make an exit.

Was Howard Hughes really plugged deep into the world of the UFO? Right now, we have a few strands, a couple of thought-provoking leads, a few pieces of documentation, and that’s it. But, where there’s smoke, there is very often fire, too. Methinks someone out there should take a closer look at Mr. Hughes and his UFO associations. The strangest of all aspects of the man’s life may still be waiting to be uncovered…

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  • Jerry Lentz
  • Judith Johnson

    I think it’s interesting that a lot of the big names in aviation have ties to UFO’s and UFO sightings. Octave Chanute was tied to several UFO sightings in the late 1890’s and financed many experimental aircraft by the Wright brothers and others.

  • J.Griffin

    Of course,
    his numerous serious head injuries
    (7 or more that I know of)
    did not help his mental state….

  • To make a plane out of wood is one thing. But GLASS?! I mean c’mon…

    And I’ve never taken Rich Reynolds’ theory very seriously. Even modern lander testing conducted today can’t have the damned things on air for more than a few seconds, yet we’re to believe Hughes’ lander was able to land in Socorro AND take off after bamboozling Zamora?

  • alanborky

    “To make a plane out of wood is one thing. But GLASS?!”

    ‘Crystal glass’ remember.

    I’m with you tho’ RPJanwinkle.

    Yet forget the aerodynamic difficulties. The idea o’ the glass presumably’s t’make the wings invisible but actu’ly they’d be incredibly dazzlingly reflective.

    There’s at least three ways t’read that letter tho’ i) it’s written by someone who read too many Wonder Woman comics as a kid ii) it’s written by someone with little or no engineerin’/physics knowledge who believed people really were seein’ flyin’ saucers but was conceptu’ly convinced flight was utterly impossible without wings iii) it was written by someone who’d somehow learnt o’ such an experimental aircraft but who took lit’rally the figurative description of an experimental *invisible* non-reflective translucent material as bein’ somewhat like ‘crystal glass’.

    Me own suspicion’s it’s got the ring o’ implanted material right down t’the overwhelmin’ compulsion t’communicate the information t’some figure or organization o’ authority before it’s too late.

    If that’s true god alone knows who’s behind such activity because it’s been goin’ on in various forms for thousands o’ years all the way through Homer primarily conducted by Athena not t’mention the Old Testament.

  • Lastsister

    Oh puhleze!! what the heck is that?

  • J.Griffin


  • J.Griffin

    Plexiglass,or “acrylic glass” was first discovered in 1843.

    The transparent noses in B-17 bombers in WW2 were made from Plexiglass-
    somebody probably thought-
    “Hey,why not do the whole plane?”

    Lexan was used in the 1960’s to make the astronaut’s bubble face shields for their spacesuit helmets to go to the Moon.

    To build a standard small plane from plexiglass,lexan or something similar
    would be very doable.

    750mph however,
    would entail some seriously special material even now
    but in 1950 would have been quite a job.

    for a disposable nuclear bomber in that time period,
    money would have been no object.

    It also may have never reached that speed.

    It could be done at subsonic speeds,
    especially it only had to make one flight and did not need landing gear or a big crew.

    Doing only the wings in plexiglass would make it A LOT easier.

    Missiles (both ICBM’s and anti-aircraft) and extremely high altitude would have made
    all this obsolete anyway.

  • I’m an industrial designer. I’ve worked with plexiglass on a number of times. It’s too brittle on large surfaces.

  • J.Griffin

    I’m an industrial designer also.

    This is some of my work-
    I was central to many of the projects on this page:

    I wrote a longer comment separate from my my reply to you but for some reason it was not posted,
    I don’t know if that was the editor’s choice or something on my end.

    Plexiglass was first discovered in 1843.

    Lexan was used in the 60’s for astronaut face shields.

    Ii is not known for sure if this craft even existed so we don’t know if it had substructure or what kind…
    but if it did exist,
    surely it was not using standard Plexiglass!

    look at a sheet of aircraft aluminum-
    by itself,is it strong…
    or fragile?

    Aluminum can flex but it can be very brittle,
    as well.

    Look at the nose of the B-17:
    if that Plexiglass can handle the stress of the nose of the aircraft,
    why cannot it not be adapted to become wing material for a one-way flight?

    Have you ever been around that grade and thickness of Plexiglass?

    I’m sure that people like Hughes could look at that nose and say…
    I wonder if we can build a whole plane out of this stuff!”

    Radar,ICBM’s and SAM’s were advancing rapidly at this point so it was a rabbit trail anyway.

    people had much more of a sense of adventure&discovery then-
    The Sky was NOT the limit.

    They were not as cynical&”know it all” as much as they are now.

    At least,
    not the do-er’s anyway.

    Never trust an “expert” with no experience.

  • Ok, so lemme see if I’m understanding you correctly here…

    You’re saying that an airplane wing made entirely out of plexiglass would be feasible. Are you saying the whole thing, including the ribs & the spars?

    Like I say, I’m a designer, not an engineer. If the nose of a B-17 can withstand the stress, I’d gather it’s due to its position in relation to the craft’s motion, and it’s bullet-type shape.

    (I also think Alan Borky on his comment below is right: the thing would not be that ‘invisible’ to the naked eye, what with the reflecting properties of the plastic & such)

    I confess it’s an interesting idea. Perhaps we should write to the Mythbusters guys to help us out on this one 🙂

  • J.Griffin

    From above:
    “It is not known for sure if this craft even existed
    so we don’t know if it had substructure or what kind…
    but if it did exist,
    surely it was not using standard Plexiglass!”

    “Acrylic Glass” had come along way since 1843…
    even in 1946.

    As for the B-17’s,
    that material was bullet-resistant….
    NOT fragile.

    There are Remote Control aircraft that are made with transparent wings&bodies
    but they are usually made out of transparent vinyls,
    more like fabric-
    they mostly use a rib substructure made out of other materials that are colored brightly
    but those pieces could be made out of thick pieces of acrylic glass .

    Of course,
    a barely sub-sonic nuclear bomber would be operating under an entirely different application of physics…
    even if it was disposable and without landing gear!

    To better understand the potential,
    look at Ceconite.

    The actual material itself is useless as a wing covering.

    With the entire system,
    it was the skin of choice-
    once upon a time.

    Perhaps they wrapped it in an early form of Mylar or some unique combination-
    that was developed around the same time.

    There really is no telling-
    all you have here to go by are vague rumours.

    Here’s the thing-
    for a motor-glider drone,
    this concept would definitely have a potential application
    and is entirely do-able.

    I guess old Heinrich Dorfmann in “The Flight of the Phoenix”
    (I only count the original or the novel !)
    would have had a loud last laugh as to the trends in military/surveillance aircraft designs with all these drones…
    planes that only land for maintenance.

    NOT cool,though,right?

    The original name for this aircraft would probably still be just as appropriate
    for a drone,