🔈

Howard Hughes v. The US Senate (1947)

Howard Hughes v. The US Senate (1947)

Audio from the Senate Committee Hearing

Image Courtesy of University of Nevada, Las Vegas, University Libraries
Image Courtesy of University of Nevada, Las Vegas, University Libraries

There is a scene in the 2004 movie, The Aviator, where Leonardo DiCaprio, as Howard Hughes, the richest man in the world, the greatest innovator in the aviation world, the academy award winning movie producer, is in front of a senate committee.

One of his companies, TWA, had just starting making international flights over the atlantic ocean from north america to Europe. Pan American Airlines, a giant commercial airline, was lobbying for a monopoly on international travel. PanAm had a lot of political swag and was using it to pressure Hughes’ TWA to sell itself to PanAm.

A politician, Senator Brewster, whom Hughes claimed was in the pocket of PanAm executives, started a US Senate committee to investigate Howard Hughes for the work done by Hughes Aircraft, another of his companies, for de-frauding the government. Hughes’ claim was that the committee only existed to pressure him into selling TWA to PanAm.

The scene in the movie depicts this real senate committee trial. And below are real audio recordings of the trial from 1947, which have Howard Hughes and the committee arguing magnificently.

The poignant tone of Hughes and his unwillingness to back down in front of the committee are incredible to hear. So have a listen:

Howard Hughes Trial Excerpt Part 1

Howard Hughes Trial Excerpt Part 2