May 16, 1943: Howard Hughes was conducting a test flight of an experimental seaplane when it suddenly nosedived and crashed into Lake Mead in Nevada. The plane’s propeller snapped, slicing through the fuselage and into the head of mechanic Richard Felt before embedding itself in the plane and knocking William “Ceco” Cline, an inspector for the Civil Aeronautics Administration, into the lake. Cline’s body was never found. Hughes received a severe blow to the head but escaped with his co-pilot, Felt and another engineer before the plane sank. They were rescued, but Felt died two days later.
The Times described the plane as a “large twin-engine experimental flying boat” and said it was in the process of being tested for CAA approval before being delivered to the Army Corps of Engineers.