In 1932 the Hughes Aircraft Company was formed as a division of Hughes Tool, the bread-and-butter business of the Hughes empire. During WWII, the H-4 Hercules “Spruce Goose” was developed and briefly flown by Howard to demonstrate that it was capable of flight. Notwithstanding that debacle, Hughes Aircraft was a huge manufacturer of aircraft during the second World War.
In 1947, helicopters became a part of Hughes Aircraft. In 1955 the helicopter was split from Hughes Aircraft into the Aircraft Division of the Hughes Tool Company. That same year, development started on the Hughes 269 with a rotor system powered by a horizontally-mounted Lycoming engine and eight belts. It entered production in 1957 and by 1960 it had been upgraded to the 269A. By 1965 it had become the U.S. Army’s primary flight trainer. Eventually, more than 35,000 military pilots were trained in the 269.
In 1983 U.S. production rights were sold to Schweizer in New York, a subsidiary of Sikorsky Aircraft. Civilian production continues to this day.