The Rocketeer,

Minute 011: Not a Chance

May 08, 2017


Brian Fies is a writer and cartoonist who created the award-winning graphic novels Mom’s Cancer and Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow, as well as the Eisner Award-nominated webcomic The Last Mechanical Monster. He’s been a newspaper reporter, environmental chemist, science writer, husband, and dad to twin girls.  Just like The Rocketeer, he lives in California.


Looking through an office window at a the Hughes H-1 racer, a Pitcairn Autogyro, and a hanging model of what would become the Spruce Goose. Three engineers look at blueprints and take measurements. On the wall, a sign says “Heterodynamic Research Laboratory.”

Howard Hughes is talking on a phone in his office. “Well, yes,  it could have been worse. Right,” says Hughes. He hangs up the phone.

“Was that Wollansky?” asks a government agent.

“They chased it to an airstrip in the valley,” replies Hughes. “There was a wreck on the runway.  The X-3 was destroyed.”

“Well, better lost than in the wrong hands,” says an Army Colonel.

“How soon can you rebuild it?” asks the agent.

“Rebuild it?” asks Hughes. “Not a chance.” Hughes looks at a large folder on his desk with a blueprint drawing labeled “HHAC ROCKET HCX CC-3” dated March 14, 1936. There’s also a letter dated August 1, 1938, addressed to Mr. Andrew M Siegel, Chairman, New York World’s Fair, 12843 Propview Street, Manhattan, New York.

Dear Mr. Siegel:

Hughes Industries proudly announces the development of the Cirrus X-3 Rocket. Engineered by the finest technicians at Hughes Aircraft Company, the Cirrus X-3 will allow you to rocket into the future.

On display at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, the Cirrus X-3 will be viewed upon as clearly the most important technological transportation breakthrough in the history of mankind.

 Tested by the world’s greatest pilots and flight analysts, the aerodynamic Cirrus X-3 will enable man to travel anywhere he chooses.

No longer confined by the terrain,  lack of decent waterways, or overcrowded highways, man will now be able to travel with the freedom he was meant to. 

The Cirrus (blocked by a ribbon) traveling device built with the finest materials available. A soft, yet (blocked by ribbon) suitable for any individual’s proportions, allows the Cirrus X-3 to be fitted to a (blocked by ribbon) and safety, no matter their size. It simply straps into place, and freedom is (blocked by ribbon).

Imagine the places you can travel with the Cirrus X-3 Rocket. Adventure and practicality combine to make this latest achievement by Hughes Industries their greatest contribution to rocketry yet. 

So join us, please, at The 1939 New York World’s Fair as we rocket into the future and into your life!


Howard Hughes

“My people in Washington will have something to say about that,” says the government agent.

“Your people in Washington want to turn anything that flies into a weapon,” replies Hughes. “Apparently someone else had the same idea.”

“Sir, I’m afraid we must insist,” says the Army Colonel.

“I’ll remind you boys that I don’t work for the government,” says Hughes. “I cooperate at my discretion. Two of my best pilots were killed during the test phase. God knows how many more men would have died if it had flown.” Hughes picks up the folder containing the blueprints and documentation. Behind him is a credenza with a model of the as-yet-unbuilt XF-11 reconnaissance aircraft.

“No, gentlemen – –  I’m sorry I ever dreamed –” begins Hughes.


In This Minute

Terry O’Quinn as Howard Hughes
William Boyett as Army Colonel
William Frankfather as Government Liaison



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