The Rocketeer,

Minute 103: The Closest I’ll Ever Get

September 13, 2017

Guest Host: Martt Clupper

Martt was raised around a wide range of aviation influences. With an airline pilot dad who was a sailplane pilot and skydiver, he quickly became an fan of everything aviation oriented.

After unofficially learning to fly at 13, he soloed a glider on his 14th birthday, then powered aircraft at 16. As a junior in High School he started building a homebuilt airplane.

Currently, he’s restoring a 1959 Piper Super Cub, an airplane built using the same principles of construction as seen in the Gee Bee racer.

Martt’s been a Rocketeer fan since before the movie was released, having read various articles about the film before it was in theaters. Favorite quote : “the rock-a-who?”

Airpigz website


Howard Hughes is standing next to a GeeBee Model R he’s just taxied to a stop in front of the Bulldog Cafe. A small crowd from the diner has gathered around the aircraft. Hughes is talking to Jenny and Cliff.

“Would you excuse us for just a moment?” says Howard to Jenny.

“Of course,” says Jenny. Howard puts his hand on Cliff’s shoulder as they walk away from Jenny.  They take a few steps, then Hughes faces Secord.

“I’ve been meaning to ask you,” says Howard in a quiet voice, “What was it like — strapping that thing to your back, and flying like a bat out of Hell?”

Cliff exhales, smiles, and looks back at Hughes. “It was the closest I’ll ever get to Heaven, Mr Hughes,” replies Cliff. Hughes smiles and nods.

Cliff looks past Howard toward a smiling Jenny. “Well,” says Clifford, “maybe not…”  Hughes turns and sees Jenny talking to Peevy.

Howard turns back to Cliff, shakes his head, and grins. “See ya around, Rocketeer!” says Hughes. As Howard walks toward his waiting limousine, he turns back to Cliff.

“Oh,” says Howard, “Don’t ever fly her without this.” He tosses a small object to Secord. Cliff catches it, and looks closely at it. It’s a pack of Beeman’s Pepsin Gum. Secord looks back, puzzled — but Hughes has already entered his car. He turns to look back at the plane. A man in sunglasses reaches for a piece of tape on the side of the fuselage. He reveals a painted inscription:  “PILOT * Cliff Secord” written under the canopy.

Cliff, stunned, looks back at Hughes’s limo. Secord  laughs. The limo backs on to the Encino Road.

In This Minute
Bill Campbell as Cliff Secord
Jennifer Connelly as Jenny Blake
Alan Arkin as Peevy
Terry O’Quinn as Howard Hughes
Margo Martindale as Millie
William Sanderson as Skeets
Don Pugsley as Goose



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