Aviation pioneer Jack Real dies at 90
LOS ANGELES -- Aviation pioneer Jack Real, who helped develop the Apache
helicopter and authored a book on his friendship with reclusive
billionaire Howard Hughes, has died. He was 90.
Real died Sept. 6 of heart failure at Providence Holy Cross Medical
Center in Mission Hills, longtime companion Betty O'Connor said
Saturday. He had suffered from Parkinson's disease and had been
hospitalized for nearly a year.
"He was a such a special man and had an influential role in the aviation
industry," said O'Connor, a former executive administrative assistant at
Lockheed. "He was a very kind, gentle man, but firm."
Real was a vice president for Lockheed Martin Corp and headed Hughes'
helicopter division before becoming president and CEO of McDonnell
Douglas Helicopter Co.
At the time of his death, Real was chairman emeritus of the Evergreen
Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Ore. He was instrumental in relocating
Hughes' ill-fated massive flying boat the "Spruce Goose" to the museum
In 2003, he published the book, "The Asylum of Howard Hughes", which
detailed his 20-year friendship with Hughes, including his efforts to
arrange a flight to carry an ailing Hughes from Mexico to a Houston
hospital in 1976. Hughes died en route.
Real, a native of Baraga, Mich., graduated in 1937 from what is now
Michigan Technological University and went to work for Lockheed, where
he helped design, develop, and test the B-14 Hudson Bomber and the
Cheyenne helicopter, among other aircraft.
As Lockheed's chief engineer of research, development, and testing, he
worked on projects at Southern Nevada's mysterious Area 51. He also was
the flight engineer in charge of the first flight of the C-130 Hercules
in the early 1950s. The cargo vehicle is still used for U.S. military
With Real at the helm, Hughes Helicopters received the Robert J. Collier
trophy in 1983, American aviation's highest honor for aeronautics. Real
later became chief operating officer of McDonnell Douglas Helicopter. He
retired in 1987.