Even if you’re a pilot it is tough to recommend the new movie The Aviator. Despite its ponderous length the story seems told in a very sketchy manner. Hollywood seems to have forgotten what Homer demonstrated in the Iliad: Epic works best when told in medias res (“in the middle of the thing”). Attempting to cover decades of events in 169 minutes results in raising more questions than can be answered. It might have been a better film if it had covered just the years in which Hughes lived with Katherine Hepburn, for example. The flying and engineering scenes were not very accurate. One thing that was horrifyingly accurate was the crash of the XF-11 reconnaissance plane (background). If you have a multi rating this will bring back some memories of your instructor cutting off the fuel to one engine and the resulting yaw. In the case of the XF-11, however, it was designed so that a loss of oil pressure would result in one of the props going into reverse pitch and producing so much drag that one couldn’t hold altitude on the remaining engine. It would be interesting to know why the plane even had the ability to reverse pitch; a recon plane wouldn’t have needed to land on short runways and use the engines for braking.
Airplane nerds will enjoy http://www.planeandpilotmag.com/content/2005/jan/howard_hughes.html, which makes it clear that nearly all of Hughes’s crashes were due either to failure to preflight/plan or failure to “plan the flight and fly the plan”.