How Did the Hells Angels Get Their Name, What Does it Mean, and Where Did They Come From?

The outlaw motorcycle gang known as Hells Angels grew from a small group of post World War II servicemen who longed for the danger, excitement, and comradeship they had experienced in the wartime military.

Fueled by movies during the 1950s and media hype and their own sense of rebellion and outrageous behavior, the Hells Angels have gone off track and grown into an international underworld organization.

The motorcycle gang took its name from a famous American B17F bomber whose heroic crew of six named themselves and their Flying Fortress Hell’s Angels.

The aircrew, in, turn, was inspired by the title of the 1930 Howard Hughes film that introduced and starred the legendary Jean Harlow.

In Fontana, California, on May 17, 1948, two small biker gangs joined to form the first Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.

The initial membership was twenty-five.

The bomber crew known as Hell’s Angels became famous when after flying forty-eight missions its members toured the United States, pointing out the combat scars and patches that covered their “fort.”

While flying a bombing run, the famous B-17’s Captain Baldwin first suggested over the interphone that his men name the plane and themselves after the Hughes film.

One of Baldwin’s crew, remarking on the mission being flown, replied, “Why not? This is the closest to hell that angels will ever get!”

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

1 thought on “How Did the Hells Angels Get Their Name, What Does it Mean, and Where Did They Come From?”

  1. my x husband said he rode with the Hells Angel in Cali. I heard from a few others he did. He died in 2009 and has 3 sons. I know the nearest chapter is located in Rockford Ill Strawberry who works with the BlackMarket Tatoo my youngest son always talked about her for over 20 yrs i got to meet her a few months ago when i moved around the corner down the street she told me about the nearest chapter and she says she always came down and talked with. we met each other in 64 and stayed together. I’d like to hear from some of them and see if they can tell me more. he told me a lot about the gang but he wasn’t the most honest person.

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