This Hoosier Whirlwind compressed-air motor, crafted by Bert Pond, is now part of the collection at the National
Model Aviation Museum.
models ruled the skies.
were developed in an
attempt to fuel a longer
and more powerful flight.
These devices were made
by forming a tank out of
brass sheeting with piano
wire for reinforcement.
Brass caps were added to
both ends of the tank, and
one end was fitted with a
valve that connected to a
After pumping compressed
air into the tank, a valve controlled the
amount of air released, which turned the
motor and propeller. These power plants
were used during the 1920s and 1930s
as a more powerful (although usually
of shorter flight duration) replacement
for rubber power until small gas engines
gained popularity. Bert Pond, the maker
of the Hoosier Whirlwind motor,
continued to believe in and press the use
of the compressed air motors for much
Bert was a model enthusiast and
engineer who spent the late 1920s
writing for Popular Aviation and
Aeronautics, where he offered model-building tips and lighter, more powerful
compressed-air motors. He wrote several
articles about compressed air, which
were published in a series between July
and September of 1929.
His enthusiasm for the motors is
evident in the first article in the series,
in which he wrote, “For those who
have never constructed a compressed-air model before I can truthfully say
that there are few things made in the
workshop that can give the builder
any more pleasure than a compressed-air model airplane.” He also worked
during the 1930s in the Peru Model
Airplane Shop, where the Hoosier
Whirlwind Compressed Air Motor was
Although their popularity was short
lived, compressed-air motors such as
the one by Bert Pond that is preserved
in the museum’s collection, remind us
of a time that brought exciting advances
to model aviation. We are privileged
to care for such
an interesting piece of model aviation
National Model Aviation Museum Intern
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YOUR HOBBY. YOUR WAY.
12 Model Aviation DECEMBER 2013