Capt. Lionel M. Woolson & Walter E. Lees, May, 1929
WALTER IS INVOLVED WITH DIESEL AIRCRAFT ENGINE PROJECT AT PACKARD In Detroit at Packard, Walter became involved in a very special Project. Captain Lionel M. Woolson, the Chief Aeronautical Engineer and Dipl.Ing., Hermann I.A. Dorner, a diesel engine inventor from Hanover, Germany, designed the Packard diesel with the help of Packard engineers and Dorner's assistant, Adolph Widmann. Walter worked with Woolson and Marvin Steele, the assistant engineer. The historic first flight of the Packard diesel engine took place on September 19, 1928, at the Packard proving grounds, Utica, Michigan. But the first unofficial test was made the night before. Walter was given the distinction of flying the world's first diesel powered airplane flight. From Jo Cooper's PIONEER PILOT : WALTER RECALLS THE EARLY DAYS IN TESTING THE ENGINE I made the first test in a Stinson, a cabin job, the SM-IDX "Detroiter". The official test flight was to be in the morning, but Captain Woolson and I took the plane up the evening before just to be sure. The engine had only one valve which acted as intake and exhaust. Our first test engine did not even have short exhaust stacks, but exhausted directly out of the cylinder into the open air.It flew all right, but coming in to land, I couldn't throttle under 1500, so took off again. In my next attempt at landing, I lined up the plane on a glide to the field, then cut the fuel off entirely and landed with a dead stick. The next day I made several flights. Capt. Woolson had installed a revolving valve on the intake and exhaust ports. It was hooked to the throttle so that it was open for take off and flying, but then closed off the ports and put back suction in the cylinders so the engine would slow down when landing. I made many expereimental flights with Capt. Woolson, also with mechanics. Once we made a flight to 19,000 feet without oxygen. We also made several night flights with automobile headlights for landing lights. While flying one day, Capt. Woolson confided to me that he some day wanted to make an engine with one moving part. To start the engine in cold weather, we heated each cylinder with a blow torch, then ran the engine to warm it up. The flying was done inside the Packard Proving grounds, approximately 3/4 mile long and 1/4 mile wide. There was a hangar at one end. To impress the visitors who came out to see the engine run and fly, in winter time Capt. Woolson would call me up from the plant in Detroit, telling me the approximate time he and the visitors would reach the Proving Grounds. We would warm the engine up in the hangar and keep it running until we saw the car with the Capt. and the visitors turn into the grounds. Then we


would shut the engine off and when they arrived, push the plane outside and start the engine before they could inspect it and see it was already warm. The first starter was a shot gun. Later, it was replaced by a special electrical starter. We also installed glow plugs in the head of each cylinder, hooked up directly to a large battery. When the push button for the starter was depressed, contact with the glow plugs was made. At no time was gasoline used to start the engine. SELECTION FROM WALTER LEE'S JOURNAL Packard to Begin Building Diesel Plane Engines Soon Will Start Construction at Once on New Three Story Factory to Handle Work [From Aviation, March 2, 1929, vol. 26, no. 10] DETROIT, MICHIGAN - Indication that the Diesel type airplane engine, recently developed by Capt. L. M. Woolson, chief aeronautical engineer of the Packard Motor Car Co., will become a commercial reality and possibly a revolutionary factor in airplane design, is seen here in the announcement of the concern that it will begin construction immediately of a $650,000 plant to produce the engines in large quantity for the commercial market. The new plant, according to the announcement by Hugh J. Ferry, treasurer of the Packard firm, will be completed and in operation within five weeks. Between 600 and 700 men will be employed and, according to the expectations, production will be carried on at the rate of about 500 Diesel engines per month by July. The Packard Diesel was announced first in October, following experiments covering several years. The original engine was placed in a Stinson-Detroiter, which was flown successfully by Captain Woolson and Walter Lees, Packard pilot. Since that time Captain Woolson has built four of the engines, all of 200 hp. capacity, developing 1 hp. for every 2 lb. of weight.


This is the engine which made the Endurance Flight successful.


Specifications Type Cylinders Cooling Fuel injection Valves Ignition Fuel Horsepower Bore and stroke Compression ratio Displacement Weight Weight-horsepower ratio Where manufactured Fuel consumption Fuel consumption Oil consumption Outside diameter Overall length Optional accessories

4-stroke cycle diesel 9---static radial configuration Air Directly into cylinders at a pressure of 6000 psi Poppet type, one per cylinder Compression---glow plugs for starting---air compression 500 psi at 1000 F. Distillate or "furnace oil" 225 at 1950 rpm 4 13/.16 x 6 in. 16:1---maximum combustion pressure 1500 psi 982 cu in. 510 lb without propeller hub 2.26 lb hp U.S.A. .46 lb per hp/hr at full speed .40 lb per hp/hr at cruising .04 lb per hp/hr 45 11/16 in. 36 3/4 in. Starter---Eclipse electric inertia; 6 volts. Special series no. 7 Generator---Eclipse type G-1; 6 volts

Instruction Book for the Packard-Diesel Aircraft Engine (Detroit: Packard Motor Car Company, 1931), p. 3. The specifications from SMITHSONIAN ANNALS OF FLIGHT, The First Airplane Diesel Engine Packard Model DR-980 of 1928 - Robert B. Meyer 1964

Packard diesel-powered Stinson "Detroiter", 1929


Detroit, Mich November 24, 1930

Inner Circle

Volume XV Number 18

Oh What a Rep for "REVS" Has the PackardDiesel Engine!
Sales Manager, Aircraft and Marine Engine Division So interesting was the 10,000 mile demonstrating flight of Edward Macauley and Fred Brossy, Packard pilot of their Diesel-powered plane, that Mr. Macauley set forth their experiences en route.

"REVS." You won't find the word in any dictionary, but Mr. Webster will soon give it a place, for it has become a real word everywhere and means the revolutions per minute of an internal combustion engine. "Revs" -- a contraction of the word "revolutions" but meaning much more - is one of the most important "words" in the lexicon of the flying man. A full quota of "Revs" with plenty of distance between his landing wheels and the ground and the flying man can feel as carefree as a baby with a bottle. You have to come out here to Colorado Springs thought to find the place where "Revs" assume more importance than anywhere in the country. We discovered this, Fred Brossy, Packard test pilot, and myself when we stopped here on our 10,000 mile demonstrating flight with our Packard Diesel-engined plane. Colorado Springs flying men know how "Revs" go down as altitudes increase and how power falls off as "Revs" drop. It is brought home to them more sharply than elsewhere because, when they leave a flying field here, they have to keep right on climbing to carry them over the mountains. These mountains are high, too, so that 10,000 foot altitudes are almost normal in flying. Some of the stories about our engine which we have been encountering are downright amusing. But there has been a posiitive chuckle in the way the Packard-Diesel has been answering them. We "learned" here that our engine would "never amount to anything because it couldn't fly at altitudes." That story persisted so long it had moss on it. This was a real setting to spike an untrue story and show most graphically an inherent feature of the Packard-Diesel which is going to mean a tremendous big thing to the flying man who gives any thought to "Revs-- -and try and find a flying man who doesn't! Our passengers on the first demonstration trip watched the tachometer and altimeter as we climbed. At 10,000 feet, the Colorado Springs men discovered for themselves that , with the throttle unchanged from a setting for a normal cruising speed of 1800 R.P.M. at the ground, the "Revs" went up to 1800. They also discovered that the 225 horsepower Packard-Diesel Engine is the equivalent of a 350 horsepower gasoline engine at 20,000 foot altitude.


Edward Macauley

Frederic Brossy

WHAT IS THIS AIRPLANE? It's a Buhl "Sport Airsedan" manufactured by the Buhl Aircraft Company of Marysville, Michigan in November of 1929. She was purchased by order of the Board of Directors of the Packard Motor Company who, meeting on Wednesday, May 28th, 1930 at 3:00 p.m., They had decided they needed a good ship to demonstrate the wonders of their new Packard diesel aircraft engine. At that meeting they voted to spend the princely sum of $8,566.67 on a new Buhl Sport Airsedan. Packard needed to get their new Buhl retrofitted with the experimental Packard diesel engine. NC-8451 Serial No. 57 was originally built by the factory as a Model CA-3D which means it was powered by a Wright J6-9 engine of 300 h.p. at 2,000 r.p.m. The Wright J6-9 represented an upgrade from the 220 h.p. J5 used in earlier Buhl Sport Airsedans. It was initially licensed to carry three people under Approved Type Certificate (ATC) #163, issued June 12, 1929. NC-8451 and a number of other siblings were given special "Group 2 Approval" (also know as a "Letter of Approval") 2-72, granted July 24, 1929, to carry four people after the new engine had proven itself worthy. With the Packard order, the Wright engine was exchanged for the new experimental Packard diesel aircraft engine. The airplane was then "experimental" until December 11, 1930 when another Group 2 Approval, 2-309, was granted especially for NC-8451 with its diesel engine. Though nearly 100 aircraft were reportedly equipped with the new Packard engine, this was to be the only diesel powered Buhl. The Packard Motor Car Company tried mightily to prove the viability of the diesel engine. They lavished advertising and promotion dollars on the project far in excess of any eventual return. Sadly, the project was abandoned, in part when its primary sponsor within the organization, Mr. L. M. Woolson, was tragically killed in an aircraft accident and the ever increasing depression forced virtually all American industries to focus on what we would now phrase their "core competencies."


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