have always been a part of my life. My family was actively
involved in aviation, and
operated an FBO with sales worldwide for nearly fifty years.
I acquired the first propeller in my collection when I
was seventeen, a gift from my uncle when I received my
private pilot’s license. Since then, I have become
a dedicated collector of wooden ground adjustable and controllable
pitch propellers. 36 years later my collection has grown to 112 propellers.
Metal propellers replaced the majority of the early
fixed pitch propellers during the mid 1920s
and 1930s. The wooden propellers represented in my
collection are rare and of limited number due to the
short period of production – eight years - and
the conditions that affected them. Bird strikes, gravel
and moisture made it difficult to keep them balanced.
These propellers were easily damaged and not safely
repaired which led most of them to be removed and discarded.
By January 1941, nearly a year before World War II,
manufacturers could no longer get aluminum-alloy
sheet or even aluminum-alloy extrusions for use in
light aircraft and commercial airplanes. The nation’s
entire production of aluminum was being used for
military purposes, either to build up our own forces
or to help those who would later be our allies. During
this time the wooden
propeller returned to production
to keep general aviation and the small military trainers
The shortage of aluminum before and during the war,
led many manufacturers to design ground adjustable,
variable pitch and constant speed propellers using
wooden or composite propeller blades. Hamilton Standard
had contracted with “ERCO” Engineering
Research Corporation and Freedman Burnham Aircraft
Corporation. to profile a wood laminate, “Compreg” propeller
blade to retro-fit their metal SAE 20, 30, and 40 spline
counterweight hubs. These Hamilton Standard propellers
had been in production with metal blades from the early
1930’s and were only being used for the military.
The wooden blade propeller manufacturers of this era
were: Engineering Research Corp “ERCO”,
Freedman Burnham Aircraft Corporation, Beechcraft “ROBY”,
Hartzell “Hartzite”, Hoover Hydraulic Propeller,
EVEREL Propeller Corporation, Aeromaster, Aeromatic
Propeller, Continental Aviation Sky Power, Sensenich “Skyblade”,
Maynard DiCesare, Gardner and Iso-Rev.
My collection focuses on the wooden propeller blades
with metal ground adjustable, variable pitch and
speed hubs from 1938 through 1946. Additionally,
the collection contains a small number of metal propellers
that represent the period prior to the wooden collection,
the oldest a 1926 Standard Steel ground adjustable
thru 1938 with a Hamilton Standard Hydro Matic 22D30.
The Hydromatic propeller revolutionized the military
and the airline industry due to its compact design
that had demonstrated its safety and dependability
in millions of flight miles. In 1946, after the war
was over, aluminum was again available for propeller
production and most wooden propellers were removed
and again replaced with the more desirable and dependable
While building this collection, rarely did I find
a complete intact propeller. I found a single blade,
sometimes a pair or a parts missing hub. The controllable
propellers are much heavier than the wooden fixed pitch
props commonly used as wall hangers and mantel displays.
This caused many of the controllable propellers to
be dissembled and displayed as a single blade with
the hub simply discarded.
Not being able to purchase complete propellers, I acquired
the parts separately from all over the US and Canada.
The biggest challenge was finding all the pieces to
assemble a complete propeller. I had assistance from
a few well-known propeller shops in the US and Canada
and other wooden propeller collectors in locating some
of the rare components and propellers. Once I had located
the parts, I carefully cleaned, preserved and assembled
to the original manufacturer’s condition
It has been an interest of mine to preserve this time
in aviation history. Now that it’s nearing completion,
I want to share it with everyone that is interested
in this era. This collection is meant to represent,
as completely as possible, a particular historical
period, “the forgotten years of aviation”,
along with an artistic beauty of the wooden propellers.
With limited regulatory enforcement by the Civil
Aeronautics Administration, records and maintenance were not kept
as they are today with the FAA governing aviation.
Much of the written information and vintage ads compiled
on my web site were collected from hundreds of past
issues of aviation magazines and journals dating back
to 1925, manufacturer’s repair and service manuals
yearbooks. My research has involved the
National Air and Space museum and aviation libraries
around the country. I hope this web site will be useful
to anyone that shares the same interest and be a resource
If you have questions please feel free to contact