Detroit, Mich
November 24, 1930
Inner Circle Volume XV
Number 18
Oh What a Rep for "REVS" Has the Packard-Diesel 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.
  Macauley Brossy  
  Edward Macauley Frederic Brossy  


Do you start by telling of its birth in November of 1929, born at the behest of the directors of a powerful industrial company? Perhaps it would be best to talk first of the airplane when it was featured in full page advertisements promoting diesel aircraft propulsion during the Golden Age of Aviation. But then you could talk about slipping away to Argentina and being gussied up by Air France in the 1930's, complete with a brand new set of fancy French controls. Of course, taking a man for a ride over Buenos Aires in '34 might be fun to talk about too, particularly when you note that he was to become the first pope to fly.
     It's all fun and very interesting. Yet these are only some of the reasons we restore and fly old airplanes. They have stories to tell and enjoyment to bring to the restorer, to the historian and to the most casual observer. They are fun to look at and fun to dream about, they bring a part of the past alive for each of us. Oh, if only we could be made as good as new when we are seventy years old! But enough of this talk. We are all very busy and we want to know a few hard facts first. Later perhaps we will have the time to feel the real romance.


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."
     It is interesting to note that diesel fuel is again beginning to find favor in some circles within the aircraft indeustry. At least two companies have announced diesel engines and NASA is sponsoring research in this area. One major advantage of diesel aircraft fuel, in addition to cost is safety. With the lower flash point of diesel fuel, it is much less explosive than gasoline in the event of an accident. Coincidentally, a sister ship in our Golden Wings collection is a Stinson "Detroiter" SM-1B, X-7654, was the first airplane to make a diesel powered flight, but that's another airplane and another story.

This is an almost verbatim extract from the booklet prepared by Greg Herrick
of Greg Herrick's Yellowstone Aviation, Inc., of Jackson, Wyoming
The plane is one of many in the Golden Wings Flying Museum.

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