Last month I interviewed Gene Burrows out in LaHarpe, Kansas and he was around the SoCal steam world in the 1960’s knowing Chadwell O’Connor and Bill Besler and mostly the Lantermans. Here is what Gene said about Besler’s steam airplane flight; that Besler made it only for publicity and flew it only once. The publicity was a great success because many reporters were there with cameras all of whom were expecting it to blow up either in the air or on the ground. When Bill landed he taxied over to the parking spot, reversed the engine and backed it in. As a result of the steam airplane he got the navy contract during WWII for smoke generators and made a lot of them and made money with them. The smoke generators used coils and burners, just like a steam engine. The only difference is that heavy bunker oil was injected into the hot coils instead of water. Once Gene saw Besler at Newport Beach and he came up behind him and said he was planning on putting a steam engine into an airplane and without turning around Bill said “Put it in an ultralight”.
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