Collection Item Summary:
This is one of the first U.S. air-cooled, radial aircraft engines, an original design, entirely hand built by Henri L. Albisser about 1909. It powered an aircraft that he also designed, built, and flew in Rahway, New Jersey at that time.
Before emigrating to the U.S. in 1905, Albisser was employed by the early French automobile manufacturer Peugot. He opened Rahway’s first garage, and kept busy assisting the town’s other four automobile owners. In 1908 he built and flew his first airplane, powered by a 2-cylinder, 9 kW (12 hp) engine and a 183 cm (6-ft) propeller. Seeking more performance, he built this engine the following year, with an aluminum crankcase and a 244 cm (8-ft) propeller, enabling him to fly as high as 183 m (600 ft) for as long as 10 minutes.
In 1920 Albisser joined Chrysler and assisted construction of the first Chrysler automobile. This artifact was later displayed in his own DeSoto automobile agency.