From the Archives of Lester
by Mark M. Hendershot
THE LESTER J. HENDERSHOT STORY TOLD BY MARK M. HENDERSHOT
My name is Mark Hendershot, Lester J. Hendershot was my Father.
Lester was an inventor and in his many attempts at producing
practical items, he had a moderate success a few times with
electronic toys, and had sold some of his ideas to small
manufacturers. His biggest idea, however, was so revolutionary that
it embarrassed the nation's top scientists be-cause they couldn't
explain it, and if it could be perfected, it would possibly
eliminate the need for public electric utilities in many instances,
and it would completely change most of our present concepts of
His earlier invention was called a "motor" by the newspapers, but it
was actually a generator which was powered by the magnetic field of
the earth. His later models created enough electricity to
simultaneously light a 120 volt light bulb and a table model radio.
I witnessed it furnishing the power to run a television set and a
sewing machine for hours at a time in our living room.
It was in 1927 and 1928 that my Father began to think seriously
about this "fuel-less" generator. He had taken up flying in 1925 and
he soon realized that the ultimate development of aviation would be
greatly enhanced by the creation of an absolutely true and reliable
compass, and his first efforts were to produce such an instrument.
He theorized that the magnetic compass did not point to true north
and varies from true north to a different extent at almost every
point on the earth's surface. Also, the induction compass has to be
set before each flight and at that time was not always reliable. He
claimed that with a pre-magnetized core he could set up a magnetized
field that would indicate the true north, but he didn't know just
how to utilize that in the compass he had set out to develop.
In continuing his experiments, he found that by cutting the same
line of magnetic force north and south, he had an indicator of the
true north and that by cutting the magnetic field east and west, he
could develop a rotary motion.
With this principle in mind, he switched his plans and began working
on a motor which utilized this magnetic power. He built one that
would rotate at a constant speed, a speed pre-determined when the
motor was built. It could be built for a desired speed, he said, and
he felt that a reli-able constant speed motor was one of the
greatest needs in aviation at that time. The one he built developed
1,800 revolutions per minute.
In the following years, he realized that the idea of a magnetically
powered motor was not as practical as a magnetically-powered
generator, so his later work was directed toward the generator.
To avoid confusion, it should be pointed out that the early
experiments began on a magnetically-powered motor, and later a
The first significant experiments on the motor version were held at
Selfridge Field, Detroit, under the direction of Major Thomas G.
Lanphier, commandant of the field and leader of the First Pursuit
The device demonstrated at Selfridge was a small model of what he
hoped would be developed into an airplane engine [powered by earth's
magnetic field]. Quotes in the newspapers referred to top
aeronautical brass of the day and their impressions of what they
One such report was credited to William B. Stout, president of the
Stout Air Service, Inc., and designer of the all-metal type plane
used by the Ford Motor Company. Stout's comments were: "The
demonstration was very impressive. It was actually uncanny. I would
like very much to see a large model, designed to develop enough
power to lift an airplane."
Major Lanphier's comments to reporters after the demonstrations
"The whole thing is so mysterious and startling
that it has the appearance of being a fake."
"I was extremely skeptical when I saw the first model," he
continued, "but I helped to build the second one and witnessed
the winding of the magnet. I am sure there was nothing phony
My Father had first shown the military brass how his
model worked, then he supervised army technicians in building their
own model, which worked perfectly. Major Lanphier said that the
electrical men to whom they had shown the motor "... laughed at the
way we wired it up and said it wouldn't work. Then it DID work."
It was the Selfridge Field experiment which touched off the series
of stories in the national press. Stories with blaring headlines in
such papers as the Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, Detroit Times,
Pittsburgh papers, The New York Times, and many others. Most of them
tagged the instrument demonstrated at Selfridge the "miracle motor,"
and there were pictures of Major Lanphier and Col. Lindbergh, my
Father and the motor.
Anything in the news during that period which could be connected
with Lindbergh was front page whether he had an active interest, or
just happened to be in the area at the time.
Headlines in the various papers read,
"Gasless Motor Tested for Lindy,"
"Lindy Inspects Fuelless Motor for
and "Lindbergh Tries Motor That The Earth
One story even stated that, at its request, Lindbergh
and Lanphier were flying to New York to show the motor to the
Guggenheim Foundation for the Promotion of Aeronautics.
Later reports, however, emphasized that Lindbergh actually had
nothing whatsoever to do with the experiments, and that he had just
witnessed a couple of the demonstrations as the guest of his friend,
The Selfridge tests seemed to satisfy Lanphier and his associates,
how-ever, and during the period he was there, the model the
technicians built obtained as high as 1,800 revolutions per minute
and they announced its performance was entirely satisfactory. It was
estimated these motors would run for 2,000 to 3,000 hours before the
magnet center would have to be recharged.
A man named Dr. F. W. Hochstetter, of the Hochstetter Research
Laboratories in Pittsburgh, hastily called a news conference and
displayed models of what he said were the "Hendershot Motor." He
demonstrated them, and when they wouldn't work, he declared
Hendershot was a fake, and that the motors worked only because of
power derived from concealed pencil batteries.
After he exhibited his models of the motor, Dr. Hochstetter
announced that they wouldn't generate enough electricity to,
"...light a 1-volt fire-fly" or to "...stitch a
Noting the lavish lecture room in a New York hotel
which had been rented by (or for) Dr. Hochstetter for the press
conference, Dr. Hochstetter was asked [by one reporter] why he was
so interested in the Hendershot demonstrations and in trying to
discredit them. He replied merely that he had "come to expose a
fraud which would be capable of destroying faith in science for
1,000 years" and he claimed his only motive was that "pure science
might shine forth untarnished."
It was obvious to those who were pro-Hendershot that, in view of all
the fuss and bother of such a noted scientist as Dr. Hochstetter,
somewhere behind it all, someone was anxious for the innovation to
When approached with the accusations, my Father smiled and told
"Dr. Hochstetter is correct, to a degree. I have
concealed batteries in a model or two because I found that I
could not trust some of my visitors, and I also had evidence
that someone had tampered with my work. So, I put a couple of
batteries in on occasion to lead the intruders away from what I
was working on."
He added that Major Lanphier and his army technicians
were proof enough of his claims. "I didn't build the motor that was
demonstrated at Detroit," he pointed out.
"That was built by Army men under orders from
Major Lanphier and under my direction. I didn't even so much as
wind the motor. They built the motor and it works. That's my
answer to all the critics—it works."
Dr. Hochstetter and his associates also claimed my
Father had signed a contract and received $25,000 for exploitation
of the motor, but after a brief period of excitement, the matter was
Not long after his demonstrations of the motor, Dr. Hochstetter died
under unusual circumstances. He was in a Baltimore and Ohio train
wreck, and he was the only passenger on the whole train who lost his
My Father was the butt of many jokes and comments at the time of the
debates about his invention. An artist, drawing for one of the
Pittsburgh papers, depicted him in a cartoon riding a propellorless
airplane. The caption made fun of him.
In later years my Father remarked,
"Every time I see a jet plane go over now, I
think of that cartoon and how everyone laughed at me for
suggest-ing a plane could some day fly without a propeller.
Twenty-five years ago I tried to tell them that."
As suddenly as it all started, the publicity and
sensationalism of the Hendershot motor stopped. The last news story
to appear was on March 10, 1928, when a small article appeared in
most papers saying that Lester Hendershot was a patient in Emergency
Hospital in Washington.
The personal account he gave was much the same as the newspaper
quote, with the minor exception that he was it by a bolt of 220
volts, not the jolting 2,000 the over-eager reporter had written. He
was demonstrating the motor in the patent office, and the shock
paralyzed his vocal chords, resulting in several weeks of
recuperation before he completely recovered.
Something happened during this period that could explain the actions
of Dr. Hochstetter and his associates. My Father said that while he
was in the hospital, he was approached by a large corporation to
stop his activity in connection with the motor or generator.
Until the day he died, he would not reveal the name of the company,
only that if he were successful with his generator, it would be a
serious threat to their multimillion dollar industry. He named the
sum he accepted as $25,000, and the condition was that he was not to
build another unit for twenty years. That's when he dropped out of
I've thought about the bizarre events connected with the generator,
and feel it is possible the "large corporation" first tried to stop
the activities through Dr. Hochstetter. When this failed, they
approached my Father personally and bought him off. It's interesting
to note that one of the doctor's charges was that he was paid
$25,000 to exploit his work. Isn't it odd that this is the same
figure actually paid, but to stop his activities, but was quoted
before he was approached with the offer?
My Father admitted that he and the family lived in constant fear, as
we were being contacted every so often by crackpots who had delved
into the records and discovered his creation, and had gone to the
trouble of searching him out. Some of them, he suspected, were
representatives of subversive groups and/or foreign powers.
This latter charge seems a little exaggerated, but was supported by
a series of letters he received from a fellow in Ohio in 1952. He
had traced my Father by going back to his hometown in Pennsylvania
and talking to my uncle about the generator.
The first letter explained that he was a part of a group of
scientists who were privately financing their own research on the
same phenomena my Father discovered in 1928. He emphasized they
would not allow backing by any organization or government since an
invention such as the Hendershot Generator should be for,
"all the peoples and should not be controlled by
national governments, but should be given gratis to the World
Government when it is ready to assume World Responsibility."
He was critical of my Father for allowing the
military to look at it in 1928.
That letter was written in April, and in June a postcard came with
the following terse message,
"Will shortly make public via radio and
news-paper, connection your generator with 'Flying Saucer
Propulsion.' Request Security Clearance from Security Chief your
group within forty-eight hours. Have succeeded in duplication of
In July my Father received a four-page hand-written
epistle from the Ohio man. To my knowledge, it was the last letter
the writer sent on the subject. He discussed information his
intelligence had received on flying saucers, modestly admitting his
sources were better than the CIA or the FBI, which he claimed had
investigated him several times. He intimated that a Pasadena
scientist had recently been kidnapped because he was working on an
attempt to adapt the generator to aircraft.
Then he went into a long and rambling dissertation on how he got
interested in what he called the "Ether Vortex Phenomena" and the
generator. He explained that the magnetic field in the earth and
volcanic action are related, according to his studies. He had spent
two and one-half years in Japan working with Japanese volcanic
scientists on the subject.
He mentioned one study he had made, and pointed out that the shift
of the strata causing the volcano was due to a rotation of the
Electromagnetic Field of the volcano at high speeds. He urged my
Father to write a complete paper on his findings and publish them
(preferably send them to the Earthquake Research Institute in
Referring to a particularly bad earthquake which had just occurred
in the Los Angeles vicinity a few months before, the writer warned
my Father not to operate his generator in the area near the San
Andreas (seismic) Fault which runs through the area.
"You may not believe it, but you can cause
earthquake activity to increase if you continue to operate your
generator in that district. I am wondering if you were not
directly responsible for the recent earthquake near Los
Then he promised that he and his associates would
keep the possibility of his involvement in the earthquake to
Letters such as these, plus occasional phone calls when the callers
would not identify themselves, and a threat from an admitted
Communist which was turned over to the FBI, caused my Father concern
much of the time. If a large organization would take over the
generator and its re-search, all he wanted out of it was enough
money to take care of himself and his family in the future years.
One of the most encouraging offers came in September of 1956 when my
Father received word that officials of the Mexican government wanted
to meet with him and discuss the possibility of using his generator
for the rural development program in Mexico.
Government officials flew to Los Angeles and drove out to our house,
where our family doctor who spoke Spanish acted as interpreter.
Arrangements were made for the family to go to Mexico City, and for
my Father to work with Mexican technicians on the generator.
We all flew to Mexico City and were housed in an apartment near the
home of the Director of Electricity. My Father supervised the
Mexicans in building a model. He had been working with them for
several weeks becoming more and more tense as time passed. He
confessed to my Mother that he was frightened because he understood
no Spanish, and his fellow workers talked constantly in little
groups by themselves, often glancing over at him. He couldn't
understand a word they were saying, and it worried him considerably.
One morning in February of 1957, the laboratory called and asked
where my Father was. My Mother told them he had left for work in the
morning, and if he wasn't there, she had no idea where he might be.
She became increasingly concerned as the day passed and there was no
word from him.
That night he didn't come home, and we were on the verge of hysteria
by next morning, then we received a telegram from Los Angeles. My
Father's fear had worked itself into a nervous frenzy and he had
rushed to the airport the day before and taken a plane for
California. To the day of his death, it was a closed subject and he
would never explain why he was compelled to leave us so suddenly
under such strange circumstances, except that he feared for his
The final attempt to promote the generator came in the latter part
of 1960 when a Dr. Lloyd E. Cannon convinced my Father that he had
the facilities to present the project to the United States Navy for
research and development.
Cannon said he was the General Manager of his own company, Force
Research of Los Angeles, Palm Springs and the Mojave Desert. Cannon
explained that his group was made up of many dedicated scientists of
various fields who contributed time and knowledge to Force Research
projects. The range of experimentation covered electronics,
astronautics, free energies, propulsion, and parapsychology.
Under my Father's supervision, two models were built and 100 copies
of a fifty-six-page "proposal" were printed for presentation to the
various government agencies and politicians who would have to review
the project for its consideration.
After the completion of the proposal and it had been sent to the
government with no results, Cannon traveled the southwestern United
States with the models trying to raise money for research. His
visits were increasingly less frequent to our home until 1961, when
a tragic climax to this story occurred.
On April 19, 1961, upon returning home from school, I found my
Father dead. It was recorded as a suicide without any further
investigation. For those who might be interested in my Father's
analysis of how his generator worked, the following are his theories
on the subject:
This field of magnetism surrounding the earth is
similar to the field of magnetism in a man-made generator.
The rotor of a generator is revolved by some
means of power, cutting the lines of magnetism, creating
electric power. The earth is turning inside of a field of
magnetism. That, no one contradicts, yet it is claimed there is
no power to be derived from it.
Let's say we have a mechanism that will collect,
polarize and create a positive and negative connection to this
tremendous power that is ever-present on the earth.
Take a survey compass. You can hold the needle
east or west, and let go of it, and it immediately goes north
and south. This same power, when cut by the proper apparatus as
the earth rotates inside this magnetism, will produce power, the
amount of which is not calculated at this time.
As long as the earth rotates around the sun, it
will create electric power which some scientists claim does not
exist. Yet, we dig into the moun-tains for material that costs
us unbelievable sums, to create the same power.
This magnetism surrounding the earth is in the
same relation to electric power as uranium is to atomic power.
Earth's magnetism is ever-pres-ent at any height or depth. It is
equal to uranium as a by-product for power, namely electricity.
Magnetism must be cut. The lines of force
circling the earth are constant and if this force is broken up,
and polarized, you have the equivalent of uranium broken up,
which creates a heat and in turn creates power.
Breaking up the forces of magnetism, polarizing
them, thereby creating a resistance for power, is the same
principal as atomic energy.
Scientists claim it requires friction to generate
electricity. I claim the earth rotating as it does, according to
scientific theory, creates friction as a generator. The
ever-present magnetism is the field, or stator.
We have only to utilize this source of power to
light every home, high-way, bridge, airplane or any type of
thing that cannot now be lighted because of inadequacy of
A very small unit composed of wire, a magnet,
several especially designed coils, condensers, collector units,
and a few other minor items, will cut this force. Another
especially designed mechanism will polarize it, giving a
positive and a negative connection to any resistance and the
result is the generation of electricity.
There you have the theory of how to create
electricity from the magnetic force of the earth, as written by a
man with only a high school education.
As years went by I've always wanted to continue with my Father's
invention, but have worried myself about possibly running into the
same problems my Father did.
It would not do my Father justice just to stop all work on it and
now I am ready to fulfill his dream. Since childhood I have been
fascinated by electricity and have spent over twenty-six years in
the electrical trade.
Of his three sons, I alone have pursued this
fascination and have applied my knowledge and experience to carry on
my Father's work.
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