Crosley Takes to the Air
BY DAVE CROCKER
When we say "Crosley takes to the air," were not talking about the "air waves," as in the
Crosley's Radio Station WLW broadcasting. This article is about one of the many ventures of Powel
Crosley who manufactured anything he thought would make an honest buck. Editor).
As collectors, we all know that the Crosley Company made radios and speakers for the
home. Lots of them! And, some collectors are aware that Powel Crosley, great entrepreneur that he
was, also made the highly successful Crosley Shelvador refrigerator and the tiny Crosley
automobile. But, did you know it didn't end there?
Digging deeper, we find he also manufactured and marketed a line of radio transmitters,
farm wind chargers, generators, home heaters, fans, phonograph pick-ups, automatic furnace
coal stokers, hair restorers, gymnasium exercisers, water coolers, air conditioners, facsimile
machines, clocks, timers, bug zappers, sporting equipment, washing machines, electric ironers, waffle
irons, coffee makers, baby walkers, wind-up flashlights, cameras, motor scooters, tractors, and,
yes, televisions. Though I probably missed a few others, I must also include airplanes!
Having owned many seaplanes to travel from Cincinnati to his "Seagate" mansion in
Sarasota, Florida, Powel Crosley decided to venture into aircraft manufacture. As described in
The Crosley Broadcaster for June 1, 1929, a prototype, 3-place, parasol-type airplane was introduced. It
was powered by a 7-cylinder, 110 horsepower, Warner-Scarab rotary engine.
Powel named it the
Moonbeam after the mythical daughter of Luna. It had a wing span of 40
feet and was just over 25 feet long. The
Moonbeam's design is credited to Edward Stalker, a
professor at the University of Michigan's Aeronautics Department, where he specialized in stress
analysis. The Moonbeam was intended to be a mass-produced, inexpensive (of course) aircraft for
the commercial market. A factory site and test field was being sought in the Cincinnati area.
It is interesting to note that the last paragraph of the article reads, "The manufacture of
the 'Moonbeam' is a purely personal venture of Mr. Crosley. The 'Moonbeam' factory will not
be affiliated in any way with the Crosley Radio Corporation."
Although the airplane had good acceleration and landing capabilities, fewer than six were
ever built, as Powel quickly realized that aircraft manufacture was not his niche. With a little help from
the Great Depression of 1929, the
Moonbeam's future died.
Reference: The Crosley Broadcaster, June 1, 1929.
(Dave Crocker, 35 Santuit Pond Rd., #4B, Mashpee, MA 02649)
Dave Crocker, a graphic artist and a semi-retired member of the A.R.C. staff, has been
collecting radios for over 30 years. Many of those years have been spent researching and collecting
radios made by the Crosley Radio Company.