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 motivation.
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
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 Group.
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 saw.
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
"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
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
Headlines in the various papers read, "Gasless Motor Tested
for Lindy," "Lindy Inspects Fuelless Motor for Airplanes", and
"Lindbergh Tries Motor That The Earth Runs."
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, Major Lanphier.
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 fairy's
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 be ridiculed.
When approached with the accusations, my Father smiled and
told reporters, "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 life!
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
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
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 sight.
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
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 your Generator."
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 Tokyo).
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
He said, "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 Angeles?"
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
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 life.
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
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
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
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
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 present
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