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MANAGEMENT IN AVIATION HISTORY BENCH MARKS


Mechanically inclined, Harry and Martin modified machinery, and tinkered with motorcycle engines. They built a powered snow and ice sled in which they sped over local frozen lakes. When they wrecked their purchased propeller they decided to make one of their own to replace it. Several years ago on the telephone with Harry’s son, Gary Sensenich, he told me that “They did their chores at the diary during the day and carved their propeller at night in the barn.” By 1932, the brothers incorporated their own manufacturing company creating customized wood propellers for dozens of new aircraft companies including another team of brothers, C.G. and Gordon Taylor of Taylorcraft in Bradford, PA. In 1931, Taylors designed their first “Cub.” For a propeller on the nose of the Taylor Cub’s 40hp engine, they hired the Sensenich brothers. In his book, The Taylorcraft Story, historian Chet Peek wrote; “more than once the Sensenich brothers packed up their tools and drove 500 miles round trip to Bradford and carved the prop on the spot.”


Due to the need for pilot training planes during WWII, Sensenich increased from 65 to over 400 employees. In 1944, a third brother, Amos, supervised their propeller repair plant in Glendale, California. Harry and Martin managed their plant like a family, often hiring brothers and cousins. They boosted company morale with picnics, Christmas parties, and a folksy employee newsletter. After the war, they began refurbishing their own propellers as well as those made by Hamilton Standard and others.


This page is from a sale brochure authored by Rachele Jazuzzi, entitled “Airplane Propellers – Made by Jacuzzi Brothers, 1450 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, California” in ~1915. From the collection of Bill Lewis.


In the 1920s, barnstormers flew from town to town selling rides in their WWI surplus aircraft which were made of wood and fabric with an open cockpit. Lancaster’s residents were inspired to build a municipal airport, and it didn’t take long for the Sensenich brothers to become air-minded.


22 DOMmagazine.com | dec 2017 | jan 2018


THE SENSENICH LEGACY In 1989 Sensenich was purchased by The Philadelphia


Bourse, Inc. where manufacturing operations continue. In 1994 Sensenich’s wood propeller division moved to Plant City, Florida where today they continue to make aircraft propellers as well as for swamp (air) boats and UAVs (drones). The entire process of making a wood propeller continues to fascinate me as I re-read my interview notes from 2010:


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