Itasca Hot Air Meet

By Staff
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Ole Berge explains his experimental pressurized hot air engine to model maker Neal James. Note the small Lowe model in Neal's hand.
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Young hot air enthusiast Ben Sahlstrom exhibited and ran his steam toys and hot air fan at the show.

It was another gathering of hot air engine enthusiasts at Lake
Itasca, Minn., Aug. 16-18, 2002, and Ole and Wally Berge were once
again gracious hosts to attendees who came in from as far away as
Oregon, California and Canada.

Delbert Berge helps Jerry Swedberg assemble Jerry’s
Otto-Langen atmospheric engine. The Otto-Langen, while quite
inefficient, was the first successful internal combustion

The Lake Itasca Region Pioneer Farmers Association provides the
location and sponsors the show, so along with the hot air engines,
attendees could also enjoy fine displays of vintage equipment
including steam engines, gas engines, steam trains, tractors, a
blacksmith shop and many other exhibits and activities – not to
mention the fine food and entertainment. All of the hot air engine
enthusiasts give a special thanks for the great hospitality
provided by the Lake Itasca Region Pioneer Farmers, together with
the timeless hours spent by Ole and Wally in hosting this annual

The hot air hobby is centered on vintage technology, and as such
there’s concern about the hobby’s future. Will there be new
interest from a younger crowd? At Lake Itasca, we were pleased to
see Ole and Wally’s great-grandson, Ben Sahlstrom, operating
his steam toys and his hot air fan, and it’s comforting to see
the tradition continuing in young people like Ben. And a chance
conversation on a recent plane trip with a young man from Winnipeg,
Canada, sparked an old interest of his in vintage technology and in
Stirling cycle engines. After our conversation, that young man
decided to attend the Lake Itasca meet, and he was so enthused by
what he saw that he wants to build a hot air engine and bring it to
the Aug. 15-17, 2003, Lake Itasca International Hot Air Rally.

Yes, I did say International Rally. 2003 will be the ‘big
one.’ Participants are expected from all over the U.S.,
England, Germany and perhaps other countries. Most hot air
enthusiasts will make a special effort to attend the 2003 rally,
and if you’re interested in hot air engines you should plan to
attend. It promises to be the largest gathering of vintage, model
and experimental hot air engines and hot air fans ever seen in one
place. You will not be disappointed.

Contact engine enthusiast Lowell J. Wagner at: 8 Arroyo
Bonito, Sandia Park, NM 87047, (505) 281-1624; e-mail:

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