Herman Nelson Heater

If you are not familiar with the term “Herman Nelson” heater, then you are lucky. It’s an industrial heating system widely used in aviation, among other applications, to quickly heat hangars and aircraft. When I was flying the Skycranes, I often found myself becoming intimately familiar with this piece of equipment. The Skycrane is not a big fan of the cold. Once it dips below freezing for long periods of time, she does better if you warm her many gearboxes and electronics up first before you start her up.

And you know who else isn’t a big fan of the cold? It’s me! I am sure there is a reason I prefer flying fires over other helicopter work. Most fires happen when it’s warm. “But you’re from Austria” some of you might say. That might me true, but I have lived in warm climates for 23 years now. It would take a lot of adjusting to go back to dealing with “the seasons” again.

One thing we never tried is to warm up leftover pizza, but some of these heaters put out enough heat that it just might work out fine. They are a fine machine when they work.

Herman Nelson Heater
A Herman Nelson heater in action.

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10 comments on “Herman Nelson Heater
  1. domspy says:

    I used to live and fly in northern Canada, the company I worked for kept all their planes outside all day and all night. I got intimately familiar with the ol’ Herman. Now I work for a company that keeps their planes in the heater hangar all night… It’s the best. I don’t miss dealing with freezing cold planes every morning…

  2. mike says:

    I know how that feels, domspy. The problem we had with the Crane was finding hangar space. Anytime we could, we’d find a hangar. One year in Canada, when it was -35F outside, they charged us extra for every time we opened the hangar door as well because it took a lot of time and money to heat it back up. HAHA!
    And it was so cold we had one guy sit in the aircraft as it was getting towed out so that he can start the APU the second we cleared the hangar doors…..

  3. Flying Wrench says:

    That pizza is going to taste like gasoline and misery…

  4. Magnoire says:

    Wow! And I thought heating our pizza with the stage lighting back when I worked in theaters was weird. BTW, I love the cold and lived my entire life in the Deep South. We had snow last Friday! It lasted almost an entire day! Everything shut down and I had a day off from work.

  5. Quill says:

    This is just a larger version of one of my dorm survival tactics: A heat gun (a tool anyone with notable mechanical experience, probably most pilots, is familiar with) is excellent at toasting marshmallows. May not be as nostalgic, but I could get them a perfect golden-brown far easier and more consistently than I could over a fire. Also effective for toasting bagels, could probably be useful for a wide range of other cooking. Gives me an idea – someone should write a cookbook on cooking using shop/hangar tools. Possibly another book on cooking on vehicle (aircraft and car) engines. Need to work on that one though, I was unsuccessful in my attempts to bake a potato on my old VW Bug’s engine.

  6. Fotojunky says:

    Dorm cooking… heating water in the coffeemaker for instant soup😋
    Heating pizza in the toaster…

    I was never a tool-for-food kind of guy.

  7. jan olieslagers says:

    What fuel does it use? AvGas or Jet or road diesel or ..?

  8. Darren says:

    You might have seen them used on ice pilots…lots more cold times than anthing

  9. Bat Rastard says:

    Can I use one of these in my 3 car garage?

  10. Toby Carson says:

    Jan: They run on motor gasoline. Some run on diesel fuel.

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