A quality-controlled data set comprising measurements of aeolian sand transport rates obtained at three disparate field sites is used to evaluate six commonly employed transport rate models (those of Bagnold, Kawamura, Zingg, Owen, Hsu, and Lettau and Lettau) and to recalibrate the empirical constants in those models. Shear velocity estimates were obtained using the von Kármán constant and an apparent von Kármán parameter. Models were recalibrated using non-linear regression and non-linear regression with least-squares lines forced through axes origins. Recalibration using the apparent von Kármán parameter and forced regression reduced the empirical constants for all models. The disparity between the predictions from the different models is reduced from about an order of magnitude to about a quarter of an order of magnitude. The recalibrated Lettau and Lettau model provided the greatest statistical agreement between observed and predicted transport rates, with a coefficient of determination of 0·77. Evaluation of the results suggests that our estimations of threshold shear velocity may be too slow, causing errors in predicted transport rates. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.