Monday, August 17, 2009

Pratt & Whitney Aircraft

Pratt & Whitney Aircraft manufactures aircraft engines. On their famous logo with the Eagle it says: “Dependable Engines”. In later years the company had the following slogan: “The Eagle means Business”. They have been manufacturing engines (piston and jet) since 1925. The man who started it was Frederick Brant Rentschler. And you thought the company was started by two people named Pratt and Whitney!

Well the Pratt & Whitney Aircraft story is a fairly long and convoluted one. Rentschler founded Wright Aeronautical. Wright Aeronautical was previously Wright-Martin. Wright-Martin was a merger of the Glenn L. Martin Company and the Wright Company which occurred in 1916. Wright Company was created by Orville and Wilbur Wright. Glenn Martin resigned from Wright-Martin in 1917. The company was renamed Wright Aeronautical in 1919. The Wright “Whirlwind” engine was used on the plane that the famed aviator Charles Lindbergh flew solo nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean on May 21, 1927. Then in 1924 Rentschler left Wright Aeronautical with some engineers after a dispute regarding funding for an air-cooled engine which the government requested development of. So Rentschler headed to Connecticut to Pratt & Whitney which at the time was called the “Pratt & Whitney Machine Tool Company”. It was founded in 1860 by Francis A. Pratt and Amos Whitney (a cousin of Eli Whitney). They were located in Hartford, Connecticut. Pratt & Whitney provided funds, building facilities, and even their name. Pratt & Whitney Aircraft was incorporated in 1925.

The following is but a short list of well-known aircraft that have had Pratt & Whitney engines installed on them:

B-52 Stratofortress (1952) - the J57
Boeing 707 (1958) - the JT3
SR-71 Blackbird (1964) - the J58
Boeing 747 (1966) - the JT9D
F-15 Eagle (1970) - the F100
Boeing 727 (1980) - the JT8D
Boeing 747 (1987) - the PW4000
Boeing 777 (1989) - the PW4084
F/A-22 Raptor (1991) - the F119

Pratt & Whitney Aircraft manufactured 363,610 piston aircraft engines during World War II which was nearly half of all the engines produced.

Charles Lindbergh was once employed at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft The desk he used can be seen at the Pratt & Whitney Museum in Hartford, CT. Connecticut’s economy relies in large part on the Defense Industry and Pratt & Whitney Aircraft is the states largest private employer.

Over the years Pratt & Whitney Aircraft has made engines that have been installed in a large variety of civil and military aircraft. They have also made engines (both piston and jet) that have been used to generate electrical power on the ground. There power plants have been installed in U.S. Navy ships. They even in had small helicopter turbine engines installed on Indy and Formula One racing cars. Pratt & Whitney Aircraft also has a division in Canada that was founded in 1928. It makes turboprop engines for small aircraft.

In 1929 Rentschler incorporated the company called: “United Aircraft and Transport Company”. The creation of United Airlines came about from this company. United Aircraft and Transport Company then became United Aircraft Corporation which was comprised of the following four companies: Pratt & Whitney, Vought Aircraft (from Chance Vought – another aviation legend – but this company left in 1954), Sikorsky Aircraft (from famed helicopter inventor Igor Sikorsky), and Hamilton-Standard which makes propellers. Then in 1975 United Aircraft Corporation became the United Technologies Corporation which we know today. United Technologies Corporation or UTC also has Carrier (air conditioning and refrigeration) and Otis (elevators) as business units.

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