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 Pratt & Whitney
In 1925, Frederick Rentschler established the Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Company in Hartford, and Connecticut. Former president of the Wright Aeronautical Corporation of New Jersey, Rentschler was an astute businessman and visionary. Rentschler believed that the future of aviation lay in aircraft capable of carrying a large number of passengers’ great distances at ever-faster speeds. To do so required a more reliable, more powerful aircraft engine than was currently available, and this was where Rentschler focused his energies.
Within a year, Rentschler and his team had designed the air-cooled, radial Wasp engine, which together with its successor, the Hornet, provided increased power and reliability at a low relative weight. Both engines proved extremely successful. By 1929, Pratt & Whitney Aircraft had outgrown its Capitol Avenue plant in Hartford, and Rentschler moved the company to new headquarters on a 1,100-acre site in East Hartford, which included room for further expansion and an airfield to flight test his engines. Pratt & Whitney Aircraft was on its way to becoming one of the state’s largest employers.
Air power played a significant role in the Allied victory during World War II, and Pratt & Whitney Aircraft supplied much of that power. By the end of the war, Pratt & Whitney Aircraft had produced more than 350,000 engines for military use - more in number than any other American manufacturer and, in total horsepower, one half that of America’s combat air forces. In the meantime, Pratt & Whitney Aircraft became a division of the United Aircraft Corporation, which also manufactured the latest in aviation technology, the helicopter, invented by Igor Sikorsky in 1939.
During the post-war decades, Pratt & Whitney Aircraft continued to manufacture aircraft engines for commercial use and was also involved in the development of jet engines. During the 1950s, when government optimism in the peaceful uses of nuclear power was at its peak, Pratt & Whitney even investigated the possibility of using nuclear power in commercial aircraft at its Connecticut Aircraft Nuclear Engine Laboratory in Middletown.

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