The Surprising Past Of The PT6

The Surprising Past Of The PT6By now, you’re probably at least vaguely aware of the PT6 and its impact on aviation. As the single most popular engine in its class, this turboprop is found in literally thousands of aircraft throughout the world. Manufactured by Pratt and Whitney, the PT6 began its life in the 60s as the ST6. This was essentially an industrial version of the current model, but one that delivered the same high levels of performance and reliability that are still associated with the engine to this day.

The PT6 has always been associated with aircraft, but it was also used in a number of other applications that could surprise you.


That’s right! All the way back in 1966, the ST6 was featured in a racing boat that used twin engines and a pair of truck transmissions. The boat topped out at 109 km per hour and actually won one of the most challenging races of the time.

Indy Race Cars

If you think the PT6 is powerful in an aircraft, you should see it in a racing car. The ST6 was implemented in an Indy car in 1967, where it performed incredibly well – the car lost the race due to a cheap transmission bearing failure after leading the race throughout its duration. This was short-lived, and in 1968 the USAC banned the use of turbine engines in cars.


The Turbo Train was unveiled in 1967 as a way to move travelers quickly between New York and Boston, and was able to reach speeds of up to 193 km per hour thanks to its powerful engines – modified versions of the ST6.


The ST6 was indeed included in the design of an early hovercraft, delivering the kind of high powers and reliability needed to propel the experimental vehicle properly.

The Jett Vett

Perhaps no other vehicle turned as many heads when it was unveiled in 1978 as the Jet Vett. This is literally a custom made Corvette with a PT6 as its engine. While it has to fuel up at the airport with jet fuel, the vehicle can reach speeds of as high as 320 km per hour, blowing most supercars out of the water.

To learn more about these and other applications of the PT6 engine throughout history, feel free to visit the official PT6 website here. It could help you understand just how versatile and well-regarded this engine has been over the years.

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