Category Archives: Aviation History

What’s That Silver Plane in the Air? Air Canada’s Lockheed 10-A Takes to the Skies to Mark the Airline’s 80th Anniversary

In honor of Air Canada’s 80th anniversary, Air Canada’s Lockheed 10A vintage aircraft took to the skies across Canada. After taking from Vancouver, BC, the L-10A made overnight stops as well as fuel stops at airports across Canada, and was on public display at the Royal Aviation Museum in Winnipeg on September 13 and 14. More information is at: http://www.royalaviationmuseum.com.

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The History of the Pratt & Whitney R-985 & The List of Aircraft Powered by the Radial Engine

The Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Junior is a series of nine-cylinder, air-cooled, radial aircraft engines built by the Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Company from the 1930s to the 1950s. These engines have a displacement of 985 in; initial versions produced 300 hp (220 kW), while the most widely used versions produce 450 hp (340 kW).

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What is the Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp & List of R-1340 Powered Aircraft

The Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp was a 9 cylinder, single-row, air-cooled radial engine with horsepower ranging from 410 hp to 600 hp, depending on the model and configuration. It was used in a range of aircraft that included the North American AT-6, Boeing P-26, and Boeing 247. Jimmy Doolittle used the Wasp to set records in his Gee Bee Racer and Amelia Earhart made history using the Wasp in her Electra L-10.

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The History & Story of the R-985 Powered Boeing PT-17 Stearman

Climbing over the narrow, wing-root walkway and stepping on to the cushioned seat of the tandem, two-place, blue and yellow fabric-covered open-cockpit Boeing PT-17 Stearman registered N55171 in Stow, Massachusetts, I lowered myself into position with the aid of the two upper wing trailing edge hand grips and fastened the olive-green waist and shoulder harnesses.  Donning era-prerequisite goggles and helmet, I surveyed the fully duplicated instrumentation before me and prepared myself both for an aerial sightseeing fight of Massachusetts and a brief, although temporary, return to World War II primary flight training skies.

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A History Of King Air

A History Of King AirOne of the most storied and famous of Beechcraft’s lines is the King Air.  This aircraft family is comprised of many different lines of twin-turbopop aircraft including the Model 90 and the Model 100 series. Beechcraft’s King Air continues to be one of the very best selling models of aircraft in history, and has managed to outsell all other twin-turbopop competitors combined. The history of the King Air series began all the way back in 1961, and the King Air has grown in innovation and technology throughout the years while still upholding its respected name.  
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Beechcraft Innovations

Beechcraft Innovations Throughout its 84 year long history, Beechcraft has brought to the table some of the most innovative designs and concepts in the aviation industry. With such a storied history, Beechcraft has seen some hits and some misses in its 84 years, but continues to push the envelope when it comes to aviation design up until this day. From designing planes used in the fighting during the second world war, to those made for personal use, to regional aircrafts, the history of Beechcraft is a fascinating one for anyone interested in modern day aviation. Continue reading Beechcraft Innovations

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What It Means To Be An Internationally Recognized Distributor & Designated Overhaul Facility

What It Means To Be An Internationally Recognized DistributorAt Covington Aircraft, we sure have carved out our little niche. If you take a tour of our easy to use website, then you will recognize that there isn’t a whole lot of history listed. You won’t read any articles about how the company started. You won’t see how Covington Aircraft has slowly grown into an internationally recognized authority on the PT6A, R-985 and R-1340 small aircraft engines. You won’t read about how the company invest in people first, reaching out to charitable endeavors all over the world. Continue reading What It Means To Be An Internationally Recognized Distributor & Designated Overhaul Facility

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What Are The Covington Aircraft “Missions”? Find Out & Join Us

The Covington Aircraft MissionToday’s economic climate can be downright poisonous. It can feel like large companies take advantage, making profits a priority over people. That is why it is such a breath of fresh air to see a company like Covington Aircraft. The business puts people first, no matter what, especially when it comes to furthering Christ and the gospel. Continue reading What Are The Covington Aircraft “Missions”? Find Out & Join Us

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PT6 Celebrates Fifty Years Part 1

When it was developed in 1963, the PT6 was the first turboprop engine rated at 450 shaft horsepower, impressing Beechcraft to the point that the company chose to install the engine in their King Air line of turboprop twins.  Fast-forward 50 years, and Beechcraft still choose the PT6, although of ever-increasing power ratings, to power their engines.

 Before The PT6

beechcraftPratt & Whitney began development of the PT6 in the late 1950’s in an attempt to replace the manufacturer’s Wasp radial engines, developed during in the 1930’s.  In 1925, Frederick Rentschler, President of Wright Aeronautical, approached his brother, Gordon, and Edward Deeds, who were both on the board of Niles Bement Pond, convincing them that Pratt & Whitney Machine Tool, a subsidiary of Niles, should fund the creation of a new aircraft engine Rentschler and a colleage, George Mead, were developing.  The engine was to be a large, air-cooled radial design.  The executives at Pratt & Whitney saw an opportunity for growth and lent Rentschler $250,000, the use of the Pratt & Whitney name and space in their building to begin creating the new engine.  Rentschler left Wright Aeronautical and took over operations of Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Division, The first of the Wasp series debuted on December 24, 1925, quickly becoming one of the most widely used aircraft engines in the industry due to their superior speed, rate of climb and reliability.  Charles Lindbergh and Ameila Earhart both set records in Wasp-powered aircraft.

Wasp to Hornet

 With the development of the PT6 still a few decades away, Pratt & Whitney created the next line of radial engines, the Hornet, rated at 525 horsepower.  The dependability of both the Wasp and the Hornet made them very popular among commercial aircraft, and as the public use of air travel increased, so did the demand for Pratt & Whitney engines.  As it became apparent that the United States would enter World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called on manufacturers to produce 50,000 aircraft a year for military use, requiring Pratt & Whitney to expand its workforce from 3,000 to 40,000.  Throughout the war, Pratt & Whitney continued to innovate, until, by the end of the war, their largest engine provided 3,600 horsepower.  However, radial engines were slowly being replaced by lighter turboprop engines.

Vision of the PT6

In 1957, Pratt & Whitney saw an opportunity to channel profits from the piston engine spare parts business to the development of smaller gas turbine engines than those currently being manufactured in the United States. The company gathered a team of 12 young engineers after conducting market studies that found there was a need for a 500 shaft horsepower engine that could replace piston engines, such as the Wasp and Hornet.  In December 1963, Pratt & Whitney shipped the first of the PT6 series, the PT6A-6, a highly innovative gas turbine representing technology advances that were significant at the time.  Because gas turbines have a higher power to weight ratio than piston engines, the PT6 was perfect for aviation engines.

pt6aThe PT6 has enjoyed a rich and colorful history since it began production in 1963, and Pratt & Whitney is proud to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this timeless aircraft engine.  Learn more about the colorful past, pioneers who flew this engine and continuing evolution of an engine ahead of its time.  For more information on the PT6 or about aircraft maintenance, contact Covington Aircraft online or by telephone today.

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