At 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
Today’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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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
Pratt & 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.
The 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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On that December day in 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright could not have known what lay ahead in aircraft evolution. Even in the decade after that famous flight, there was little science or engineering that went into the development of planes, and many of these early planes either flew poorly or not at all. Now fast-forward to the modern era, a time when planes not only fly well, but transport people around the globe on a daily basis.
The Beginning of Aircraft Evolution
Among their many accomplishments, the Wright Brothers invented wind warping, which combined with yaw control, helped them control their aircraft. Using data obtained from experiments performed in the wind tunnel they built, they designed and carved wooden propellers. They then added a low-powered combustion engine to supply power to the plane. These factors enabled them to be the first men to fly on December 17, 1903, in Kitty Hawk, N.C. The Wright brothers continued to dominate aircraft evolution from 1903 to 1910. By 1914, planes had evolved to the point that they became instrumental during World War I.
World War I
Government laboratories greatly affected aircraft evolution, as the European nations realized the defense possibilities available through the use of aircraft. During World War I, engineers worked to design planes that would be successful in battle with little thought given to the comfort of the plane. The first aerial combat occurred in August 1914 when Allied and German pilots began shooting at each other with pistols and rifles, which were very ineffective. The first planes used during World War I were monoplanes, which were not fast or easily maneuvered, but allowed for a machine gun to be mounted and synchronized with the engine so that bullets passed between propeller blades.
World War II
Aircraft evolution increased rapidly after World War I, as governments realized the potential airplanes offered as a form of defense. Before the war, extensive manufacturing, engineering and research in the airplane industry created another aircraft evolution. Manufacturers focused on higher performance, speeds and altitudes, along with better maneuverability and handling. Planes became all metal, with retractable landing gear, wing flaps and enclosed crew compartments. During the war, heavy and light bombers, fighters, reconnaissance and transport planes made up the majority of the aircraft used. It was during this war that the air transport industry began to take shape.
The first aircraft built specifically for cargo was the German Arado Ar 232, but only a few were built. In 1939, a version of the Junkers Ju 90 military transport aircraft included the first rear-loading ramp, an important innovation in cargo aircraft. Cargo aircraft evolution continued with the C82 Packet, which featured a removable cargo area, and the creation of the turboprop.
Today’s aircraft is highly developed over the propeller-driven aircraft of previous generations, using turbojet and turbofan technology. Jet engines enable planes to be bigger, fly faster, and transport more passengers and cargo than any previous aircraft. After the popularity of the cargo plane, manufacturers realized that aircraft could be used to transport passengers, and the aircraft evolution to create bigger and better passenger planes began. Today, passenger flight is mainstream, with planes that are reliable, safe, and that endure all types of conditions.
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Unlike other amphibious planes designed for military use, the Grumman Goose began as a private venture. A group of wealthy Long Island executives simply wanted a way to get back and forth to Wall Street, and commissioned Grumman to build a plane that could take off from a local airstrip and land on water near New York’s financial district.
The Grumman Goose amphibious plane was the brainchild of a group of wealthy industrialists, which included Henry Morgan, Marshall Field and E.R. Harriman. The group lived in Long Island, commuting to Wall Street, which is surrounded by water. In 1936, they commissioned Grumman to build amphibious planes that would enable them to land on water near the financial district. One unique aspect of this amphibious aircraft was the liberal use of metal skin, as opposed to the conventional fabric and wood that was commonly used in plane construction immediately following World War I. Grumman designed a large interior for use as a transport or luxury airliner. Initially, the “flying yachts,” as these amphibious airplanes were known, carried two or three passengers, with a small bar and restroom.
World War II
During World War II, the Royal Canadian Air Force used the Grumman Goose amphibious planes for reconnaissance, rescue, transport, and training, while the Royal Air Force used the planes for air-sea rescues. The Royal Air Force designated the amphibian planes “Goose.” The planes were also used by the United States Army and Navy during the Second World War, as did the United States Coast Guard.
After the War
The Grumman Goose amphibious planes continued to be useful after World War II, mostly under the U.S. Department of the Interior in Alaska, where the versatility of the aircraft was put to the test in the rugged terrain of the state. The planes were also used as commuter aircraft in areas surrounded by water. McKinnon Enterprises made several modifications to the amphibian aircraft, with the final version known as the “Turbo Goose.”
Overall, 345 Grumman Goose amphibious planes were built and about 30 of them are still operational today. The amphibious aircraft was featured in the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Commando, as well as several television shows.
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One of the most popular lightweight aircraft created was the Piper J-3 Cub, which offered simplicity and affordability. Originally designed for flight training due to its tandem seating, the plane initially sold for $1,300 and was only available in one color – bright yellow trimmed in black. The color became so synonymous with the plane that it came to be known as “Cub Yellow.”
The original prototype for the Piper J-3 was the Taylor E-2 Cub, built in 1930 by Taylor Aircraft in Pennsylvania, and named after investor, William T. Piper. The lightweight aircraft had wings mounted high on the fuselage, an open cockpit and wooden wings. However, on Sept. 12, 1930, a test flight of the lightweight aircraft ended when it ran out of runway as the 20-horsepower “Tiger Kitten” engine was not strong enough to raise the plane more than five feet. Taylor Aircraft soon filed for bankruptcy, and Piper purchased the company in 1931 for $761, assuming the position of secretary-treasurer and keeping Gilbert Taylor in the role of president. Under the direction of a 19-year old designer, Walter Jamouneau, the company revamped and reintroduced the lightweight aircraft as the Taylor J-2 Cub while Taylor was on sick leave. Taylor hated the changes, firing Jamouneau on the spot. Piper, however, had authorized the changes and hired him back, instead buying out Taylor’s share in the company. Sales of the Taylor J-2 Cub were initially slow, and a fire at the Piper factory in 1938 ended production. Piper moved the company to Lock Haven, Pa., and the Piper J-3, featuring additional changes by Jamouneau, replaced the J-2.
World War II
The Piper J-3 became the primary trainer for the Civilian Pilot Training Program, designed to train pilots for possible entry into war effort in Europe. In fact, by the end of the war, 80 percent of all military pilots received their initial flight training in the Piper Cub. First lady Eleanor Roosevelt helped promote the Civilian Pilot Training Program by flying in a Piper Cub and posing for a series of publicity photos. There are many photos of World War II leaders, including Gens. Dwight D. Eisenhower, George Patton and George Marshall, flying around European battlefields in these lightweight aircraft.
Today, modernized versions of the Piper J-3 Cub are produced by Cub Crafters of Washington and by American Legend Aircraft in Texas, as the lightweight aircraft continues to be popular among bush pilots. Original versions of the Cub are still flying as well. Because original versions of the plane have no electrics, some pilots have difficulty finding airports that can accommodate such planes. The plane also fills with fuel similar to the way an automobile fills, so gas tanks must be fitted with fuel nozzles that allow for that type of fueling.
From a unique beginning to extensive training of military pilots during World War II, the Piper J-3 Cub is one of the most popular lightweight aircraft in existence. In fact, the plane is so popular among radio-controlled aircraft hobbyists, manufacturers of remote-controlled airplane supplies produce Cub Yellow shrinkable iron-on covering film and fabrics regularly.
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One popular military transport aircraft, the C-130, is a four-engine turboprop plane designed and built by Lockheed. One of the key benefits of the C-130 is its ability to use unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, making it suitable for a variety of military uses. In service since the 1950s in the United States, this plane spotlight on the C-130 provides history, descriptions and information about this popular military transport aircraft.
History of the C-130
When the Korean War began in 1950, World War II-era piston-engine transport planes were found to be inadequate for modern warfare, prompting the U.S. Air Force to request designs from several aircraft manufacturers for a military transport aircraft that held more passengers, had a larger cargo area, and offered a loading ramp from the rear of the fuselage. The key feature of the design was the T56 turboprop, first developed specifically for the C-130. Kelly Johnson, the chief research engineer at Lockheed, did not like the low-speed, unarmed aircraft, stating that the design would “destroy the Lockheed Company.” However, the company won the contract over Boeing, Douglas, Fairchild, Martin, Chase Aircraft, North American, Northrop, and Airlifts in 1951.
The first C-130s were delivered in 1956 to the 463d Troop Carrier Wing at Ardmore Air Force Base in Oklahoma, as well as the 314th Troop Carrier Wing at Stewart Air Force Base in Tennessee. The military transport aircraft began its military career doing intelligence work, with the first being shot down over Armenia in 1958. A C-130 still holds the record for the largest and heaviest aircraft to ever land on an aircraft carrier, a record that has stood since 1963. Lt. James H. Flatley III of the U.S. Navy made 29 touch-and-go, 21 unarrested full-stop landings, and 21 unassisted take-offs on the USS Florestal to set the record. Lt. Flatley earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for his efforts. In addition, the C-130 was instrumental in reconnaissance/strike missions during the Vietnam War.
In 1958, the U.S. Marine Corps procured C-130s with a removable 3,600-gallon stainless steel fuel tank that is carried inside the cargo compartment. Hoses and fuel nozzles allow the transfer of up to 300 gallons of fuel per minute to two aircraft simultaneously, creating a military transport aircraft that provides rapid cycle times of multiple-receiver aircraft formations.
The C-130 is an important military transport aircraft, providing fueling services, reconnaissance and air strike assistance to troops throughout the world.
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During World War II, the popularity of flying boats increased, as the seaplanes could land on water and land, allowing military branches to deliver cargo or personnel in areas where they otherwise could not. Although some of the last flying boats were designed for military use, the era of the seaplane ended after the Second World War.
One of the most famous flying boats in history is the Hughes HK-1 Hercules. More commonly known as Howard Hughes’ famous “Spruce Goose,” the plane was originally designed as a cargo and troop carrier, made of wood rather than metal, to avoid using critical wartime materials. The plane was nicknamed the “Spruce Goose” after a U.S. senator called the plane a “flying lumberyard.”
Conceived by Henry J. Kaiser, a steelmaker and shipbuilder, this plane was designed and built by Howard Hughes and his staff. Though this plane was three times larger than the largest plane built before it, Hughes continued to meddle with the design, making the plane more complicated and delaying the process. Kaiser dropped out of the project, while Hughes continued to work on the flying boat which eventually cost the U.S. government $22 million and Hughes himself $18 million.
On November 2, 1947, the Hughes HK-1 Hercules took its first and only flight with Hughes at the controls. The plane flew one mile in less than one minute, 33 feet off the surface of the Los Angeles Harbor at 80 miles per hour before making a perfect landing. The plane returned to its specially designed harbor, and maintained in flight-ready condition until Howard Hughes died in 1976. Donated to the Aero Club of Southern California, the plane is now on display in a specially constructed facility at the Evergreen Aviation Educational Center in McMinnville, Oregon.
One of the last flying boats developed was the Saunders-Roe Princess, at the request of the British Ministry of Supply, which wanted a long-range civil flying boat for British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) in 1945. In 1951, BOAC determined it had no need for the Princess, but construction of the aircraft continued as it would be used to transport aircraft for the Royal Air Force. Of the three aircraft requested, only one of the flying boats flew, on August 22, 1952. Production was terminated, and, although Aquila Airways offered £1 million for each of the Princess flying boats in 1954, Saunders-Roe rejected the offer and the three aircraft were cocooned in hopes a buyer would be found. In 1964, the flying boats were finally purchased by Eoin Mekie for Aero Spacelines for use as heavy-duty freight aircraft for transporting rocket components. However, when the cocooning was removed, the airframes were badly deteriorated as the maintenance and inspection of the stored aircraft had been allowed to lapse. All three planes were broken up by 1967.
End of an Era
The flying boat era came after World War II. Because flying boats were designed to meet landing requirements where runways were not long enough for larger airlines, the need for seaplanes was drastically reduced after runway improvements at most airlines. In addition, navigation aids on regular planes were minimal, making it difficult for planes to land in crosswinds. Aviators also found that after World War II, long runways on ex-military bases and the many surplus planes available from the military made the need for flying boats unnecessary.
For more information on seaplanes, or to learn more about the engine repair services we can provide for your aircraft, call Covington Aircraft at (918) 756-8320. You can also join us on LinkedIn and Twitter.
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Although relatively unknown by the public, flying boats have served many purposes through the years, including military operations, exploration, and mail delivery. Deutsch Luft Hansa (DLH) was instrumental in creating ship-to-shore mail delivery, which led to trans-Atlantic mail flights by 1937.
In 1937, DLH ordered three of the Do.26 flying boats for trans-Atlantic mail flights. The Do.26, called the “most beautiful flying boat ever built,” were sleek four-engine planes whose floats retracted to increase plane speed. Although completed prior to the outbreak of World War II, United States opposition kept DLH from operating the aircraft on the intended flights. Instead, the company operated the planes to carry mail between Bathurst and Natal in South Africa. During World War II, the flying boats entered military service, with three additional Do.26 planes built for use by the military.
Sikorsky S-43 Feeder Airplane
Known as the “Baby Clipper,” the Sikorsky S-43 flying boat was a smaller version of the Sikorsky S-42. The plane carried between 18 and 25 passengers, as well as a two-person crew. Pan Am used the S-43 for flights to Cuba and Latin America, while Reeve Aleutian Airways in Alaska and Inter-Island Airways of Hawaii used the flying boat to transport passengers. The U.S. Army Air Corps purchased five of the aircraft, the U.S. Navy purchased 17, and the Marine Corps used two of the aircraft. Designed for short routes with low-passenger numbers, the plane had a range of 775 miles and a maximum speed of 190 miles per hour.
Built by the Glenn M. Martin Company in Baltimore for Pan Am, the three M-130 flying boats purchased by the company joined Pan Am’s “Clipper” line, although all three of the planes were given different names. On November 22, 1935, the “China Clipper” flew the first trans-Pacific airmail route. On October 14, 1936, the “Philippine Clipper” began passenger service between the United States and Hong Kong, while the “Hawaii Clipper” offered service between California and the Philippines. In July 1938, the “Hawaii Clipper” disappeared on a flight between Guam and Manila, losing nine crew and six passengers. The “Philippine Clipper” survived the Japanese attack on Wake Island but crashed into a mountain in January 1943, killing 19 people. The “China Clipper” broke apart and sank at the Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago during landing on January 23, 1945, killing 23 people.
The original Douglas Dolphin, then known as the Sinbad, was a true flying boat, as it had no wheels and could land only on water. Designed as a luxurious flying yacht in 1930, Douglas Aircraft Company found limited demand for the plane due to the Great Depression. However, in 1931, the company improved the Sinbad, making it amphibious, and renamed it the “Dolphin.” The United States Coast Guard purchased not only the Sinbad, but twelve dolphins as well. Eventually, two of the flying boats became the property of Wilmington-Catalina Airlines, who used the planes to fly passengers between Los Angeles and Santa Catalina Island. The majority of these seaplanes, however, transported wealthy industrialists, including William Boeing, Philip K. Wrigley and William Vanderbilt. One plane was procured by the U.S. Navy to transport President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and although Roosevelt never used the plane, it was the first aircraft purchased for use by a sitting U.S. president.
Short S-23 Empire of QANTAS
Used to carry passengers and mail between Britain and the British Colonies located in Africa, Asia and Australia, the Short S-23 Empire flying boat became known as the Empire “C” Class. The British Empire companies, QANTAS, which served Australia, TEAL, which served New Zealand, and Imperial, which served Britain, named each Short S-23 with a “C” name in recognition of the aircraft class. The planes, used in military operations during World War II, primarily for anti-submarine and transport purposes, had less range than the Sikorsky flying boats. This meant they were unable to provide trans-Atlantic service.
Aviation designers continued to develop better trans-Atlantic flying boats in an effort to improve passenger and mail transport across oceans. For more information on seaplanes, or to learn more about engine repair services, call Covington Aircraft at 918-756-8320. You can also join us on LinkedIn and Twitter.
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Seaplanes are fixed-wing aircraft that can take off and land on water, and there are two categories of seaplanes: floatplanes and flying boats. Pontoons under a floatplane keep the plane afloat, and the fuselage sits above the water. In a flying boat, the plane is kept afloat with the fuselage, similar to the hull of a ship. Flying boats, which were used extensively during World War I, have a rich history.
The Early Days
On March 28, 1910, the Canard, took off from water with pilot Henri Fabre at the controls, making it the first successful water take-off in history. The historic flying boat take-off took place near Martigues, located in the Mediterranean Sea, and the fifty-horsepower rotary engine flew the craft 1,650 feet over water. However, historians consider Glen Curtiss the father of the flying boat. Curtiss flying boats were the only U.S.-designated airplanes to see combat during World War I. After the war, airlines recognized the potential for commercial use of the flying boat.
Boeing’s B-1 flying boat, a pusher-style flying boat with a rear engine, had a range of 400 miles and a cruising speed of 80 miles per hour. The plane could carry a pilot and two passengers, and had room for mail or cargo. The first flight of the Boeing B-1 was December 27, 1919, but Boeing only built one plane, as the market was flooded with war-surplus aircraft. In 1920, Edward Hubbard purchased the plane and used it to carry mail between Seattle and Victoria, British Columbia. The plane is now on display in Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry.
Designed as a cross between a houseboat and plane, the Caproni Triplane flying boat was one of the largest seaplanes ever built. The plane used three sets of triplane wings taken from World War I bombers attached to a 100-passenger flying boat hull. Powered by eight 400-hp engines, the plan was to carry 100 passengers as well as six pilots and flight engineers. However, on the plane’s second flight in 1921, it crashed into a lake, killing both pilots, which led designers to scrap the design.
Levy Flying Boat
A three-seat French biplane, the Levy Flying Boat, also known as the Levy-Le Pen, is considered the best French amphibious aircraft of World War I. The plane gained popularity in Africa where Ligne Aerienne du Roi Albert used a version of the flying boat to carry 2-passenger loads throughout the African Congo. In fact, the Levy-LePen Type R helped inaugurate many airline routes throughout Africa in the early 1900s.
Built for use by the military, the Curtiss F-5 flying boat became the U.S. Navy’s standard patrol aircraft until 1928. Known as the Aeromarine 75 in civil use, Aeromaritime Airways flew flights from Key West to Havana, carrying the first international airmail. In 1920, American Trans-Oceanic Company flew anglers from Miami to Bimini in a Curtiss F-5 painted like a fish. The plane had a range of 830 miles and was powered by two liberty 400-hp engines.
The world’s first all-metal transport aircraft, the Junkers F-13 seaplane offered enclosed travel for passengers. Considered the first modern commercial aircraft, the flying boat was often called an air limousine due to its luxurious interior. The flying boats were often used for transport between seaports or for longer flights over water. Finnair began using Junkers F-13 planes in 1926. One benefit to the Junkers F-13 was that the landplane version could be fitted with floats to become a seaplane or with skis to become a snow plane.
The first stressed-skin, metal-hulled flying boat, the Short Calcutta design answered a need for Imperial Airways for air service to the Mediterranean to and from India. The plane, powered by three engines mounted between the wings, carried 15 passengers and two pilots. The first flight of the Calcutta, on February 14, 1928, took place after the aircraft had been left mooring overnight to test the hull for leaks. Seven flying boats were built for commercial use, and a military version, known as the Short Rangoon, was also created.
These flying boats represented the beginning of the long and colorful history of the flying boat. For more information on seaplanes, or to learn more about the engine repair services we can provide for your aircraft, call Covington Aircraft at 918-756-8320. You can also join us on LinkedIn and Twitter.