50 years ago: 09 May 1956

London
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Flight 4.5.1956

Pioneer dies

We record with regret the death, on April 25th, of Mr. Frederick B. Rentschler, the founder of the Wright and Pratt and Whitney engine companies and chairman of the United Aircraft Corporation. He was 68. During World War 1 he was appointed a government representative at the Wright-Martin engine plant at New Brunswick. Soon after Armistice Mr. Rentschler formed the 50 years tnWright Aeronautical Corporation, became its first general manager and vice-president, and soon thereafter president. In 1924, for family reasons, he resigned as president. In spring of 1925 Rentschler learned that the Navy wanted a dependable radial of 400 h.p., weighing less than 600 Ib or less. In Hartford was a factory then being used as a tobacco warehouse. Rentschler arranged a loan of $250,000, secured the plant and with George J. Mead formed the Pratt and Whitney Aircraft Company. By December 1925 the new engine – the Wasp – was running. Although first Wasp sales were to the Navy, the engine attracted attention elsewhere. The Boeing company, for instance, bought 24 for a new mail and passenger machine. In October 1928, Pratt and Whitney joined in a merger with Boeing and Boeing Airlines to form the United Aircraft and Transport Corporation. Rentschler became president, and out of the dissolution of the corporation came three companies – Boeing Airplane, United Airlines and United Aircraft Corporation. A United Aircraft spokesman remarks: “Mr Rentschler, in 1935, became chairman of this company, which continues today much as it was set up then.” In 1951, the French Government made Mr. Rentschler an officer of the Legion of Honour. Trinity College of Hartford, Connecticut, conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Laws as the man “who helped America to gain air supremacy.”

Lufthansa order

As predicted in Flight for March 23rd, Deutsche Lufthansa has placed an order with Boeing for four 707-320 jet airliners. The first three will be delivered in time for summer services in 1960.