Celebrating Aviation with Some Thunder
A company's success is often tied to its ability to innovate – execute – and then continually support its customers.
The Pratt & Whitney museum is the perfect example of a company doing that for more than 90 years. And our idea of going beyond – pushing the limits for that next step – continues to this day.
Seeing that this month we celebrate National Aviation Day, we chose to take a closer look at one of our engine programs powering military jets for more than 40 years.
So let's talk adrenaline. In fact, let's talk a lot of adrenaline. The kind of adrenaline that energizes Maj. Nate Hofmann with the United States Air Force Thunderbirds Demonstration Team.
"Oh yeah, you can't beat it. It's something I love for sure!" Hofmann said in front of a colorful F-16.
How can Maj. Hofmann not love his job? Almost daily, he slices through the sky in an F-16 aircraft, pushed by Pratt & Whitney's F100-PW-229 engine.
"When you hear that motor crank up and come to life and you feel those low frequency vibrations as the motor spools up – it kind of gives you chills," Hofmann said.
The F100 engine is a proven asset to the United States Air Force. Currently, there are more than 3,500 engines in service, totaling more than 24 million flight hours.
We built it, and the Air Force excels at maintaining it. But don't think it's only the pilots in the cockpit that get that adrenaline boost – there's excitement to be had on the ground, too.
"One of my favorites is when we have to do a burner run, we take it into a hush house and I have sit on the outside of that jet while we put it into burner. Watching those augmenter rings come on, seeing that flame just extend out of the jet, feeling the vibration and the wind being sucked out of my lungs, is a feeling I can't ever experience anywhere else," said Staff Sgt. Daniel Walling, a dedicated crew chief on the Thunderbirds.
The sergeant's experiences are shared around the world, inspiring perhaps the next future pilot or mechanic. But the work of the Thunderbirds also affords one Pratt & Whitney employee to tell our company mission – what we do, what we will do, and, if you like it – come join us.
"I'm always proud to tell the story of our heritage our history and our future. Not only on the military side but the next-gen and the Geared Turbofan which looks very bright," said Tom Eshelman, the Pratt & Whitney field representative for the Thunderbirds.
So let's talk adrenaline. That intoxicating feeling you get when you absorb raw power. The kind of feeling that's possible when you realize you have designed something or built something – and for the lucky few, flew something – that few people have had a chance to do.
"When we get ready to taxi out, and advance the throttle forward, you start to feel it, lurching, ready to go … it's an acceleration you can't describe unless you really experience it," Hofmann said.