The Story of Industrialist Frederick Rentschler

On this day, October 8 in the year 1887, the inventor of air-cooled aircraft engines was born in Ohio, USA. His name was Frederick Brant Rentschler, the founder of Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Company.

Frederick Rentschler
Frederick Rentschler (Credit: wiki commons)

Frederick Rentschler was the son of immigrants from Germany who established the Republic Motor Car Company. In 1909, he graduated from Princeton University. Then he joined the family business as a machinist. During World War I, he served in the US Army where his background in mechanical engineering was put to good use. He was assigned to inspect an engine factory in New Jersey. After the war, he was convinced that the future of aircraft lays in air-cooled radial engines.

In 1919, Frederick Rentschler helped form a company called the Wright Aeronautical Corporation. Because the members of the board of directors refused to fund his air-cooled engine project, he left the company together with some associates. He pitched the idea to the owners of machine tool company Pratt & Whitney. Luckily, they agreed to invest in the project. In 1925, Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Company was born and began the mass production of air-cooled radial engines called Wasp engine, a name suggested by Faye Belden Rentschler whom Frederick married in 1921.

In 1929, Frederick Rentschler joined forces with William Boeing to create United Aircraft and Transport Corporation which became a subsidiary of The Boeing Company. However, The Boeing Company was disbanded in 1934 and all its manufacturing facilities east of the Mississippi River came under the ownership of an independent company named United Aircraft Corporation with Frederick as president. During World War II, this company was one of the largest producers of air-cooled engines for military aircrafts.

Frederick Rentschler continued to lead UTC until his death in 1956. The company was later renamed United Technologies Corporation. It invested in or acquired several businesses including Otis elevators and Carrier air conditioners and refrigerators. In 2020, UTC merged with Raytheon and divested of its elevators and appliances business.


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