“At one point an old Pratt & Whitney J57 jet engine was brought up from our ‘boneyard’...It was in awful condition after having been tossed around in the tornado that devastated the museum in 1979...I looked at it and commented to some of the guys ‘I pity the crew that is going to have to work on that!’ Well, you can guess where this story is going. Our crew was given the task. It was a lot of fun taking a jet engine apart and through the magic performed by our restoration team the engine is proudly on display as a ‘cutaway’ display showing how a jet engine works. The ultimate compliment to our work came from a Pratt & Whitney engineer who was touring the museum when he exclaimed ‘Where did you get that! It looks like it just came from the factory!’”
- Harry Newman, Restoration Volunteer
Pratt & Whitney, the famous engine company based here in Connecticut, came into the “Jet Age” with the J57 engine. The company’s first turbojet design, with a twin spool axial flow configuration, was instantly successful. In 1952, Pratt & Whitney won the Collier Trophy with the J57 for great achievement in American aviation.
The J57 powered both military and civilian aircraft, bringing the United States into the Jet Age. The J57 powered the North American F-100 “Super Sabre” beginning in 1952, giving it the distinction of being the first production jet fighter to break the sound barrier. The JT3, the commercial version of the J57, powered the first flight of the Pan American Airways Boeing 707 in 1958. The engine was used in numerous aircraft, including the Boeing B-52, Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance plane, Boeing C-135, and the Douglas DC-8.
NEAM docent and Pratt & Whitney retiree Carl Cruff discusses the legacy of the J57.