For his lifelong dedication and significant contributions to the advancement of modern aviation through the development and production of an outstanding series of aircraft powerplants and spacecraft propulsion engines.
HORACE M. HORNER
In 1926—the year the U.S. airline industry was born—a young man from New Haven, Connecticut, went to work for the Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Co. as a messenger boy and stock chaser.
At the time, the tiny, year-old company, employing less than 100 men, was readying an air-cooled engine called the Wasp for initial production. Only seventeen years later, energetic, inquisitive stock chaser H. M. Horner became president of Pratt & Whitney—at the age of 40.
The company by then had become a division of United Aircraft Corporation and Horner took over not only the engine manufacturing branch but the entire operation, becoming President in 1943. In that capacity, he directed the production of more aviation horsepower than any other man in the world.
Pratt & Whitney supplied about 50 percent of U.S. military aircraft engine power during World War II, and United Aircraft’s Hamilton Standard division supplied 75 percent of all U.S. military aircraft propellers. The Chance Vought subsidiary was a major producer of Navy fighters and the Sikorsky division was the only manufacturer of WW II helicopters. Homer graduated from Yale University’s Sheffield Scientific School in 1926 and subsequently received four honorary degrees from other institutions, along with numerous other awards recognizing his enormous contributions to the science of flight.
The company he joined as a lowly messenger, fresh out of college, has also furnished one of the major cornerstones in the structure of peaceful communications through air transportation. Pratt & Whitney turbine engines launched the United States into the jet age in 1958 and they are powering thousands of jet aircraft throughout the world today.
Horner served as President of United Aircraft Corporation (which later became United Technologies until he retired on October 1, 1968). He died in Hartford County, Connecticut on May 19 1983.