Documentary series: A Day with a PT6 Pioneer
To celebrate the PT6 engine’s 50th anniversary, PT6 Nation launches a documentary series featuring interviews with members of the 12 “PT6 Pioneers,” starting with Gordon Hardy.
As the PT6 engine marks its 50th anniversary this year, what better way to set the tone than going to the source: the very pioneers responsible for bringing the PT6 engine to life?
Enter Gordon Hardy, a P&WC retiree whose legacy goes back to 1957, when he, and his wife, arrived in Quebec, Canada, from England to begin work as a designer at United Technologies Corporation. It wasn’t long before Hardy, a self-described “turbine man,” joined the ranks of the famous “PT6 Pioneers,” the 12 men responsible for the first PT6 production engine in 1963.
PT6 Nation caught up with Hardy at his home in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The team was treated to a brief tour and introduced to his wife, Margaret, who, by Hardy’s account, played a key role in the PT6 engine’s legacy: “The early days of the PT6 asked for long hours, and that’s never easy on the family at home. But they were so supportive and stood by us every step of the way.”
The team was lucky enough to see some of the keepsakes on display in Hardy’s study, including sketches of the PT6 engine when it was merely an idea on paper. The faded ink and frayed edges speak to a time predating the technology that has enabled the PT6 engine to flourish over the decades. Today, parts are designed digitally, producing a physical model that can be used from the casting process right through to inspecting the final machined part. Hardy’s original sketches really emphasized how far the PT6 engine has come.
The day continued at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, a place that Hardy frequents regularly. “I just love it here,” he beamed, as the team prepared the cameras for his interview. “I love the architecture of the museum almost as much as the aircrafts on display. It feels like a big, beautiful hangar.” It was in this big, beautiful hangar that the PT6 Nation crew sat down with Hardy for a lengthy discussion about the early days of the PT6 engine, the inspiration behind its design and the points of pride that Hardy takes from its golden anniversary.
Although Hardy has long-since retired, he wears his love for the PT6 engine proudly on his sleeve. In addition to the fact that Hardy played a huge role in one of P&WC’s most distinguished chapters – developing an engine that has become an industry icon – his legacy lives on in his son, Doug, who currently works at P&WC managing aftermarket activities.
Stay tuned for the remaining interviews with his fellow PT6 Pioneers, which will air during the course of the year.