FEB 01] COVENTRY UNIVERSITY NEWS
Frank Whittle To Be Honoured By University
jet engine pioneer Sir Frank Whittle is to be honoured by
Coventry University by having an engineering building named
Frank’s son Iain will be guest of honour at the ceremony at
C-block next week.
building is mainly used for courses connected with the
Whittle was born in Earlsdon, Coventry in 1907. As a youngster
he was amazed by an early aeroplane which made an emergency
landing on Hearsall Common.
plane flew so low it blew his cap off, and it proved an
inspirational moment for Frank, who joined the RAF as an
apprentice aircraft fitter after leaving school in 1923.
he was selected for pilot training at the RAF College, Cranwell,
where he was soon flying solo.
at Cranwell, and still only 21, Whittle began to consider future
developments in aircraft design including the use of an aero gas
turbine. By January
1930 he had patented his design for the jet aircraft engine.
story is one of fluctuating fortune, of a struggle against a
lack of vision by others, of financial crises and bureaucratic
caution by those he approached.
Air Ministry gave him no support, so Whittle launched his own
development company. In
1937 he test-ran the first successful jet engine.
It was not until 1939 that the Ministry decided to
test-fly the Whittle engine that was later incorporated into the
his lifetime Frank Whittle was awarded many prizes, elected a
member of the Royal Academy, knighted and awarded the Order of
Coventry University spokesperson said:
can be no doubt that Whittle's work was the most important
mechanical invention of this century.
he had pioneered led to the development of such icons as the
Vulcan and eventually Concorde.”
University already has connections with Sir Frank. A former
member of the academic staff, Eugene Place, worked with Sir
Frank on the development of the jet engine, and the former
Department of Mechanical Engineering owned a rotor from one of
Sir Frank’s development engines.
rotor is now on extended loan to the Air Museum at Baginton
Airport in exchange for a range of jet engine components which
are used in the teaching of undergraduates.
high quality research that is carried out, the innovation
associated with student projects, and the excellence of the
teaching of Mechanical Engineering make the association of the
building with the name Sir Frank Whittle most appropriate.”