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HERITAGE - FAMOUS PEOPLE
Sir Frank WhittleJet Engine Pioneer
|Inventor of the jet engine
|1 June 1907, Newcombe Road, Coventry
|8 August 1996, Columbia, Maryland, USA
|CAUSE OF DEATH
|Eldest son of a factory foreman
Married in 1930, divorced in 1976. Married second wife, Hazel, in the USA in the same
Two children, David and Ian.
|Earlsdon Council School
Royal Air Force College, Cranwell
|RAF Cranwell, aircraft apprentice
|Selected for officer and pilot training
|Writes his final thesis for the RAF College -
contains the initial germ of the idea for jet propulsion. Becomes a commissioned officer
|Develops the initial idea of the jet engine -
using a gas turbine to produce a propelling jet.
|Applies for a patent for the jet engine
concept - "a reaction motor suitable for aircraft propulsion" (granted
The idea is ignored by the Air Ministry.
|Test pilot on floatplanes and flying boats
|Flight Lieutenant Frank Whittle sent to
Cambridge University as a mature student by the RAF. Enters Peterhouse College. Whilst at
Cambridge encouraged to pursue his idea for jet propulsion.
|While at Cambridge University meets up with
two former RAF pilots keen to develop the jet engine.
|Power Jets Ltd set up by Whittle and
colleagues in a factory in Rugby owned by BTH.
[In Germany, Herbert Wagner and Hans von Ohain independently and in
secret begin development of their own turbojet proposals at Junkers
and Heinkel respectively.]
|Power Jets tests first experimental bench
engine, the WU.
|Testing moves to a derelict foundry in
Lutterworth for safety reasons.
|The Air Ministry's Director of Scientific
Research finally acknowledges that Whittle's ideas are feasible. Power Jets are awarded a
contract to develop a flight engine, the W1.
[The contract to build a plane to put the engine in is given to the Gloster Aircraft
|15 May : first test flight of a Gloster E28/39
powered by Whittle's jet engine.
October : an engine prototype (W1X) is shipped to General
Electric in the USA.
Heinkel He 178, developed from von Ohain's work, had first flown in Germany on 27 August
1939 - but the flight had not been very successful and it took the Germans another five
years to perfect the technology]
[America's first jet plane built in 1943]
|First official public news of the jet engine.
A jet-engined Gloster Meteor flies in combat - the only Allied jet aircraft to participate
in World War Two. The Power Jets company is nationalised.
|Taken off the design and development of jet
engines. Resigns from the project.
Awarded the Daniel Guggenheim Medal for the development of the jet engine.
|Invalided out of the Air Force with health
problems caused by stress.
Knighted by King George VI.
Becomes Honorary Technical Adviser to BOAC.
|Writes autobiography 'Jet - The Story of a
|Joins Shell as a technical adviser, mainly
involved with oil well drilling technology.
|Consultant and lecturer.
|Becomes technical consultant to Bristol
|Awarded the Coventry Award of Merit.
|Emigrates to the USA.
|Research Professor at the US Naval Academy,
|Receives the Order of Merit from the Queen.
|Awarded the Charles Stark Draper Prize jointly
with Hans von Ohain.
|Awarded the SAE Aerospace Engineering
Leadership Award jointly with Hans von Ohain.