Commemorating the First Flights of the Wright Brothers December 17, 1903

‹--Return to the Shrine

Sir Frank J. Whittle

1907 - 1996

Pioneer Developer Of Turbo-jet Aircraft Engines

Sir Frank J. Whittle experimented with and constructed turbo-jet engines in pre-World War II England. In 1929 he patented a turbo-jet engine and in 1937 proved to skeptical British Air Ministry officials that a jet powered aircraft was feasible.

In 1941, a Gloster E28/39 research aircraft was fitted with a Whittle "W.1" engine that produced 800 pounds of thrust. The aircraft reached 466 miles per hour and climbed to 42,000 feet, exceeding all speed and altitude limitations of that period. The success of the Whittle "W.1" turbine engine propelled England into the jet age.

Whittle's formal training was in mechanical engineering. During the war he rose to the rank of air commodore in the Royal Air Force and served as technical advisor to the Ministry of Supply. He retired from the RAF in 1948 and in the same year was knighted because of his contributions. He was later awarded the United States Legion of Merit and the Royal Aeronautical Society gold medal.