Frank Whittle

Frank Whittle

Air Commodore Sir Frank Whittle, OM, KBE, CB, FRS, Hon FRAeS (1 June 1907 – 9 August 1996) was a British Royal Air Force (RAF) engineer officer. He is credited with independently inventing the turbojet engine. Whittle's operational engines were developed some years earlier than those of Germany's Dr. Hans von Ohain and he is regarded as the father of jet propulsion.

From an early age Whittle demonstrated an aptitude for engineering and an interest in flying. At first he was turned down by the RAF but, determined to be a pilot, he overcame his physical limitations to be accepted into the RAF, where his abilities earned him a place on the officer training course at Cranwell. He excelled in his studies and became an accomplished pilot. While writing his thesis there he formulated the fundamental concepts that led to the creation of the turbojet engine, taking out a patent on his design in 1930. His performance on an officers' engineering course earned him a place on a further course at the University of Cambridge where he graduated with a First.

Without Air Ministry support, he and two retired RAF servicemen formed Power Jets Ltd to build his engine with assistance from the firm of British Thomson-Houston. Despite limited funding, a prototype was created, which first ran in 1937. Official interest was forthcoming following this success, with contracts being placed to develop further engines, but the continuing stress seriously affected Whittle's health, eventually resulting in a nervous breakdown in 1940. In 1944 when Power Jets was nationalised he again suffered a nervous breakdown, and resigned from the board in 1946.

In 1948 Whittle retired from the RAF and received a knighthood. He joined BOAC as a technical advisor before working as an engineering specialist in one of Shell Oil's subsidiaries followed by a position with Bristol Aero Engines. After emigrating to the U.S. in 1976 he accepted the position of NAVAIR Research Professor at the United States Naval Academy from 1977–1979. In August 1996, Whittle died of lung cancer at his home in Columbia, Maryland. In 2002, Whittle was ranked number 42 in the BBC poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.

Read more about Frank WhittleEarly Life, Entering The RAF, Development of The Turbojet Engine, After The War, Later Life, Styles and Promotions

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1929 Frank Whittle's thesis on jet engines is published 1930 Schmidt patents a pulse-jet engine in Germany. 1937 The first successful run of Sir Frank Whittle's gas turbine for jet propulsion ... fly, using a Power Jets W.1 turbojet designed by Frank Whittle and others ...
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... A full-scale model of the Gloster E28/39 Whittle has been erected just outside the northern boundary of Farnborough Airfield in Hampshire, UK ... The Sir Frank Whittle Medal is awarded annually by the Royal Academy of Engineering to an engineer, normally resident in the UK, for outstanding and sustained ... Two roads in Derby are named Sir Frank Whittle Road and Sir Frank Whittle Way, as a tribute to his work at Rolls-Royce ...

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