65 Facts About Frank Whittle


Frank Whittle is credited with having invented the turbojet engine.


Frank Whittle demonstrated an aptitude for engineering and an interest in flying from an early age.


Frank Whittle was taught the theory of aircraft engines and gained practical experience in the engineering workshops.


Frank Whittle excelled in his studies and became an accomplished pilot.


In 1948, Frank Whittle retired from the RAF and received a knighthood.


Frank Whittle joined BOAC as a technical advisor before working as an engineering specialist with Shell, followed by a position with Bristol Aero Engines.


In 2002, Frank Whittle was ranked number 42 in the BBC poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.


Frank Whittle was born in a terraced house in Newcombe Road, Earlsdon, Coventry, England, on 1 June 1907, the eldest son of Moses Frank Whittle and Sara Alice Garlick.


When he was nine years old, the family moved to the nearby town of Royal Leamington Spa where his father, a highly inventive practical engineer and mechanic, purchased the Leamington Valve and Piston Ring Company, which comprised a few lathes and other tools and a single-cylinder gas engine, on which Frank Whittle became an expert.


Frank Whittle developed a rebellious and adventurous streak, together with an early interest in aviation.


Frank Whittle quickly developed practical engineering skills while helping in his father's workshop, and being an enthusiastic reader spent much of his spare time in the Leamington reference library, reading about astronomy, engineering, turbines, and the theory of flight.


At the age of 15, determined to be a pilot, Frank Whittle applied to join the RAF.


In January 1923, having passed the RAF entrance examination with a high mark, Frank Whittle reported to RAF Halton as an Aircraft Apprentice.


Frank Whittle lasted only two days: just five feet tall and with a small chest measurement, he failed the medical.


Frank Whittle then put himself through a vigorous training programme and special diet devised by a physical training instructor at Halton to build up his physique, only to fail again six months later, when he was told that he could not be given a second chance, despite having added three inches to his height and chest.


Frank Whittle hated the strict discipline imposed on apprentices and, convinced there was no hope of ever becoming a pilot, he at one time seriously considered deserting.


The quality of these attracted the eye of the Apprentice Wing commanding officer, who noted that Frank Whittle was a mathematical genius.


Frank Whittle was so impressed that in 1926 he recommended Whittle for officer training at RAF College Cranwell.


For Frank Whittle, this was the chance of a lifetime, not only to enter the commissioned ranks but because the training included flying lessons on the Avro 504.


The idea was not new and had been talked about for some time in the industry, but Frank Whittle's aim was to demonstrate that at increased altitudes the lower outside air density would increase the design's efficiency.


Frank Whittle ranked second in his class in academics, won the Andy Fellowes Memorial Prize for Aeronautical Sciences for his thesis, and was described as an "exceptional to above average" pilot.


Frank Whittle continued working on the motorjet principle after his thesis work but eventually abandoned it when further calculations showed it would weigh as much as a conventional engine of the same thrust.


On 27 August 1928, Pilot Officer Frank Whittle joined No 111 Squadron, Hornchurch, flying Siskin IIIs.


Frank Whittle's continuing reputation for low flying and aerobatics provoked a public complaint that almost led to his being court-martialled.


Frank Whittle became a popular and gifted instructor, and was selected as one of the entrants in a competition to select a team to perform the "crazy flying" routine in the 1930 Royal Air Force Air Display at RAF Hendon.


Frank Whittle destroyed two aircraft in accidents during rehearsals but remained unscathed on both occasions.


Frank Whittle showed his engine concept around the base, where it attracted the attention of Flying Officer Pat Johnson, formerly a patent examiner.


Frank Whittle showed that such designs up to this point had been flying "stalled", and that by giving the compressor blades an aerofoil-shaped cross-section their efficiency could be dramatically improved.


The RAF returned his comment to Frank Whittle, referring to the design as being "impracticable".


Since the RAF was not interested in the concept they did not declare it secret, meaning that Frank Whittle was able to retain the rights to the idea, which would have otherwise been their property.


In Coventry, on 24 May 1930, Frank Whittle married his fiancee, Dorothy Mary Lee, with whom he later had two sons, David and Ian.


The firm rejected Frank Whittle's proposal, doubting material was available to sustain the required very high temperatures.


Besides publishing a paper on superchargers, Frank Whittle wrote The Case for the Gas Turbine.


Every officer with a permanent commission was expected to take a specialist course, and as a result Frank Whittle attended the Officers School of Engineering at RAF Henlow in 1932.


The agreement soon bore fruit, and in 1935, through Tinling's father, Whittle was introduced to Mogens L Bramson, a well-known independent consulting aeronautical engineer.


Bramson was initially sceptical but after studying Frank Whittle's ideas became an enthusiastic supporter.


Frank Whittle expressed his idea with superb conciseness: 'Reciprocating engines are exhausted.


Von Ohain applied for a patent for a turbojet engine in 1935 but having earlier reviewed and critiqued Frank Whittle's patents, had to narrow the scope of his own filing.


Frank Whittle's plans were hidden from the Francoists and secretly handed to the British embassy in Madrid a few years later when his wife, Carlota O'Neill, was released from prison.


The report was passed on to Griffith for comment, but was not received back until March 1937 by which point Frank Whittle's design was well along.


Frank Whittle admitted later he had become addicted to benzedrine.


The stress on Frank Whittle was expressed in a 27 May 1941 letter to Henry Tizard:.


Frank Whittle had already increased the power of the Merlin piston engine by improving its supercharger.


On 10 December 1941 Frank Whittle suffered a nervous breakdown, and left work for a month.


From 3 June until 14 August 1942 Frank Whittle visited the United States.


Frank Whittle toured the Bell Aircraft, and the three Bell XP-59A Airacomets, a twin-engine fighter powered by the General Electric I-A jet engines.


On 11 December 1942 Frank Whittle had a meeting with Ministry of Aircraft Production Wilfrid Freeman and Air Marshal Linnell.


Frank Whittle wanted to improve the efficiency of the jet engine at lower speeds.


Frank Whittle pointed out that the company had been funded by private investors who helped develop the engine successfully, only to see production contracts go to other companies.


Frank Whittle believed that he had triggered this decision, but Cripps had already been considering how best to maintain a successful jet programme and act responsibly regarding the state's substantial financial investment, while at the same time wanting to establish a research centre that could use Power Jets' talents, and had come to the conclusion that national interests demanded the setting up of a Government-owned establishment.


In January 1944 Frank Whittle was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year Honours.


Frank Whittle met with Cripps to object personally to the nationalisation efforts and how they were being handled, but to no avail.


In 1946, Frank Whittle accepted a post as Technical Advisor on Engine Design and Production to Controller of Supplies ; was made a Commander of the US Legion of Merit; and was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1947.


Frank Whittle joined BOAC as a technical advisor on aircraft gas turbines and travelled extensively over the next few years, viewing jet engine developments in the United States, Canada, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.


Frank Whittle left BOAC in 1952 and spent the next year working on a biography, Jet: The Story of a Pioneer.


Frank Whittle was awarded the Royal Society of Arts' Albert Medal that year.


Normally a well is drilled by attaching rigid sections of pipe together and powering the cutting head by spinning the pipe from the surface, but Frank Whittle's design removed the need for a strong mechanical connection between the drill and the head frame, allowing for much lighter piping to be used.


Frank Whittle gave the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in 1954 on The Story of Petroleum.


Frank Whittle left Shell in 1957 to work for Bristol Aero Engines who picked up the project in 1961, setting up "Bristol Siddeley Frank Whittle Tools" to further develop the concept.


Frank Whittle received the Tony Jannus Award in 1969 for his distinguished contributions to commercial aviation.


Frank Whittle emigrated to the US and the following year accepted the position of NAVAIR Research Professor at the United States Naval Academy.


Frank Whittle's research concentrated on the boundary layer before his professorship became part-time from 1978 to 1979.


In 1986, Frank Whittle was appointed a member of the Order of Merit.


Frank Whittle died of lung cancer on 9 August 1996, at his home in Columbia, Maryland.


Frank Whittle was cremated in America and his ashes were flown to England where they were placed in a memorial in a church in Cranwell.