High-Flying Inventor

The inventor of the jet engine was born on this day

in 1907. A pilot in the British Royal Air Force, Sir Frank Whittle realized the potential demand for a fast, high-flying aircraft and laid out a vision of jet propulsion in his senior thesis in 1928, but was ridiculed for it.

Undeterred, Whittle filed a patent for a turbo-jet in 1930 and founded a company called Power Jets Ltd. In 1937, he tested his first jet engine, an event considered the birth of this invention. Once World War II broke out, the British government fitted Whittle's jet engine to a war plane, whose maiden voyage was in 1941. The government commandeered Whittle's company, gave him a tax-free gift of 100,000 pounds, and knighted him in 1948.

[Source: Britannica Online]