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hats off to Sir Frank Whittle: celebrating the 70th anniversary of Britain’s first jet powered flight

Seventy years ago today history was made when a British jet powered aeroplane first flew as the W1 turbo fan powered Gloster E28/39 took off from Cranwell and made a successful first flight.

Thanks to George Carter who designed the aeroplane, to Gloster chief test pilot Flight Lieutenant Gerry Sayer who made that first 17 minute flight, and to the perseverance and genius of Sir Frank Whittle, Britain entered the jet age.

Notwithstanding that the Germans had already flown their first jet aircraft, the He 178 in 1939 and would actually be the first to get a jet powered aeroplane into operational service in the shark like Me 262, this having first flown jet with power around 14 months after the Gloster. But Frank Whittle got the idea first, and today marks a landmark in our aviation history. It punctuates a remarkable 66 year period between the Wright brothers staggering into the air for the first powered and controlled flight and Neil Armstrong setting foot on the moon.

So let’s celebrate the achievement on this, its 70th anniversary.

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