An RAF pilot he thought up the jet engine and tried convincing the English military to fund development. When they refused, he created a private company to develop his jet engine, Power Jets Ltd. Undercapitalized, development of the new engine plodding along slowly.
During WWII, the Allied forces realized the military potential of the jet engine.
The United Kingdom nationalized Whittle’s company, Power Jets, in 1944. Rolls-Royce and GE received Whittle’s work under the assumption they could accelerate the production of workable engines. Investors tripled their initial investment, but Whittle received nothing. A lifelong soldier there is no record that he complained.
Knighted in 1948, Whittlemoved to the US in 1977. He spent the remainder of his life in military academia, never from his jet engine.
Later in life Whittle met former Nazi jet engineer Hans von Ohain who proclaimed Whittle was years ahead of the Germans. But for a lack of funding the jet engine would have been finished significantly sooner.
“If Hitler or Goering had heard that there is a man in England who flies 500mph in a small experimental plane and that it is coming into development, it is likely World War II would not have come into being.”Hans von hain