Seventy-five years of the jet age

Sir Frank Whittle at the opening of Whittle Hall, inspecting the jet engine which he designed. EMN-160414-143723001
Sir Frank Whittle at the opening of Whittle Hall, inspecting the jet engine which he designed. EMN-160414-143723001

Cranwell Aviation Heritage Centre is set to celebrate another milestone at the dawn of the jet age, with a series of events and exhibitions.

On May 15, 1941 RAF Cranwell saw the first flight of a British jet aircraft, the Gloster E28/39. This revolutionary design led to the first generation of jet fighters - a creation of famous Cranwellian, Sir Frank Whittle, whose ashes are buried on the base.

Frank Whittle (centre) as a young cadet at RAF College Cranwell in 1928. EMN-160414-143711001

Frank Whittle (centre) as a young cadet at RAF College Cranwell in 1928. EMN-160414-143711001

Whittle joined the RAF as an apprentice in 1922 and trained as a pilot from 1926-28 at RAF College Cranwell. It was during this time he wrote his thesis ‘Future Developments in Aircraft Design’ which discussed the possibilities of rocket propulsion and gas turbine driven propellers. He later joined an engineering course at Henlow.

To celebrate this historic event, Cranwell Aviation Heritage Centre is teaming up with the Jet Provost Group and Metheringham Airfield Visitor Centre for a special weekend. On Saturday and Sunday May 14 and 15, from 10am to 4.30pm, experience the thrills and spills of jet flight through simulators, taxy runs, cockpits and engines. There will also be a presentation at Metheringham Airfield Visitor Centre on May 14 at 10.30am by Ian Whittle, son of Sir Frank, on the dawn of the jet age (no need to book. )

Cranwell Aviation Heritage Centre will be displaying a special exhibition loaned by the Lutterworth Museum, to include a model of the WU unit engine first fired in 1937, a turbine blade from the E28/39 jet engine and a signed champagne bottle opened to celebrate the first jet flight. The centre will also have a copy of Whittle’s thesis courtesy of the College Library.

Visitors will be entered into a free prize draw for a taxi ride in a Jet Provost XS186.

The Heritage and Ethos Centre at RAF Cranwell will have a display of artefacts from Whittle’s stay at RAFC Cranwell - access by appointment only. Contact Sgt Lee Adamson, lee.adamson256@mod.uk or call 01400 266654.

For information call 01529 488490 or 01529 308102 or email cranwellaviation@n-kesteven.gov.uk.