Sir Frank WhittleBorn 1 Jun 1907; died 8 Aug 1996 at age 89.English aviation engineer and pilot who was a pioneer in the field of jet propulsion, which he used to develop aircraft that could fly at faster speeds and higher altitudes than piston-engine propeller airplanes of the 1920s. While he was at Cranwell, still only 21 years of age, Whittle began to consider the possibilities of jet propulsion as applied to aircraft. By 1930, he had designed and patented a jet aircraft engine. After 11 years, Whittle's engine, tested and modified, successfully powered a Gloster-Whittle E.28/39, on a historic 17-min flight on 15 May 1941. Design work continued, and by the end of WW II, the Gloster Meteor became the RAF's first jet fighter that would fly 200-mph faster than the RAF's Spitfires and Hurricanes.