Whittle was born in Coventry and after joining the Royal Air Force at 16 and developing a knowledge of aircraft and flying he became a test pilot in 1937. He studied Mechanical science at Peterhouse College, Cambridge for which he was awarded a First Class degree and at the age of 22 began to explore using gas turbines as a propulsion system for aircraft flying at altitudes too high for piston-engined - propeller driven aircraft to operate,
His thesis in 1928 was entitled Future Developments in Aircraft Design.
He sought private funding support for his development after being turned down by the Air Ministry and Whittle patented his jet engine in 1930. His
‘secret engine’, since the war affected many such developments - first flew in 1941. The American General Electric XP-59A flew in October 1942 with the Uk’s Gloster Meteor flying in 1944.
With private financial support, he began construction of his first engine in 1935. This engine, which had a single-stage centrifugal compressor coupled to a single-stage turbine, was successfully bench tested in April 1937.