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In The Beginning

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 “…with a rising shriek, the speed began to rise rapidly and large patches of red heat became visible. The engine was obviously out of control. All the personnel went down the factory at high speed in varying directions…”

—Sir Frank Whittle, describing an early test of his gas turbine design


Today, the gas turbine is known for making high-speed, efficient flight a reality. Its output can range from a few horsepower to tens of thousands. Whether it is a turboprop or a turbojet, it has proven itself to be far superior to its piston forebears in every area except one: cost of acquisition.

Despite that barrier, the gas turbine has been increasingly utilized in General Aviation for nearly 40 years in single and multi-engine aircraft. But it may never have existed if it hadn’t been for the persistence of two inventors—one British and one German—in the years immediately preceding World War II.

Ironically, the invention that could have potentially furnished military superiority was ignored early on by military leaders of both countries.

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