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History of Early Jet Engines
Part 2: The First Jet Engine - A Short History of Early Engines
Picture of a Turbojet EnginePicture of Turbojet Engine
 
 More of this Feature
Part I: The History of the Jet Engine
• Part 2: Timeline of Early Airplane Engine Leading to the Jet Engine
 Related Innovations
The History of Flight
Helicopter
Rockets
Parachutes
Air Ships
Understanding Engines
More on Jet Engines 
How Jet Engines Work
Parts of a Jet Engine
Jet Engines Types


Sir Isaac Newton in the 18th century was the first to theorize that a rearward-channeled explosion could propel a machine forward at a great rate of speed. This theory was based on his third law of motion. As the hot air blasts backwards through the nozzle the plane moves forward.

• Henri Giffard built an airship which was powered by the first aircraft engine, a three-horse power steam engine. It was very heavy, too heavy to fly.

• In 1874, Felix de Temple, built a monoplane that flew just a short hop down a hill with the help of a coal fired steam engine.

Otto Daimler in the late 1800's, invented the first gasoline engine.

• In 1894, American Hiram Maxim tried to power his triple biplane with two coal fired steam engines. It only flew for a few seconds.

• The early steam engines were powered by heated coal and were generally much too heavy for flight.

• American Samuel Langley made a model airplanes that were powered by steam engines. In 1896, he was successful in flying an unmanned airplane with a steam-powered engine, called the Aerodrome. It flew about 1 mile before it ran out of steam. He then tried to build a full sized plane, the Aerodrome A, with a gas powered engine. In 1903, it crashed immediately after being launched from a house boat.

• In 1903, the Wright Brothers flew, "The Flyer", with a 12 horse power gas powered engine.

• From 1903, the year of the Wright Brothers first flight, to the late 1930s the gas powered reciprocating internal-combustion engine with a propeller was the sole means used to propel aircraft.

• It was Frank Whittle, a British pilot, who designed the first turbo jet engine in 1930. The first Whittle engine successfully flew in April, 1937. This engine featured a multistage compressor, and a combustion chamber, a single stage turbine and a nozzle.

• The first jet airplane to successfully use this type of engine was the German Heinkel He 178 invented by Hans Von Ohain. It was the world's first turbojet powered flight. 

• General Electric for the US Army Air Force built the first American jet plane. It was the XP-59A experimental aircraft.

Next page > The History of the Jet Engine

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