Biography of Geoffrey de Havilland: Aircraft Designer

On this day, July 27 in the year 1882, the man who founded de Havilland Aircraft Company was born in Buckinghamshire, England. His name was Geoffrey de Havilland, the designer of the Tiger Moth, Comet, Mosquito, and Vampire aircrafts.

Geoffrey de Havilland
Geoffrey de Havilland (Credit: historytoday.com)

Geoffrey de Havilland was the son of a clergyman and the grandson of a wealthy person. He studied at Oxford and the Crystal Palace School of Engineering. Initially, he worked as a designer of engines and cars for various companies. In 1909, he flew his first aircraft which took him two years to build using borrowed money from his maternal grandfather. Miserably, this aircraft splintered in the air and crashed to the ground. Undeterred, he built his second aircraft the next year and he was able to fly it successfully. He sold this aircraft to a company which hired him as its aircraft designer. This company would later become the Royal Aircraft Factory.

During the First World War, Geoffrey designed many of the aircrafts that were used by the Royal Air Force. In 1920, he set up the de Havilland Aircraft Company which produced his first line of aircrafts called the Tiger Moth. Later, he designed the Comet that was able to fly to Australia. During World War II, his Mosquito series of fighter bombers played a crucial role being considered as the most versatile at that time. After the war, he produced his first jet which he called the Vampire. In 1960, Geoffrey sold his company to Hawker Siddeley Company.

Geoffrey de Havilland died of cerebral haemorrhage in 1965 at the age of 82. He married twice and had three sons. His youngest son John was killed in an aircraft collision in 1943 while his eldest Geoffrey Jr. died in an aircraft accident in 1946. After the the death of his two sons, his first wife suffered a nervous breakdown.

References

http://www.historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/death-sir-geoffrey-de-havilland
http://www.ctie.monash.edu.au/hargrave/de_havilland.html

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