The man behind the de Havilland name

GEOFFREY De Havilland was born on July 27, 1882, in the parish of Hazlemere in Buckinghamshire. The son of a curate, his family history can be traced back to 15th century Guernsey. Geoffrey s spent most of his childhood in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, before

GEOFFREY De Havilland was born on July 27, 1882, in the parish of Hazlemere in Buckinghamshire.

The son of a curate, his family history can be traced back to 15th century Guernsey.

Geoffrey's spent most of his childhood in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, before leaving school at 17 to join the Crystal Palace Engineering School.

He built his own motorcycle and worked as a draughtsman and bus designer, before deciding his future lay in aviation.


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Borrowing �1,000 from his grandfather, he built a plane and completed his first flight in spring 1910.

Indeed, the plane was so successful it was bought by the British Army's balloon factory, where Geoffrey was taken on as a designer and pilot.

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During World War One, he took part in patrols off the Scottish coast, before designing a number of aircraft for the war effort.

He prospered financially from his work, allowing him to found the de Havilland Aircraft Co in Edgware in 1920.

The firm relocated to Hatfield in 1934 and it was here that he designed and built the Comet.

Geoffrey eventually retired from the company in 1960, after selling it to Hawker Siddeley.

He received much recognition for his work in the aviation industry over the years, including the Air Force Cross in 1919 and a knighthood in 1944.

In his personal life, he married Louie Thomas in 1909 and they had three sons together.

Two of them, Geoffrey Jnr and John, died while testing aircraft in the 1940s and are buried together in Tewin churchyard.

After losing his first wife, Geoffrey Snr married Joan Mary Mordaunt in 1951.

Sir Geoffrey de Havilland died at the age of 82 on May 21, 1965, in Watford.

Did you know?

Geoffrey de Havilland shared a common ancestry with William Pitt the Younger, who became Prime Minister in 1783 at the age of just 24.

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