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Hans J. von Ohain

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Co-Inventor of the

Jet Engine

Born Dessau, Germany

December 14, 1911

Died Melbourne, Florida

13 March, 1998


Hans Joachim-Pabst Von Ohain conceived his theories of gas turbine power plants while an engineering student at the University of Gottingen in 1933. After receiving his Doctorate in Physics in 1935, he developed these theories into reality and constructed a working model of his first jet turbine engine.

Von Ohain recognized that more sophisticated testing and development were essential before practical application was possible. He convinced Ernst Heinkel, head of the Heinkel Aircraft Company to allow him to work at the Heinkel factory. This partnership produced the world's first true jet turbine powered flight on August 27, 1939 by the Heinkel HE-178, using Von Ohain's engine. His continued development of the gas-turbine engine during World War II resulted in abandonment of the centrifugal flow concept, and adoption of the axial flow compressor type engine.

In 1945, he emigrated to the U.S. and became an engineer for the U.S. Air Force at its engine development center where he continued his work in both theoretical and experimental research in propulsion and energy and energy conversion.

In 1956, Von Ohain became Director of the famed Air Force Aeronautical Research Laboratory for propulsion and energy conversion research. Here he displayed the same analytical insight, the same initiative and drive as in the turbojet development. He generated new ideas and strong programs for basic and applied research. These produced new approaches to such fields as the colloid-gas core reactor for propulsion and power generation, electrofluid dynamics, advanced diffusers and ejectors, dynamic energy transfer, and V/STOL aircraft.

Invested 1982 in the International Aerospace Hall of Fame

From "These We Honor," The International Hall of Fame; The San Diego Aerospace Museum, San Diego, CA. 1984

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Updated: March 12, 2004