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As a junior officer in the Royal Airforce in the late 1930s Frank Whittle got the idea for the turbo jet aircraft engine. With very little funding, and not much support at first from the Air Ministry he with a small team built the engine. Experimental jet aircraft flew during the Second World War but were too late to take part. Soon after the war came two small fighters, the Glouster Meteor (The Meat Box to airman in those days) and the single seater DeHaveland Vampire. I have actually flown in the co-pilot's seat in a late 1950s version, two seater trainer. I was even alloed to take over the controls in level flight over Linconshire, dodging in and out of the clouds at 10 thousand feet. (That was as high as allowed without first being tested in a decompression chamber). Frank Whittles turbo-jet principle made possible all those aircraft which followed from Meteor to DeHaveland Comet, Boing 707, Concord, Airbus, just about every jet aircraft. So that is a short history of Air Commodor Frank Whittle whose achievements are remembered (not always remembered - most people have never heard of him) by his statue in Coventry beneath the Whittle Arch which represents an aircraft wing.
Europe is generally agreed to be the birthplace of western culture, including such legendary innovations as the democratic nation-state, football and tomato sauce.The word Europe comes from the Greek goddess Europa, who was kidnapped by Zeus and plunked down on the island of Crete. Europa gradually changed from referring to mainland Greece until it extended finally to include Norway and Russia.Don't be confused that Europe is called a continent without looking like an island, the way the other continents do. It's okay. The Ural mountains have steadily been there to divide Europe from Asia for the last 250 million years. Russia technically inhabits "Eurasia".Europe is presently uniting into one political and economic zone with a common currency called the Euro. The European Union originated in 1993 and is now composed of 27 member states. Its headquarters is in Brussels, Belgium.Do not confuse the EU with the Council of Europe, which has 47 member states and dates to 1949. These two bodies share the same flag, national anthem, and mission of integrating Europe. The headquarters of the Council are located in Strasbourg, France, and it is most famous for its European Court of Human Rights. In spite of these two bodies, there is still no single Constitution or set of laws applying to all the countries of Europe. Debate rages over the role of the EU in regards to national sovereignty. As of January 2009, the Lisbon Treaty is the closest thing to a European Constitution, yet it has not been approved by all the EU states. Text by Steve Smith.