James Bennett

Biography of James Bennett

James Allan Jamieson Bennett was a graduate of the University and a pioneer of the theory of helicopter flight. He was awarded an LLD in 1970.

Born in Dumbarton, Bennett graduated from the University BSc with special distinction in Naval Architecture (1923) and MA with honours in Mathematics (1920). He continued his studies at the Imperial College of Science and Technology and the University of Gottingen, and began work in the development of rotary wing aircraft for the Weir-Cierva Autogiro Combine in 1930.

Bennett designed the first production direct lift aircraft (the C40 Autogiro). His 1939 single-rotor helicopter design (the Gyrodyne) was later developed by Fairey Aviation and this led in 1949 to the first compound rotorcraft, (the 'Rotodyne') whose development he led till 1952.

He served as a Captain with the Royal Ordnance Corps and then as a senior technical officer with the Air Ministry during the Second World War, and then worked for Fairey and for the Hiller Aircraft Co in the USA. He was Professor of Aerodynamics at the College of Aeronautics at Cranfield from 1954 to 1968 and then Visiting Professor at the US Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, in 1967 and from 1969 to 1972. He was a helicopter consultant to the US Navy.

An aircraft designed by Bennett established the International Speed Record for helicopters in 1948, and one of his craft established the International Speed Record for rotorcraft in 1959.

His innovation earned him many honours. In addition to his Glasgow honorary LLD, he received the Louis Brequet trophy of the Royal Aero Club and Aero Club de France. He was an honorary member of Helicopter Association of Great Britain, Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the first non-American Hon Fellow of the American Helicopter Society.


James Bennett
Aircraft Engineer

Born 1 July 1903, Dumbarton, Scotland.
Died 26 February 1973.
University Link: Alumnus, Honorary Graduate
GU Degrees: BSc, 1923; MA, 1920;
Occupation categories: aircraft engineers
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Record last updated: 25th Mar 2010

University Connections

University Roles

  • Alumnus
  • Honorary Graduate

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