Geoffrey de Havilland built motorcycle 1901 to commute to engineering school. Designed buses 1908, teamed with marine engineer F.T. Hearle, rented workshop off Bothwell St, Fulham, London, built biplane and tried to fly it at Seven Barrows, near Newbury, but wings broke. Repaired and improved biplane made good flight 10 September 1910. Flew for an hour at Farnborough 14 January 1911, two months after DH appointed designer and test pilot at HM Balloon Factory. Designed Factory aircraft (see Royal Aircraft Factory) until he joined Airco June 1914. Airco closed after war, and DH formed own company, de Havilland Aircraft Co., 25 September 1920. Occupied 2 sheds at Stag Lane, Edgware, then north-west of London. Began with types designed at Airco, starting numerically with D.H.11 Oxford twin-engined bomber. From then a profusion of light aircraft, airliners, trainers, racers and a fighter (D.H.77) made first flights at Stag Lane, notably including D.H.60 Moth (22 February 1925), ending with D.H.86 4-engined airliner (14 January 1934). Stag Lane by then engulfed in London's urban sprawl, so moved to new site at Hatfield, where all subsequent prototypes built starting with D.H.87 Hornet Moth (9 May 1934). Numerically most important product D.H.82A Tiger Moth II, total including Queen Bee target version over 9,000; parent company built 1,150 pre-war and 795 during war. By far most important product D.H.98 Mosquito, 7,781 including 1,032 by D.H. Canada and 212 by D.H. Australia. D.H.100 Vampire jet fighter and trainer flew 20 September 1943, total 4,206 but over 1,000 overseas and nearly 1,200 by English Electric. D.H.104 Dove flew September 1945, 542 but attempts to produce successor failed. D.H.106 Comet, world's pioneer jetliner (27 July 1949), suffered structural problem and enjoyed only limited success. In 1948 large factory at Chester (called Hawarden or Broughton) taken over from Vickers-Armstrongs and tooled up for aircraft production, building successively Vampire, Venom, Dove, Heron, Comet, 125 and Airbus wings. Small run of DH.121 Trident built Hatfield. Gipsy engines led to D.H. Engine Co. 1 February 1944; 1935 licence for Hamilton Standard propellers led to Propeller Division which became D.H. Propellers Ltd 1946, which managed future missile programmes. Parent company de Havilland Holdings, formed 1955, purchased by Hawker Siddeley Group January 1960, forming de Havilland Division until 1 April 1965 when Hawker Siddeley Aviation operated as centrally controlled company.

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