John William Dunne

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John William Dunne (b. 1875) was a British aeronautical engineer.

Dunne was borne in Ireland, the son of General J. H. Dunne, K.C.B. He studied aeronautics after becoming disabled by enteric in the Boer War.

He befriended H. G. Wells and the two men were mutually influential. Dunne believed the first reports of the Wright Brothers flying at Kitty Hawk. "Abandoning, then, all thoughts of being the first person to fly, he concentrated entirely on the stability problem." He wanted to design a machine, which would be not only "hands-off" but "foolproof". This led to the development of the Dunne-Huntington aircraft, a collaboration with Alfred Kirby Huntington.[1]

He met with Hiram Stevens Maxim and, although he ended up not taking advantage of an offer to use Maxim's lab, he did personally go for a ride on Maxim's whirling arm at 100 miles/hour.[1]

In 1906, at the recommendation of Colonel John Edward Capper, he was assigned to the R.E. Committee and assigned to work on Britain's first military airplane. This began secret trials in the Perthshire highlands in 1907. It didn't fly; they rebuilt and tried again in 1908, achieving some good glides but not full powered flight.[1]

He founded the Blair Atholl Aeroplane Syndicate, Ltd., in 1909. Blair Atholl was where his first glider was demonstrated.

After being barred from flying due to disability, Dunne took his first flight in a Short Brothers aircraft in 1910. Orville Wright and Griffith Brewer saw him fly in the same year.[1]

In Spring 1912 and again in 1913 he went to Paris to check on an aircraft under construction, on contract, by the Astra Company. His contracted pneumonia and his health deteriorated.[1]

The War "found him work of another kind".[1]

On patents he gave the address 16 Charing Cross, London, W.C.

Patents whose inventor or applicant is John William Dunne

Publications by or about John William Dunne


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "Pioneers of Aviation—V: John William Dunne", Aeronautics Vol. XVII No. 298, 28 August 1919, p. 208.


Names John William Dunne
Birth date 1875
Death date
Countries GB
Locations London; Blair Atholl
Occupations aeronautical engineer
Tech areas
Affiliations Blair Atholl Aeroplane Syndicate
Wikidata id Q1632506