Captain Geoffrey de Havilland (July 27, 1882 – May 21, 1965) was an aviation pioneer and aerospace engineer, who founded the De Havilland Aircraft Company Limited at the Stag Lane Aerodrome in 1920. The company would go on to make the Mosquito considered the most versatile warplane ever built, and his Comet the first jet airliner to go into production. De Havilland sold the second plane that he ever built to the Government HM Balloon Factory at Farnborough, which was to become the Royal Aircraft Factory. By the time of the First World War he had become the chief designer at Airco, in Hendon, which produced the majority of British war planes. However, between the wars Airco was bought out and shut down, so with former colleagues De Havilland set up a new company making light aircraft for the booming pleasure sector. By the start of the Second World War the De Havilland Company’s factory was back producing war planes including the Mosquito, which was constructed primarily of wood, avoiding use of strategic materials such as aluminium. The capital for the site was provided by Alan Butler, who had inherited his father’s fortune aged seven, and bought one of de Havilland’s early aircraft – he was reported to be the first private owner/flyer. He became company chairman. Until the factory was built this was agricultural land and part of Burntoak Farm.
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