A DREAM of providing a Farnborough memorial to Sir Frank Whittle, inventor of the British turbo jet engine, should soon come true for one of his closest friends.

By the summer a life-size model of the Gloster E28-39 plane could be displayed on the Ively Road roundabout near the airfield entrance.

The aircraft was used in 1941 for the first experimental flight using Sir Frank's engine, and the day the model is hoisted on to the roundabout will be an emotional moment for Roy Fowkes.

It was 15 years ago that he mentioned to Sir Frank that he would like to organise a tribute to his work at Pyestock, Farnborough, the "Home of British Aviation".

"At the time we were travelling home together from the Farnborough Air Show," said Roy, of Brackendale Road, Camberley.

"Sir Frank replied, ‘Don't worry Roy, I'm a has been'. That got to me and I was even more determined to do something in his honour.

"But having put the idea to him, I couldn't for the life of me think what form the tribute should take."

Sadly, the inventor, who did much of his test work at Pyestock, died at his home in America in 1996, well before Roy's suggestion of a memorial took shape.

"I know I'm biased, but Sir Frank was a wonderful chap and a great friend," he said. "I'm sure he would have been delighted with what we've come up with."

The silver coloured Gloster E28-39 model, pictured top, is one of two being built by enthusiastic volunteers at Lutterworth, Leicester, where the former apprentice aircraft fitter started developing his jet engine.

The Farnborough model is well on the way to being finished. "If everything goes according to plan, we should have it on the roundabout by May or June," said Roy.

He and Rushmoor councillor Charlie Fraser-Fleming, who has supported the project from the outset, have raised more than £80,000 to pay for the tribute.

Among the contributors are Lady Whittle, now in her 80s, their son Ian, and Captain Eric Brown, a retired test pilot who flew the Gloucester E28-39. Roy would also like to thank Slough Estates and civil engineers Edmund Nuttall of Camberley, who are doing the engineering work on the traffic island.

Rushmoor Council planners have given the go-ahead for the model to be displayed on the roundabout. Roy now has to obtain a structural safety licence from Hampshire, which he hopes will be just a formality.

Picture: This full size model of a Gloster aircraft is to grace the roundabout at Ively Road, near the entrance to the airfield. It is a tribute to Sir Frank Whittle, pioneer of the jet engine.