Joseph Sorota, GE engineer and member of a top secret World War II engineering team called the “Hush-Hush Boys,” passed away on January 7th at the age of 96.
As WWII was getting underway in Europe, Sorota studied engineering at Northeastern University and began working in a GE factory in Lynn, Massachusetts. In 1941, Sorota was tapped for a secret project: Frank Whittle’s jet engine – the first of its kind – had been sent to the U.S. for improvement.
The Hush-Hush Boys – so named, according to Sorota, because they couldn’t talk about their work without the risk of being shot – were tasked with taking the engine apart and rebuilding it. They needed to make it not only better, but capable of being mass-produced. Sorota and the others had a prototype ready in just five months.
He not only worked on the I-A – that first jet engine, but also worked on technology that went into the J47 – the first commercially certified aviation jet in the U.S. “It never dawned on me,” Sorota said, “that it was going to turn over the entire aircraft industry the way it did.”
Joseph Sorota eventually left GE, but his contributions to jet engine technology changed the face of aviation.
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