President, 1948-1963; Honorary Professor, 1963-1964
Born in London, he attended Harrow School and studied engineering at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was an apprentice in France where he became a racing driver, but soon moved into aviation and obtained the first pilot's certificate to be issued by the Royal Aero Club.
During the Great War he served with the Royal Flying Corps where he worked on improving aircraft for military purposes. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel despite having flown with a pig to disprove the well-known saying.
In 1918 he was elected Conservative MP for Chatham which he held until 1929 and from 1931 until he became a peer he was MP for Wallasey. In the interwar years he held a number of minor government posts but in 1940 he joined the War Cabinet as Minister of Transport and the following year became Minister of Aircraft production.
His political career came to an end in 1942 following the leaking of a typically ebullient remark at a private dinner that he hoped the German and Russian armies would annihilate each other. However, he continued to exert major influence on the aviation industry in the post-1945 period.