United Kingdom-based aircraft engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce has opened a support center in Savannah bearing the name a Georgia-born pioneer in women’s aviation who served the U.S. in two wars.
The Rolls-Royce Raines Building, a 62,000-square-foot facility located next to longtime customer Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., honors Georgia “First Lady of Flight” Hazel Jane Raines, who started as a commercial and stunt pilot before blazing a trail for women in the armed forces.
According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia, Ms. Raines was one of 25 women chose to serve in an auxiliary unit to Britain’s Royal Air Force ferrying planes in and out of occupied Europe during World War II. She joined a women’s unit in Texas in 1943, serving as a test pilot for new and repaired aircraft. Called back into active duty during the Korean War, she returned after its conclusion to the United Kingdom to advise pilots in Britain’s Third Air Force.
Born in Macon and a graduate of Wesleyan College, Ms. Raines is said to have started flying in middle Georgia as a result of a dare. She died of a heart attack at age 40 in 1956.
Known to consumers for its luxury cars, Rolls-Royce entered the business aviation sector in 1958 through a partnership with Gulfstream’s first-generation aircraft. The company now produces engines for Gulfstream’s G550 and G650 and is developing the engine for the G700. Rolls-Royce’s 24/7 support operations provide service to 2,100 Gulfstream jets around the world.
The Savannah service center includes a customer support office, an on-wing services repair facility, a completion center and a warehouse. The company noted that the facility would create jobs in the coming years, but it didn’t say how many or attach an investment figure to the facility, which was first announced in November.
For its part, Gulfstream last year opened a new service center near London.