[xix] This book owes much to many hands besides mine. First among those who aided in its preparation is Walter T. Bonney, from whom I inherited the project. The former head of public affairs for the NACA and NASA, Walter undertook to prepare in his retirement under contract to the NASA History Office a history of the NACA. He had completed his research, outlining, and the drafting of three chapters at the time of his death in 1975. This book is not the one that Walter envisioned, but it has drawn heavily on his research and insights.
In the course of my own research I incurred countless other debts, only a few of which may be acknowledged here. The greatest is to Steve Bern of the Washington National Records Center, who personally pulled from the shelves and delivered to me all 480 of the boxes of NACA records I examined at Suitland. In their years of storage, many of these boxes had accumulated inside and out a clinging layer of fine, silty, black dust that blew up when the boxes were disturbed to settle down tenaciously on the lungs, hands, and clothing of any who dared to disturb them. Steve was chosen for this unpleasant job because he was the youngest, strongest, and most good-natured hand at Suitland. He performed with unfailing dispatch, accuracy, and good humor lightening for me an otherwise onerous research task. His supervisor, James Miller, made both our jobs easier in countless ways. William Lewis facilitated the temporary loan of some of the more important boxes so that I might examine them more closely in my office.
Equally helpful service was provided at the National Archives main building by Marilla Guptil, William Cunliffe, and Lee Johnson. The staffs at the Federal Archives and Records Centers in San Bruno and Luna Niguel, Calif., did the same.
The late Alfred E. String made the NASA Headquarters Technical Library a productive place to work and helped me gain access to the resources of the Library of Congress. Grace Reader, Eleanor Burdette, and Mary Anderson were unfailingly helpful and solicitous in digging out material in the Headquarters technical library or in drawing items from other NASA libraries or libraries outside the agency. Walter Bonney spoke often of how helpful Grace Reader had been to him; Eleanor Burdette was especially helpful to me in unraveling the NACA filing system for technical publications.
[xx] NASA Archivist Lee Saegesser shared with me his files, his institutional memory, and his keen knack for ferreting out elusive information. Others who helped unearth information were Lee M. Pearson, former historian of the Naval Air Systems Command; the research librarians at the Federal Aviation Administration library; the librarians and archivists at the National Air and Space Museum; and the staff at the Smithsonian Institution Archives.
Richard Layman of Langley Research Center has been a constant source of encouragement and assistance. Largely through his efforts, Langley has developed a program that promises to preserve and disseminate the rich history of the oldest NACA research center. My research at Lewis Research Center was facilitated by Paul Bohn, and by staff members at both Lewis and Plum Brook, where most of the center's records are stored.
Duane Reed, chief of the Manuscript Division of the U.S. Air Force Academy library, opened up to me not only the rich collection of John F. Victory papers, but also his home and his infectious brand of backcountry charm.
The complete draft of this manuscript was read by Ira H. Abbott, David K. Allison, Frank Anderson, John V. Becker, John Duberg, Richard P. Hallion, James R. Hansen, I.B. Holley, Pamela Mack, Axel Mattson, Homer Newell, Frank J. Rowsome, T.K. Smull, Walter Vincenti, and Monte D. Wright. All of them made significant contributions to my understanding and explication of the NACA. Some of them take strong exception to many of the interpretations in the book; by helping me to improve the manuscript, they have not assumed responsibility for the errors that have defied their counsel.
The same may be said for my editor, Eleanor Ritchie, who strove mightily to save me from myself, or rather to save the reader from my writing style. Whatever clarity has been achieved here owes much to her; for the residual murkiness she is blameless. Marion Davis typed the manuscript and prepared most of the index with quiet efficiency and patience.