My career to the present has covered 58 years, all at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. At the start of my work, the center was called the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory of the NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics). With the advent of the space program, it became the Langley Research Center of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). In subsequent discussions, the name of the center will be abbreviated to simply Langley. During this entire time, my primary interest has been in research in aeronautics and in the related problems of space flight. Actually, I have had two parallel careers because my interest in aeronautics started at a much earlier age, about 9, with the building and flying of model airplanes. This interest has continued through my life. The model airplane hobby has had a powerful influence in contributing to my interest in aeronautical research. These hobby activities will not be mentioned in this account except when they contributed directly to research on full-scale airplanes.
During this period, many advances have occurred in the art and science of aeronautics. My own contributions, like those of other research workers, have largely taken the form of published reports or journal articles. Because of the progress in this field, interest in research done in earlier years can be expected to have declined to the point that these papers are rarely read or even referred to by persons involved in current projects.
The cumulative output of the center and its contributions to the development of the aircraft industry, however, are recognized as being substantial, and an overview of this history has been published (ref. 1. 1). The present volume gives a different perspective on the history of Langley by documenting in some detail the experience of my work as an engineer involved largely with the flight testing of full-scale airplanes in the Flight Research Division. This volume may also serve to convey some knowledge of my work to the general public and to later generations of engineers. Though the emphasis in these discussions is on the technical aspects of the work, some autobiographical notes on my own background and education may be of interest.
The contents of this volume have been selected with the following considerations in mind. First, because most of my more important research has been published in the NACA and NASA reports or in technical journals, all of which are readily available in the NASA libraries, no attempt is made to present the technical contents of these reports. Some of the projects reported will be mentioned to indicate their background or importance. Some other technical work, however, was never published, either because of a lack of general interest or  because the results were not conclusive. In a few cases, a report that I considered interesting was turned down by the editorial committee. I will include these items in the discussion. In addition, I will discuss some things that I have learned from my research projects that did not appear in published reports. In appendix I, a brief autobiography of my early years, written at the age of 14, is presented. Appendix II contains a complete listing of my professional reports and publications.
My experience at Langley has placed me in a position to discuss not only my personal activities, but to comment on some aspects of the research environment and how it changed through the years. Someone reading the early chapters of this account might wonder how a young engineer could become engaged in so many projects of great interest for both military and civil aviation with much research equipment and many facilities immediately available and with apparently little supervision of the technical aspects of the work. There is no doubt that the research environment at Langley was favorable to the development of new ideas while keeping a strong focus on the primary objective of aeronautical research. I will insert chapters in the account at appropriate places to comment on this aspect of the research work.
The subjects discussed in this autobiography, though not highly technical, require use of some concepts and nomenclature familiar to aeronautical engineers, but possibly unfamiliar to persons working in other fields. To make the material more readily understood, I will preface some chapters with brief discussions of the background and the terms used in the topic under consideration.