All government agencies, the NACA included, run on money. Funding is a measure of institutional health and prospects. With more funding, an agency can presumably do more of whatever it does, be it defending the country, delivering the mail, or conducting aeronautical research. Over the years, especially through World War II, the NACA had always gotten pretty much what it wanted. It was a small, efficient organization with a good reputation in the Bureau of the Budget and in Congress, operating in a field where few bureaucrats or lawmakers were qualified to criticize its work. There is evidence that the NACA tended to ask for as much money as it thought it could get, leaving itself open to charges of conservatism and lack of vision; but it generally fared well in the Washington scramble for funding.
Even after World War II, when the Committee was at its nadir in reputation and influence, when it was losing important battles over the Unitary Wind-Tunnel Plan, missile-research coordination, and nuclear powered aircraft, it still won steadily increasing funding from Congress.
Nothing prepared the Committee for the unprecedented funding reverses it suffered in the early 1950s. Shortage of money dominated these years, as never before in the Committee's past. Analysis of these money crises becomes an analysis of the Committee's political history as well, showing how the NACA budget (and hence the NACA) fared in comparison with aviation in general, the military services, and federal funding for research and development; why the NACA's funding was cut in these years and by whom; how the Committee responded to the cuts; and what all this portended for the future.
The NACA had prospered in war. World War I had provided the impetus for its creation in 1915, after several aborted attempts in the preceding years of peace revealed how difficult it was to move Congress when the national interest was not transparently obvious. The  money made available in World War I bought the facilities at Langley Field that were to guarantee the NACA's ability to conduct its own research. In World War II the NACA had quadrupled in staff, funding, and facilities, a growth from which it had, not receded appreciably in postwar years, despite congressional enthusiasm for demobilization and retrenchment. The NACA had every reason to believe that the Korean war, though officially only a police action would result in a similar expansion of the Committee's activities a resources.
If anything, the NACA might even have thought it would profit more from the Korean war than from previous hostilities. First, the lesson of World War II that the Committee rehearsed most relentlessly was still fresh in the mind of Congress: drawing the NACA away from its fundamental research during the war to clean up and test military aircraft had exhausted the nation's supply of basic aeronautical knowledge. In future wars, the NACA would have to do specific work for the military and keep up its fundamental program as well.
Furthermore, the NACA was more closely tied to the military after World War II than before, even though the military had always been at the heart of the NACA mandate and activities. When Congress insisted that NACA construction required separate authorizations before funds were appropriated, this function was assumed by the House and Senate armed services committees. When the United States Code appeared in 1948, the NACA had been shifted from Title 49, Transportation, to Title 50, War. The following year the Bureau of the Budget shifted the NACA from functional classification "Transportation and Communications"  to "National Defense" because the committee's growth in the previous decade had "been based entirely on military considerations" and "all NACA officials agree[d] that the primary mission of the agency for the foreseeable future [was] military in nature." There was a conviction within the BoB and elsewhere that, in the future, technological fallout would rain down from military developments onto civilian concerns; thus, the former should get most of the nation's research money. Though the entire aircraft industry played an increasingly important role in NACA affairs, it was primarily the manufacturing branch concerned mostly with military contracts that held sway in NACA councils. The aircraft operators were only beginning to be heard. 1
When military expenditures, especially for aviation, rose dramatically in response to the North Korean invasion of South Korea in June 1950, there was every reason to believe that NACA appropriations would rise with them. The services publicly avowed their intention to rely heavily on the NACA both for cleanup and testing and for fundamental data; they went so far as to assume primary responsibility for defending NACA increases before Congress.2
The theme of the NACA campaign appeared in the Annual Report for 1950 just four months after the North Korean invasion. "For the third time in its history," the report began,
Behind the scenes, the NACA was making an even stronger pitch, looking toward an expansion barely suggested in the annual report. Late in 1951, John Stack of the Langley laboratory, one of the world's leading authorities on high speed research and twice recipient of the Collier trophy, prepared a VIP briefing on "NACA research potential and current and future needs." Relying on intelligence reports from Korea and the Soviet Union, Stack extrapolated the observed performance of the Russian MIG-15 (about mach 1) and the reported performance  of the MiG-19 (at least mach 1.5) and concluded that the Soviets had aircraft capable of operating at still higher speeds. "We are lagging," he concluded, partly "because of the common but erroneous concept of the Russians as a backward peasantry deficient to the extreme in the industrial arts." He thanked "the Providence of the Korean 'Police Action" for revealing to the U.S. that the Soviets after World War II had engaged in an enormous aeronautical research effort far outstripping that of the United State. One NACA staff member counseled that Stack depict this as the "same story as mid-thirties Hitler effort," which in fact it did resemble.4
Stack used speed, "the prime requisite for military superiority over the enemy's airplanes," to demonstrate h w far the United States was behind. He divided-the modern history of flight into three periods. In the subsonic period (from 1925 to 1945) speeds increased from about 150 miles per hour to 500 miles per hour, or about 16.5 miles per hour per year. In the transonic era (from 1946 to 1951) speeds of U.S. planes rose to 680 miles per hour, increasing at an annual rate of almost twice the subsonic era. But this was slow by a third to match the MiG-15, less than half the rate necessary to match the MiG-19. 5
The reason for this, according to Stack, was the shortage of American research facilities and personnel compared to those of the Russians. NACA personnel figures showed at 84 man-years lay behind every mile-per-hour speed increase in subsonic era, whereas 227 man-years were required in the transonic era. The increment was dictated by the complexities of high speed flight, in which an aircraft had to perform acceptably in the subsonic regime for takeoff and landing and to do its operational flying through and above the speed of sound, where the researcher as yet had no proven theory to guide him. The NACA laboratories were short by 50 percent of the level needed to keep pace with the Russians assuming that Russian scientists were as efficient as those in the NACA, which Stack clearly would not allow. He cited intelligence sources suggesting that "the Russians expended at least three times the man power in their research establishments that we did."
Therefore, concluded Stack, the NACA should expand from its 1951 manning level of about 7000 to 10,000 in 1952 and 14,000 the following year. New facilities, comparable to those assumed to be in the hands of the Russians, should, be made available to the expanded staff, so that the NACA research equipment would once more have the level of sophistication it enjoyed in the 1930s. In essence, Stack was arguing for a doubling of the NACA during the next two years, and he warned that if the war situation "remains tense" thereafter, "further expansion to match our adversary will likely be necessary."
 Stack's case was riddled with dubious assumptions and specious logic, but it clearly revealed the thinking of the NACA: the Korean War would lead to renewed expansion. 6
The opposite occurred. Cuts had already been made in the NACA appropriation for fiscal 1951 when the Korean War broke out in the summer of 1950. These were restored in a 1951 supplemental appropriation and in an increased budget for 1952 but thereafter, for three consecutive years, NACA funding fell, the first such declines in the Committee's history. In the summer of 195 the Senate refused to exempt the NACA from a 10-percent general reduction in appropriations, "one of the very few agencies in the national defense field" to be so treated, reported a BoB official. While the Korean War was still going on Congress reduced 1953 NACA funding below the 1952 level both for construction and equipment and for salaries and expenses. In the next two years it slashed construction and equipment appropriations to the point where the minor increases in salaries and expenses the Committee won were insufficient to keep the total funding at the previous year's level. In the next four years after 1952, the Committee received only a single, small supplemental appropriation.7
These figures, serious enough in their own right, were more so in comparison with other government expenditures. By 1953, U.S military aircraft production was almost four times the 1950 level, the military budget had more than tripled, and military obligations for research and development had almost quadrupled. In the same period the NACA operating budget had increased a mere 15 percent and the Committee's authorizations for new construction never regained the 1950 level which had included funds for the unitary wind tunnel plan. In short, the NACA was getting a smaller slice of a larger pie, just when it was demanding a larger portion to keep the United States abreast of the Soviet Union in an increasing expensive area of international competition.8
Some of the NACA's losses in the early 1950s can be attributed to the advent of the Eisenhower administration. Even before taking office, Eisenhower began working toward a negotiated settlement in Korea; the achievement of that goal in July 1953 deflated, if it did not eliminate, the national emergency. Eisenhower also introduced early in his first term an economy drive to balance the federal budget. The resulting trims in expenditures, especially in 1954 and 1955, hit all agencies hard, even the Department of Defense. And Eisenhower brought into the White House a skepticism about research and development that was soon to pervade his administration and be most colorfully reflected by Secretary of Defense Charles E. ("Engine I Charlie") Wilson, famous for allowing that he didn't care why the grass was green or why fried potatoes turned brown. The new National Security Council concluded  that "the Federal Government is spending too much money on research and development and is not spending it very well." The NACA suffered along with other federal research agencies in this climate.9
But the Eisenhower administration alone does not account for all the cutbacks suffered by the NACA in the early fifties. The real villain of this piece was in Congress.
The NACA nemesis of the 1950s was Congressman Albert F. Thomas, chairman of the Independent Offices Appropriations Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. More than any other man in Washington, Thomas found fault with the NACA and worked to pare its size and prerogatives. In much of this, he was speaking for his subcommittee and for what Victory called in 1950 "a very troublesome Congress."10 But there was more to it than that. His name appears over and over again in the records of the NACA and the Bureau of the Budget, not as mere spokesman but as leader of the attack. There is no doubt that Thomas was the locus of opposition to the Committee in the 1950s.
 The Bureau of the Budget believed, from Thomas's public statements in committee, that the bone he had to pick with the NACA was overexpansion. The BoB staff saw no particular malice or III will in this, for this was a common theme in the House Appropriations Committee and its subcommittees at the time, especially with regard to research and development expenditures. When the Korean War broke out, however, and Thomas's committee continued to cut NACA appropriations below the amounts recommended by the Armed Services Committee, the BoB staff became perplexed.11
The question of authorizations was one example of what the NACA was up against. Though the issue has a long, history, it was Thomas who finally forced the NACA to obtain authorizing legislation for its construction appropriations. Following the explosive growth of government in World War II, BoB required all federal agencies in 1945 to submit draft legislation covering any appropriations that might be subject to a point of order in Congress, i.e., that might be in technical violation of laws and procedures governing the appropriation of federal funds. The NACA declared itself blameless, but the BoB found several questionable areas, the most serious being die appropriation of construction funds without authorizing legislation. Victory took the position that the organic NACA act, contained in the naval appropriations bill of 1915, met this requirement. The Bureau disagreed, but deferred action until the next NACA construction request. In the meantime, the NACA Membership Act of 1948 seemed to confirm Victory's position, for it in essence repassed the Committee's organic legislation without any substantive change except for membership. 12
Albert Thomas, however, was not satisfied. In 1949 he raised the issue again, stating that his committee believed that "an agency which has grown to the size and importance attained by NACA should have broad, basic legislation authorizing all functions, including authorization for the construction of specific projects." Though the House Armed Services Committee delayed this action for a year, legislation passed in 1950, authorizing the NACA to "equip, maintain, and operate offices, laboratories, and research stations under its direction" and to "acquire additional land for, undertake additional construction at, and purchase and install additional equipment for existing laboratories and research stations under its direction."13 In the long run this legislation probably helped the NACA, lending to its construction requests the endorsement of the House Armed Services Committee, but it was viewed by Victory at least as an unwelcome explication of the specific powers of the NACA. Victory preferred to construe these on a rather sweeping scale from the Committee's broad and vague organic legislation. If the NACA had to get specific congressional authorization for something as basic as acquiring and equipping laboratories, it  might end by having to submit other traditional prerogatives of the Committee to congressional review.
In the same breath with which he launched his campaign to force authorizing legislation upon the NACA, Thomas suggested that the basic organizational structure of the Committee should be changed. He stated that his committee felt that the importance of the NACA, "which is the backbone of all future development in the field of national defense as far as aeronautics is concerned, justifies the appointment of a full-time Chairman at $15,000 per annum to be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate." The resulting organization, with a paid full-chairman and an unpaid part-time board, would have paralleled arch and Development Board and the Munitions Board of the Military Establishment. These bodies, however, were soon to prove unsatisfactory and fall victims to different reorganizations. The Bureau of the Budget was mildly opposed to the Thomas proposal. John Victory was adamant. He personally enlisted the congressman from the district that included the Ames laboratory to head off the Thomas proposal on the floor of Congress. This accomplished, Victory visited Thomas to present the NACA's case: the Committee had been successful because it had attracted the best men of American aviation to serve as a patriotic duty. To pay the chairman would be to reduce he position to that of a hired hand, and demean the other committee members as well. Important and influential men might serve voluntarily on a prestigious committee as a civic duty, but they might be reluctant to serve as an advisory, board to a paid government functionary.14
Whether or not Thomas found this convincing, he abandoned his proposal to change the chairmanship of he NACA to a paid position. According to Victory, Thomas confessed he hadn't understood the full ramifications of his proposal, but he made clear the motivation behind it. He closed their interview by warning victory that any agency grown as large as the NACA had to expect that its strange type of organization would be subject to criticism. He asserted that he was just trying to help, by providing the Committee with a better scheme of organization. Hugh Dryden, for one, was willing to accept this claim, interpreting Thomas' proposal as a compliment to Hunsaker.15
The depth of the congressman's admiration for the NACA chairman was thrown into some doubt the following year when Hunsaker appeared before Thomas to defend the 1952 appropriation request. The following excerpt from the hearings (later excised at Thomas's request) reveals neither man in his best light.
There is in Thomas's performance that day something of the anti-intellectual, something of the conscientious congressman, and something of the bully. In Hunsaker's uncharacteristic response there is something of the frustration the NACA was coming to feel for this man so important to its fortunes. One thing was sure: the conflict between the NACA and Albert Thomas had become personal and intense. In 1952 Thomas asked the General Accounting Office to audit the NACA. The report provided grist for both Thomas's mill and the  NACA's. Generally the auditors were! Favorably impressed with the Committee's performance, advising Congress that
On the other hand, the accountants found that the NACA was using salaries and expenses funds for construction and equipment, a practice reminiscent of the old Committee technique of procuring facilities and then demanding from Congress the personnel and resources to staff them. The GAO recommended that in the future Congress should specify the purposes for which it was appropriating construction and equipment funds and explicitly prohibit the Committee from using salaries and expenses funds for this purpose.
The GAO recommended that the Committee establish positions for a comptroller and a legal officer, to gain tighter control over internal  fiscal management and external contracting and procurement. In every aspect of NACA activity, from purpose and organization through research activities to administration, the auditors found evidence of an agency that had outgrown its old modus operandi without adopting a new one. Because aeronautics had grown so diverse and complex in the United States, the report stated, it, was "no longer practicable for the NACA to supervise and direct all of the Nation's aeronautical research," as intended in its organic legislation, Research authorizations were so generalized and so numerous, and procedures so varied from laboratory to laboratory, that the director of the NACA had neither control over the actual research being conducted nor reliable data about research projects in progress. Management decisions were being made without adequate information, and administrative control from headquarters was lacking because of the "rapid expansion and decentralization of NACA" and the research autonomy accorded to the laboratories. Whether or not the management criteria employed by the GAO were appropriate to a research organization, the report appeared to provide ample evidence of inefficiency and waste. This was just the picture of the NACA, in fact of all government agencies, that seemed to be entertained by Albert Thomas. He had lectured Hunsaker in 1951, cannot escape the fact that private enterprise is certainly from 20 to 30 percent more efficient than the Government." The NACA survived the GAO audit of 1953, and similar audits in 1954 and 1955, without radically changing its organization or procedures; but these ordeals could hardly be expected to increase the Committee's credit with Albert Thomas.18
Of course, many of Thomas's criticisms of the NACA only reflected opinions widely shared on Capitol Hill. For example, the Senate Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Department echoed Thomas's concern that the organizational structure of the NACA was inappropriate to its size. A report by that committee in 1948 had identified only two "committees" among the independent agencies of the Executive Branch. Only nine independent agencies had more people than the NACA; the Department of Labor had considerably fewer. The Senate Committee on Appropriations brought up the old complaint of how much NACA work at government expense profited private industry. And a BoB official noted in 1953 that "there have been many broad statements recently on the amount of duplication in research and development program and facilities," implying doubts that the NACA had to assuage when it took its construction authorization bill before the Senate Armed Services Committee. When the British successfully flew the Comet jet airliner years ahead of any comparable American plane, John Victory found himself before the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, trying to convince the members that this was a  question of economics and not a shortcoming of American aeronautical capability.19 Thomas was by no means the only member of Congress turning a jaundiced eye on the NACA In the early 1950s. He was merely the most visible, the most relentless, and the most powerful.
This catalog of woes for the NACA does not mean that the Committee had no defenders on the Hill. The armed services committees of' both houses, friendly as they were to t e military and attentive to recommendations from men in uniform generally gave the NACA unstinting support and encouragement, and the Senate Committee on Appropriations was consistently more sympathetic to the NACA than was its counterpart in the House. Senator Richard Nixon promised in 1952 to see that any cuts in NACA appropriations would be restored in the Senate, and presumably he carried that disposition into the Eisenhower administration when he became ice president the following year. And congressmen from districts were NACA laboratories and stations were located could generally be relied upon to support the Committee. Unfortunately, none of the congressmen were so well placed or so committed to their views as was Albert Thomas.20
When asked on a Washington radio program in late 1952 to name his most difficult administrative problem, John Victory replied "trying to remain a discreet and ethical scientific organization" in the face of congressional indifference to what he saw as the overriding importance of aeronautical research.21 Cuts impose upon the NACA in these years were so unprecedented, so incongruous with the war emergency and the growing demands of the military for help in its expanding aviation program, and so frustrating to the members and staff of the NACA, who felt hobbled in a desperate race, that they were sorely pressed to control their tempers and their scruples. The righteousness of their cause seemed to justify extraordinary means, but they resisted the temptation to move dramatically. The response of the Committee, at least at first, was passive and defensive. Deferentially the NACA submitted supplemental appropriation requests to Congress. When these too were rejected, the Committee in soldierly fashion tightened its belt and resolved to make do with less.
In its relations with the military and industry, whom Hunsaker now referred to openly as the Committee's clients, the NACA was equally cautious not to make waves, not to antagonize those to whom it looked for support. As in the past, it answered all military requests for research or assistance, even those that contributed nothing to fundamental knowledge. Of course it preferred investigations of fundamental significance and asked the services to restrict requests to this category....
....when possible. But the press of war demand d that the NACA engages anew in cleanup and testing and problem solving. With the memory of World War II still fresh and the need for fundamental research in high-speed flight ever more pressing, this pattern was especially distasteful to the Committee. Short of turning its back on the military, however, there seemed no help for it.22
The NACA even relinquished its 1940s dream of cornering the market on supersonic research in the Unite States. By 1953 the air force had run into serious problems with its new engineering research center. The contractor hired to design, construct, staff, and operate the center had been repeatedly late and over cost, a result that many of the NACA staff had predicted in the 1940s when they saw how inexperienced the firm was in aeronautical research construction. The poor performance, coupled with handsome salaries to top administrative personnel and profit margins as high as 60 percent, finally brought on a congressional investigation and the suggestion that the NACA take over the center. The Committee quickly declined, more anxious, it seems, to stay on the good side of the air force than to gain the control over supersonic research that it once coveted The air force was determined to hang onto the center and run it by contract, and the NACA was not about to cross its most important single client.23
 With industry, the story was much the same. As most of the Committee's work for industry was on military projects, requests for investigations, though they may have originated with industry, came through the services and received the same treatment as military requests. This had always been going on to a certain degree; now it was prevalent. The one area where industry was entitled t call upon the NACA for its own work was in the unitary wind tunnels that were coming into operation in the early 1950s. As dictated y Congress, the NACA had established procedures guaranteeing that these tunnels would be available to industry for development work. The same procedures were subsequently adopted for all NACA tunnel is, an indication of both the growing influence of the industry on the NACA and the little demand that the industry in practice made for the tunnels. Working primarily for the military, the industry seldom needed tunnel time for civilian projects, in either the supersonic or the other tunnels.24
The one area in which the NACA did hold its ground and deny to industry a much sought after concession as the collection of fees. The aircraft manufacturers wanted the NACA to charge fees for all tunnel work, arguing that payment would give them the right to conduct investigations their own way, without the services or the NACA looking over their shoulders, and without the hazard of proprietary information's falling into the wrong hands. The NACA agreed to charge fees for strictly proprietary work, but not for contract work. The effect of  charging industry fees on development work under contract to the military services would be for aeronautical R&D funds to pass from the military, through the contractor who would remove an overhead percentage and via the NACA back into the general fund of the Treasury. The NACA could not use this money to conduct other operations, but would have to do additional bookkeeping to account for it. The services would incur a needless drain on their research funds. Better that Congress appropriate to the NACA the funds needed to do the government's investigations, rather than appropriate the same money plus the contractor's fee to the air force, which was in less financial trouble than the NACA.25
This skirmish the NACA won, because all the government members (and even some of the industry ones) agreed. On all else, however, the industry pretty much had its way. In 1953, industry representatives chaired all five of the NACA's main technical committees, 16 of the 21 technical subcommittees, and both of die special subcommittees. By this time, more than 40 percent of all technical committee memberships were in the hands of industry representatives and their numbers were still growing. This is not to imply a conspiracy at work, or a monolithic industry subverting the NACA to its own purposes: Industry had merely won the voice in NACA affair that it had wanted all along.26
The NACA's deferential courting of the military and industry, intensified in the early 1950s, proved enormously successful. To the collection of compliments that Victory amassed in the period 1952 to 1956, he gave the filing title "Bouquets to NACA." These were spent like so much currency all over Washington and contributed to what one supporter characterized as "as fine a public relations job as it is possible to do." The faults and shortcomings of the Committee were kept within chambers, and the public image of a devoted, competent, efficient agency was polished and propagated in hopes of reversing the funding trend of recent years. Nor was this all puffery, for there is every evidence in the minutes of NACA meetings and in correspondence with both industry and the services that the NACA was in fact doing a commendable job and meeting the demands of both its major clients. Gone are the complaints, grievances, and grumbling that rumbled through the NACA files in the immediately postwar period. With its principal clients, at least, the NACA had recouped its past losses and had once more become the indispensable institution it had always tried to be. The problem was that in the process it had reduced itself to being almost entirely a service agency to those clients. No longer was it the autonomous, premier aeronautical research institution in America, the central clearinghouse of aeronautical intelligence and information, the coordinator and arbiter of research priorities, the last word on....
....questions of usage and standardization, the pioneer on the frontiers of flight blazing a trail through a forest of fundamental mysteries. The NACA still performed all of these functions to a degree, but the no longer characterized the agency.27
Internally, the austerity and adversity of these years were just as influential in slowly shifting the character of the agency. Shortages of funds began to intrude for the first time on the NACA's ability to attract and retain a qualified staff. As earl as 1927, Joseph Ames had enunciated the Committee's position on his issue when he told the Bureau of the Budget that "our Committee will be doing its duty to the country only if it finds the right man and is able to make him contented with his surroundings." At the time, this problem seemed one of recruitment and policy entirely within the control of the Committee. He told the Bureau:
Over the years, this philosophy had been adequate to the need. In the 1920s, the NACA successfully recruited young engineers fresh out of college and trained them on the job. The facilities and the reputation of the Committee attracted these men, offering (as one recruit later recalled) a better graduate education in aeronautical engineering than he could get anywhere else in the world. What is more, the aircraft industry had its ups and downs, while the NACA provided steady employment and security in an unsure profession. The Depression and the austere years of the mid and late 1930s had made employment with the Committee even more attractive.
World War II changed all that. The mushrooming aircraft industry paid top dollar to attract the best engineering talent. This pressure, combined with the draft and the Committee's own growth, put the NACA in a personnel bind during World War II from which it never fully recovered. Though the NACA finally worked out its personnel problems with the Selective Service System and negotiated a new and acceptable agreement after the war, it never was able to counter high industry salaries. All of government was suffering in the postwar years from industry's ability to buy up the best scientists and engineers, but aeronautics led all the industries except petroleum in the disparity between government and industry salaries.29
The resultant drain of aeronautical engineers from the NACA tended to raise the average age of the professional staff, for the old NACA hands resisted the temptation and stayed on out of loyalty or inertia, while the best youngsters served a brief apprenticeship with the Committee and then took their talent and their experience to higher paying jobs in industry.
To stem this tide, the NACA tried throughout its last ten years, generally through the efforts of John Victory, to secure higher pay for its employees.30 Two mechanisms, both originated independently of the NACA, were quickly appropriated to the Committee's needs: money and education. Congress passed Public Law 80-313 in 1947 as an "interim measure" to allow the secretary of defense to pay as many as 45 of his scientific and technical employees salaries ranging up to those of cabinet secretaries. The pay and prestige of these PL-313 positions, as they came to be called, were expected to aid the secretary in recruiting the technical personnel needed in his department. Though industry still paid more, PL-313 was meant to close the gap enough to make government a competitive employer.
 Amendments to this basic act in 1949, 1956, and 1958 raised the salary levels and also gave to the NACA a smaller, but significant, number of positions: 10 in 1949, 30 in 1956, and 90 in 1958.31 These allotments were fewer than the NACA requested (in fact, insisted it must have) but they were enough to reduce its personnel drain. The Committee did not, however, use these positions to recruit new men to the NACA as the original legislation had intended, but rather to reward those who had stayed over the years and had declined higher paying offers from the outside. There was logic and justice in this policy, but the long range effect was to retain the old-timers while giving up the bright young men to industry. Of course the latter might stay on in hopes of succeeding in time to the higher paying positions now at the NACA's disposal, but many of them felt that an increased salary in hand was worth a PL-313 in the bush.
Two other recruitment and retention tools allowed the NACA to offer higher salaries beginning in 1949. The Executive Salary Act, which raised Dryden's salary and led to the clarification of his role as head of the agency, also removed him from the PL-313 quota, thus allowing the Committee one more high paid billet. More important, the Classification Act of 1949, besides changing federal position classification into a single orderly ranking of 15 General Schedule grades (GS 1 through GS 15), created three new grades (GS 16 through GS 18), which would be controlled by the Civil Service Commission. In 1949 there were 400 positions in these grades; in 1958 there were more than 1500, and many additional ones provided by special legislation. Agencies could apply to the commission for and number of these, which the commission distributed on the basis of need. The NACA tried repeatedly and aggressively to secure as many of these as it could, again distributing what it won almost exclusively to old NACA hands. In its first round, the NACA received only three GS 16s. By 1956 this number had been increased to three GS 17s and 25 GS 16s, far fewer than the Committee felt it deserved. Part of the reason for the commission's reluctance to grant more supergrades to the NACA was that the Committee already had quotas for PL-313 positions. Part of the reason was that many posts recommended by the NACA for the higher rates were administrative jobs that the Civil Service Commission considered Inappropriate for special salaries within a scientific and technical organization, The NACA was persuasive when it argued that it had to pay the chief of the Supersonic Propulsion Division a high salary to keep him from going over to industry, but it failed to explain why the headquarters security officer should be paid more than a security officer in any other agency.
In the long run, then, the government salary measures instituted after World War II to slow the drain of scientific and technical personnel  to industry, while they helped the NACA somewhat, also created for the agency (and for other agencies as well) a dilemma that it never resolved. In attempting to compete in the marketplace with salaries that approached those of industry, the government was placing on certain of its employees a value unrelated to the standards of merit normally applied to civil servants: loyalty, competence, seniority. Dryden and Victory wanted to reward members of the NACA staff who had contributed most to the success of the agency, but the PL-313 law was designed to reward those in demand or, the outside. To use the positions as the commission intended, Dryden and Victory would have had to pass over administrators of long and faithful service to the NACA in order to reward some novice whiz kids more important perhaps to the field of aeronautics than they were to the NACA. That raised a nice question of which was more important to the NACA. That aeronautics or the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the ends or the means. Here, as elsewhere, the Committee was sliding into the natural but dangerous conviction that the means were more important than the ends.
The second method used by the NACA in the 1940s and 1950s to help solve the retention problem was the training of key personnel. If the NACA still wanted to recruit young engineers and train them on the job and at the same time stay abreast of the state of the art and keep its own personnel competitive in accomplishment and credentials with those competing for super grade and PL 313 positions, it had to have an active program allowing employees to return to school for graduate work and refresher courses. Again, the NACA was asking for a program already enjoyed by other agencies in Washington; in this case, it had little trouble in getting Congress to go along. Public Law 472 of 1950 authorized the Committee to grant its employees up to one year of paid leave for graduate study or research at accredited institutions of higher education.32
While wrestling with these personnel problems in the early 1950s, the NACA also had to decide which research it could undertake with increasing demands and decreasing funds. On the one hand it had to continue the research programs in which it had labored for years: i.e., traditional aeronautics. On the other hand it had to decide which of the new technologies emerging after World War II warranted part of the Committee's attention and resources. With those resources as tight as they were, these decisions essentially had to be made year-by-year, in spite of the general commitment the NACA had undertaken in the 1940s. Now every decision to pursue some line of research was at the same time a decision to abandon or neglect some other line.
Of the new fields, the Committee's Annual Report for 1955 declared missiles and nuclear propulsion for aircraft to be the most important.  But that declaration was as much a public posture reflecting the world strategic situation and the policy of the Eisenhower administration, as it was an accurate reflection of the Committee's priorities. About this time the NACA also concluded what came to be called Round I of the supersonic flight research program and committed itself to Round 11: the design, development, and flight of a mach 7 aircraft capable of flying to "several hundred thousand" fee what was to become the X-15. When an industry representative on t e Aerodynamics Committee suggested that "the NACA is the logical organization to carry on the basic studies in space flight control and stability," the Committee adopted a resolution that "the NACA devote a modest effort to problems associated with unmanned and manned flight at altitudes from 50 miles to infinity and at speeds from mach umber 10.0 to the velocity of escape from the earth's gravity." When this resolution came before the next regular meeting of the NACA Executive Committee, Dryden pointed out the sort of bind such proposals imposed on the Committee. If such a project were put on the NACA's list with low priority, nothing would be done about it, for there were too many higher priority projects ahead of it. But the Executive Committee felt the recommendation had merit, and as the NACA had learned with jet propulsion there were hazards in not taking the lead in introducing new technologies. In this case the NACA weasel worded its way out of the bind by resolving to devote a modest effort to "the definition and formulation of the problems" of space flight, rather than to actual solution of the problems. But this piece of legerdemain did not hide the fact that the NACA was spread too thin to cover all the bases. It had to gamble on what to pursue and what to neglect, and its continuing claim that it was responsible for predicting the future course of aviation grew more hazardous with each guess.33
One crisis of priorities in these years had longer history and was more completely of the Committee's own making. Structural design was identified in 1952 as a major impediment to the technological advancement of high speed flight. Ironically, the Aerodynamics Committee had initiated the poll of the aircraft manufacturing industry that produced this consensus. Aerodynamics had always been the queen of the aeronautical sciences and the NACA's premier activity, dominating its research program and making the wind tunnel a symbol of NACA investigations. The danger of this preoccupation had been pointed up on the eve of World War II, when it as discovered too late that propulsion was the reverse salient holding back faster flight. Now the NACA faced a similar crisis, but in a time of severely limited budgets. Though the Aerodynamics Committee had discovered and made known the problem, it was unwilling to sacrifice any of its own programs and projects in order to augment structures research, even as industry was.....
...insisting that the NACA program in structures had to be increased as much as fivefold. 34
The Structures Committee took up this campaign and, in the wake of a series of structural failures in high performance military aircraft, prevailed upon the NACA to venture a supplemental appropriation request in 1952. Though the Committee members no doubt considered the request necessary and correct, they seem not to have been completely alive to its adverse implications. At the Bureau of the Budget, Willis Shapley defended the request, but another staff member noted that Congress would not only suspect an attempt to circumvent the cuts recently made in the 1953 NACA budget, but would also find it "difficult to understand why it took so long o identify the urgency of this problem." It looked as if the NACA had been caught unawares again, as it had with jets in World War II. Still BoB sent the request to Congress. Congress denied it.35
In the summer of 1954, the NACA cried enough. At the direction of the Main Committee, Hunsaker requested and was granted a meeting with President Eisenhower. The chairman and Dryden told the president that they needed a $13 million increase in the NACA budget for 1956, to place the unitary tunnels into full operation as well as to  undertake critical new research in structures, in stability and control of high speed aircraft and missiles, and in other "selected technical fields." 36
To their surprise, Eisenhower not only agreed, he went them one better. He suggested that they request a supplemental for 1955 to get started on these projects before fiscal 1956 began the following July. Seemingly rusty on military customs, Hunsaker and Dryden came away from this meeting not realizing that a suggestion" from the commander in chief was a polite order. As they contemplated taking the idea before their next meeting with the Bureau of the Budget, the White House called to find out why it had not yet been submitted. Within days, NACA representatives and White House aide were before the BoB director with a supplemental estimate.
The timing of the NACA approach to Eisenhower could not have been better. Hunsaker reported, "The President's interest in the program was based on his knowledge o recent intelligence as to progress in aeronautics being made by the Russians." A knowledgeable insider has testified to the "high quality of the national intelligence estimates in 1954," and these had reinforced for Eisenhower the concern expressed by his Science Advisory Committee when he met with it in March of that year. A month before seeing Hunsaker and Dryden, Eisenhower had appointed a technological capabilities panel under the direction of James R. Killian, Jr., president of MIT. Even before the TCP report was presented to the National Security Council in February 1955, Eisenhower was taking steps to implement the recommendations sure to be forthcoming: "get our military R and D program moving again with carefully established priorities better related to the existing threats to our security." One such step was to provide increased funding for the NACA.
With the Eisenhower administration's skepticism about R&D waning, there was no longer sufficient strength in Congress to hold down NACA budgets. The NACA got it supplemental in 1955, its increased budget in 1956, and annual increases thereafter for the remainder of its years.38 The TCP report of 1955 set the pace and direction of American strategic policy for years to come: it led to the crash program to build an intercontinental ballistic missile, develop the U-2 spy plane, institute work on reconnaissance satellites, and generally augment military R&D across the board. The NACA was carried along on this tide.
In other ways as well, 1955 was a go d year for the NACA. The Committee was still basking in the reflected glory of the Collier trophy awarded in 1954 to Richard Whitcomb o the Langley laboratory force discovery and verification of the area rule of aerodynamic flow, which established the relationship between the girth of a fuselage in transonic....
....flight, and the appendages (e.g., wings) that, without application of the area rule, tended to, upset the flow of air over the body. The principle had been known theoretically before Whitcomb "discovered" it, but he provided the engineering data that turned it into useful applications; specifically, he calculated the adjustments needed to get the air force's F-102, first operational supersonic aircraft, through the sound barrier. Here was fundamental NACA research making an important and much publicized contribution to national defense.39
Also in 1955, yet another Hoover Commission report on government organization appeared, and for the first time in more than thirty years of consistent opposition to the NACA form of organization, the former president brought himself to sign report that praised the NACA and recommended its continuance in act. To hear this old critic of the NACA speak in glowing terms about the "splendid record" of the Committee and its "admirable" organization was e secure as never before.40
The budget was rising; the Committee as receiving awards for its achievement, and even old enemies were succumbing to the NACA's charms. The question was, could the turnaround change the drift of events of the previous decade?
1. See BoB, National Security Branch (W.H. Shapley) to "Mr. Tiller," "Change in Functional Classification of N.A.C.A. Appropriations," 29 June 1919; and J.E. Reeve to "Mr. Labovitz," "Proposed Reclassification of NACA Appropriations to National Defense," 5 July 1949, from which the quotation is taken.
To the Committee on Operating Problems, formed during World War II, only the subcommittees on Aircraft Fire Prevention; Aircraft Noise and Flight Safety were added in the postwar years, and these accounted for only a small art of the NACA research program.
2. The following excerpt from the minutes of the Executive Committee meeting of 21 September. 1950 reveals the trend of military thinking:
For examples of this kind of testimony, see House Committee on Appropriations, Hearings on Independent Office Appropriations for 1952, 82/1, 195 1, pp. 358 59; ibid., Subcommittee on Independent Offices Appropriations, Hearings on Independent Offices Appropriations for 1953, 82/2, 1952, p. 373.
3. AR 1950, pp. 1 2.
4. John Stack, unsigned memo for chief of research, NACA research potential and current and future needs, 14 Dec. 1951, with cover memo by Waiter T. Bonney, "Some thoughts concerning possible manner of presentation by John Stack," 10 Jan. 1952.
5. Stack actually used speed ranges to make his point, for he wanted to impress upon his audience the complexity of aeronautical research. The top speed and the landing speed were the extremes within which a given aircraft would stay in the air. As top speeds increased, so too did landing speeds, though to a lesser degree. In the subsonic era, top speeds were between two and three times the landing speed; in the transonic era, they were five times as great. The immediate result of this (at least as Stack present d his case) was to require longer and sturdier landing fields, which in turn removed comb t aircraft farther from the front lines and reduced their combat utility.
6. For example, Stack assumed that the increased speed of aircraft was a direct function of NACA funding, ignoring the work of other designers and engineers in industry, the services, and universities who contributed to American aircraft performance. He argued that an increase in the NACA budget would raise aircraft speed, even without proportional increases in military R&D funding. This is the sort of hubris that not only blinded the NACA to its own shortcomings but also alienated many knowledgeable people in the field of aeronautics.
7. See appendix C. The House reduced the 1951 NACA appropriation more than $6 million, most of it reportedly "to deny the NACA any increase over its current operating level." W. H. Shapley to "Mr. Ramsey," "House of Representatives Action on 1951 Estimates of NACA, 12 May, and "Effect on NACA of Senate General Reduction in 1951 Appropriations," 9 Aug. 1950.
8. Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to the Present (Bicentennial ed.; 2 vols.; Washington: Bureau of the Census, Dept. of Commerce, 1975), 2: 768, 966, 1116, 1120.
9. The total federal budget dropped in both 1954 and 1955, as did the military budget; however, while the latter remained more than 3 times the 1950 figures, the NACA's 1955 appropriation was only 1.3 times its 1950 level. Ibid. and appendix C. The quotation is from Shapley to "Mr. Schaub," NSC meeting on research and development, 8 May 1953.
Aeronautical R&D funding throughout the federal government went into a decline beginning in 1954 and never recovered. DoD, NASA, and Dept. of Transportation, R&D Contributions to Aeronautical Progress (2 vols.; Washington: Dept. of the Air Force, 1972), 1:II- 5. Part of this decline must be attributed to the fact that the United States began shifting research effort from aircraft to missiles, work in which the N CA believed it had an increasing role to play.
10. Victory to Capt. Frank B. Miller, USN, 7 June 1950, in USAF Academy, Victory papers, "All JFV Correspondence, 1950."
11. See, for example, Shapley to Ramsey, "House of Representatives Action on 1951 Estimates of NACA, 12 May 1950; National Security Br. (W.H. Shapley) to Ramsey, "Additional 1951 and 1952 Budget Estimates for the NACA, 16 Oct. 1950; 64 A 518 (12), 1951.
12. Shapley to [Roger] Bounds, "Legislation in Appropriation Language National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics," 5 May 1945; appendix A.
13. Report of the House Appropriations Committee on the .950 Independent Offices Appropriation Bill, as quoted in minutes of NACA meeting, 21 Apr. 1949, pp. 2-3; Carl Vinson to Clarence Cannon, 16 Dec. 1949; app. A.
14. Report of the House Appropriations Committee on the .950 Independent Offices Appropriation Bill, as quoted in minutes of the NACA meeting, 21 Apr., p. 3; Shapley to Ramsey, "NACA Organization," 14 Apr.; Victory, A Full-Time Paid Chairman for NACA, memo for record, 15 Apr. 1949.
15. Victory, "A Full Time Paid Chairman for NACA"; minutes of NACA meeting, 21 Apr. 1949, p. 5.
16. Participants in congressional hearings customarily receive a verbatim transcript of the testimony. Witnesses are usually allowed to edit or revise their remarks, a process that often eliminates exchanges much less damaging than this one. This quotation appears in the handwritten notes of Walter Bonney, who came upon the unedited transcript in his research. Another copy of the transcript is in the Hugh Dryden Papers at the Eisenhower Library, Johns Hopkins Univ.
Ira Abbott, who was at this hearing, reports that the exchange between Thomas and Hunsaker was far more intemperate than the version recorded here. See his description in Abbott to Monte D. Wright, 30 April 1980, encl., p. 20.
17. "Report on Survey of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics," forwarded by cover letter from Frank L. Yates, acting comptroller gene I of the U.S., to John Phillips, 20 Feb. 1953, p.4.
18. Quotations from ibid., pp. 17, 42. Thomas's comment appears in House Committee on Appropriations, Hearings on Independent Offices Appropriations for 1952, 82/1, 1951, p. 367. On the 1954 and 1955 audits, see Frederick H. Smith to Dryden, 24 Jan., and Dryden to Smith, 31 Jan. 1956.
Ira Abbott reports that Thomas told the NACA off the record to forget the GAO criticisms, which were misdirected and wrongheaded. Abbott to Wright, 30 April 1980, encl., p.22.
19. Chart of "Organization of Federal Executive Departments and Agencies" as of I Jan. 1948 to accompany Senate Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Departments, S. Rept. 13 [80/2, 1948], in 62 A 35 (40), 010 legislation, government organization; Senate Committee on Appropriations, Hearings on Independent Offices Appropriations, 1951, 81/2, 1950, p. 950; W.H. Shapley to Schaub, "NACA explanation of apparent duplication in aeronautical research and development," 25 May 1953; statement by Victory before an executive session of the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, 15 Feb. 1949, in USAF Academy, Victory papers, box 1, miscellaneous correspondence (1949 & 1951).
20. For Nixon's support of the NACA, see Ben Regan to Victory, 12 May 1952. When the NACA was seeking appropriations for a program of supersonic wind tunnels at universities, Shapley wrote:
21. "Outline of answers to questions to be posed by Charles Cordry on Joseph Young's radio program," 6 Sept. 1952, in USAF Academy, Victory papers, box 2, correspondence, July-Dec. 1952.
22. In Jan. 1950, before the Korean War, Hunsaker defended the NACA estimates for 1951 thus:
Before the end of the following year, the NACA was so deeply involved in work related to the Korean War that the Executive Committee took the unprecedented step of resolving that "the scope of research by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics be extended to include the aerodynamic problems associated with the control, stowage, release, and launching of aircraft armament and the integration of the airplane and its armament." Minutes of Executive Committee meeting, 12 Oct 1951, p. 12. This was a long way from fundamental problems of flight.
23. The story of air force problems with the Arnold Engineering Development Center is told in Willis Shapley, "Large Supersonic Test Facilities for Aeronautical Research and Development," an undated 14 page typescript forwarded to under a cover letter of 16 Apr. 1953.
24. See "Policy for Operation of Unitary Wind Tunnels n Development and Test Problems of Industry," approved by the Executive Committee on May 1953, reprinted in appendix H. This policy was later extended to other NACA facilities.
25. See "Report of Facilities Panel, NACA Operation of NACA Unitary Plan Wind Tunnels," 12 Mar. 1953; "Dr. Raymond's Suggestions for Report, Facilities Panel, NACA, March 6, 1953," draft by Victory; "Dr. Dryden's proposed amendment to Dr. Raymond's suggestion for report of Facilities Panel, NACA," 11 Mar. 1943; "NACA Facilities Panel, Second Appearance of Dr. Dryden at Close of Hearings, March 6, 1953, "draft by Victory;" Report of NACA Facilities Panel to NACA Executive Committee on Policy for Operation of Unitary Wind Tunnels on Development and Test Problems of Industry," draft, 19 Mar. 1953.
26. AR 1953, pp. 68 73; appendix B.
27. NA RG 255, entry 2, box 6, "Bouquets to NACA." The quote is from Thomas W.S. Davis to Victory, USAF Academy, Victory papers, box 2, general personal correspondence, 1953. The lengths to which the NACA would go to protect its reputation with its principal clients is revealed in NA RG 255, entry 2, box 7, "Security." Here are recorded the events surrounding an incident in which some classified papers were mishandled by the NACA and were found lying on the street in front of the Committee's offices by a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. When the incident was reported on the fro t page of that paper, the NACA took appropriate steps to ensure that the shortcomings of its security procedures were corrected, but gave the director of naval intelligence a misleading and self-serving account of what happened.
28. Papers presented to the BoB, 15 Sept. 1927, in 57 A 415 (17), 19-5, FY 1929. The quoted document is not specifically identified as Ames's statement, but it reflects his style and philosophy.
29. Ira H. Abbott told Walter Bonney in 1971 that, upon graduating in aeronautical engineering from MIT in 1929, he had turned down more than fifty job offers and a postgraduate scholarship to study under Prandtl at Gottingen took a low paying job with the NACA. "I can say definitely that I had no idea of staying with the NACA he said. "I was going down there strictly for what amounted to a postgraduate course n aeronautical research because I figured that was the best place in the world to get it." Transcript of interview, 28 Oct. 1971, Sandwich, N.H., pp. 1-3.
The comparison of the aviation and petroleum industries appears in [Howard] Braithwaite to Shapley, "History of Super grade positions: NACA/NASA," 23 Apr. 1968. Unless otherwise indicated, the following account of NA A personnel problems is drawn from this detailed and informative summary.
30. The John Victory papers at the USAF Academy provide sense of how much time Victory devoted to personnel problems during his last decade wit the Committee. For an example of similar evidence in the regular NACA files, see Victoy to C.O., Redstone Arsenal, attn: Col. Tom G. Thrasher, 24 June 1952, in 65 A 953 (1) 17, 1948-1951, in which Victory asks Thrasher to stop luring away NACA employees an refutes the colonel's earlier assertion that he was only trying to make up his own losses t industry. At this time the Army arsenal had hired away 45 NACA employees.
31. The 1949 act appears in appendix A. The NACA maintained that it was supposed to have been included in the original 1947 act; see Hunsaker to Sen. Olin D. Johnston, 10 Feb. 1949. The BoB preferred that general legislation apply to all government agencies, but made no objection when NACA sought in 1949 to gain same hiring powers as the military establishment. See A.E. Reed to Staats, "S. 2348, amend Public Law 313, Eightieth Congress, to accelerate scientific research in aeronautics authorizing the creation of fifteen additional positions in the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics at rates of pay from $10,000 to $15,000 per annum," 16 Apr. 1948; ibid.,"H. R. 6695, a bill...," 14 June 1948; E.B. Bowers to Staats, H.R. 6695, an act . . . .." 22 Nov. 1948; Roger W. Jones to William J. Hopkins, 13 July 1949, with attachments.
32. P.L. 472 appears in appendix A. As with the NACA pay act of 1949, the BoB approved this legislation even though, as mentioned, its staff favored a general act applicable to all government agencies. See E.B. Bowers to Staats, "Draft bill, authorize professional personnel of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics to at and accredited [graduate] schools for research and development", 31 Jan. 1949.
33. AR 1955, p. ix; minutes of NACA meeting, 22 Oct. 1954, pp. 4 6; minutes of Executive Committee meeting, 14 July 1952, pp. 13 15. Robert J. Woods of Bell Aircraft Corp. made the spaceflight proposal at the 24 June 1952 meeting of the Aerodynamics Committee.
34. Minutes of Executive Committee meeting, 14 Feb 1952, pp.12-15, and 14 July 1952, pp, 7-11; National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics of justification in Support of a Supplemental Estimate of Appropriation for the Fiscal Year 1953," 31 Mar. 1952.
35. National Security Branch (Shapley) to the director, "NACA amendment to the 1953 Budget for Research on Aircraft Structures (Supplemental Requirement No. 439)," 30 Apr. 1952, with routing slip from Shapley to Veatch et al.
36. Minutes of Executive Committee meeting, 16 Sept. 1954, p. 8; Shapley to "Mr. Schaub," "Proposed NACA 1955 supplemental estimate," 14 Sept. 1954.
37. The quote attributed to Hunsaker is from Shapley memo for files, "NACA meeting with Deputy Director [of BoB] September 16, 1954," 16 Sept. 1954. The other quotes are from James R. Killian, Jr., Sputnik, Scientists, and Eisenhower A Memoir of the First Special Assistant to the President for Science and Technology (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1 77), pp. 75, 69, whence also the general statements about Eisenhower's strategic thinking in this period.
38. See appendix C.
39. Clarence C. (Kelly) Johnson, for one, was skeptical of the claims made for Whitcomb's work, but the Air Force was genuinely grateful for the help with the F-102, and praise for the NACA and Whitcomb was widespread. See Johnson to Dryden, 12 Aug. 1957, and Dryden to Johnson, 20 Aug. 1957, in 65 A 953 (36), A 34, 1957.
40. Hoover signed the report of the Commission on Organization the Executive Branch of the Government, Research and Development in the Government: A report to Congress (Washington, 1955), which, without making a specific recommendation On the NACA, repeated the glowing appraisal of the agency that first appeared the previous month in commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government, Committee on Business Organization of the Department of Defense, Subcommittee on Research Activities in the Department of Defense and Defense Related Agencies, Research Activities in the Department of Defense and Related Defense Agencies (Washington, 1955), pp. 73-75, 90.