SP-4103 Model Research - Volume 1



Tunnel Vision, 1919-1925


[73] Even as the NACA was backing away from the advisory function implied by its name, it was gravitating toward the role its founders had had in mind all along: aeronautical research at a national laboratory. As early as 1915, suggestions appeared before the Committee on how it should formulate and execute a research policy, but the exigencies of war had prevented much progress in that direction.1 Only with the armistice did the NACA take up the subject in earnest, addressing itself first to the structure of a research program and then to its content.




The NACA emerged from World War I in poor shape. The criticisms by Joseph Ames, John Victory, and Leigh Griffith quoted at the end of chapter 2 had surfaced before the end of the war, echoing similar objections from less sympathetic observers outside the Committee and noting a lack of purpose or direction in the NACA's course to date. Ames spoke for them all when he lamented the "lack of.... an established program ..... [and a] vision as to what the future should offer us." Victory voiced a common sentiment when he called for a clear statement of the "methods and program of work" the NACA meant to pursue.2

The Main Committee took scant notice of this chorus of concern until postwar budget reductions began to squeeze the NACA. In the spring of 1919 the Committee's budget request for $325,000 was cut almost in half, to $175,000, prompting Victory to recommend to the Executive Committee that the "research programs of the various subcommittees be coordinated and consolidated into one general program." This in turn led to an examination of the entire committee system within the NACA and a resolve to reorganize.3

In its first four years, the NACA had created no less than 32 subcommittees, of which 18 were still in existence at the close of the war. These ran the gamut from the sturdy and perennial Power Plants [74] for Aircraft to the short-lived Fireproof Coverings. The number and variety of these subcommittees reflected both the NACA's inability to define the major issues in aeronautics and the Committee's tendency to answer every problem by creating a new subcommittee. For example, when the chief signal officer of the army asked the NACA in 1916 about general specifications for aeronautical instruments, the Committee created a Subcommittee on Specifications for Aeronautic Instruments. The following year the title was changed to just Aeronautic Instruments. In 1918, this subcommittee was absorbed by a new Subcommittee on Navigation of Aircraft, Aeronautic Instruments and Accessories. But after two years and as many changes in title, the subcommittee had done nothing. Late in 1918 the chairman could report that he had just then obtained from the army the "necessary information ..... to make up a program."4

In the spring of 1919, the NACA abolished all but two of the 18 World War I subcommittees and replaced them with only four new ones. These six were full technical committees, no longer called "subcommittees" as they had been at times in previous years. Three of them were to last the duration of the NACA and account for 88 percent of the reports published by the Committee. They were the old committee on Power Plants for Aircraft, and the new committees on Aerodynamics and on Aircraft Construction, the latter then called Materials for Aircraft. (Appendix B lists all the NACA committees and explains the titling convention used in this volume.) These three technical committees were to monitor NACA research.5

The other three committees formed in 1919 reflected the NACA's concern with the administrative structure that would make the research possible. The Committee on Governmental Relations formed in 1916 was continued, a clear indication of the NACA's intent to cooperate with other government agencies. The new Committee on Personnel, Buildings, and Equipment, concerned at first with outfitting the laboratory facility it had acquired in 1917 at Hampton, Virginia, concentrated on finding adequate staff and office space in Washington as the field installation grew more self-reliant. By far the most important of the nontechnical committees to emerge from World War I was the Committee on Publications and Intelligence. This committee supervised not only the production and distribution of all NACA reports but also the work of the Office of Aeronautical Intelligence, through which the Committee hoped to become the clearinghouse for aeronautical information. Partly, this office was intended to aid the research staff at the Virginia laboratory and to assist the Committee in Washington in making intelligent decisions about what research had been done and what needed doing. But it was also intended to make the NACA indispensable as a source of information.6

[75] To ensure that the Committee received the latest and most comprehensive reports of European aeronautical activity, the NACA appointed a technical assistant to head an office in Paris. Military attachés in Europe objected forcefully to this arrangement, labeling the NACA representative "the fifth wheel to a wagon" and insisting that they could do their job better without such interference. These protests won some adherents within the Air Service in Washington and led to considerable pressure to eliminate the NACA post. The first incumbent fed this discontent by several times overstepping his bounds and by getting on rather badly not only with U.S. military attachÈs but with French and Italian officials as well.7

The NACA, convinced of the importance of technical advances in Europe, was determined to retain a Paris office through which news of these developments could be funneled quickly and directly to its Office of Aeronautical Intelligence. In 1921, the Committee replaced the first appointee with John Jay Ide. A descendant of the first chief justice of the United States, Ide was wealthy, aristocratic, and cultured, with considerable charm and savoir faire. He was also an accomplished diplomat in the mold of the distinguished ancestor for whom he was named. Within months of his appointment, he had smoothed the feathers ruffled by his predecessor and had established such cordial relations with the European aeronautical community that the NACA could cite his achievements as proof against the army's insistence that the office be abolished. Although Ide never got the diplomatic passport he wanted and never entirely succeeded in eliminating the suspicions of some military attachÈs that he was encroaching on their domain, he was so successful in eliciting information from Europeans - often over expensive lunches apparently paid for out of his own pocket - that even the military services came to depend on the information he dispatched to the NACA. As one visitor to Europe reported in 1922: "The Committee has a tremendous asset in Mr. Ide. He knows everybody, and everybody likes him. He knows what he wants, and speaks this scientific language so that people find it a pleasure to discuss their work with him."8

Ide's operation rounded out the Office of Aeronautical Intelligence, and that office in turn rounded out the staff and committee structure adopted by the NACA in 1919. Other committees added through the early 1920s were in general mere elaborations of the structure already established. Only one - the Committee on Patents, formed in 1926 and retitled the following year as the Committee on Aeronautical Inventions and Design - deviated much from the pattern. This was the only committee the NACA ever formed in response to a legislative mandate. The Air Commerce Act of 1926 required the NACA to review patents for the military services, a function it had in [76] any case been fulfilling since the war.9 The NACA saw fit to appoint a committee to oversee this essentially staff function.

With the committee structure taking shape, the need increased for someone to run the show. As early as 1915 the NACA had been warned that its "first and most important step was to secure the services of a suitable technical assistant who could devote his entire time to the purely theoretical and scientific problems involved in aviation, preliminary to the establishment and development of a laboratory."10 The Committee simply did not have the technical expertise to run a research program; indeed, its failure to obtain a technical director during World War I accounts in large measure for the NACA's erratic record at war's end. The failure, however, was not for want of trying. During the war the Committee had offered the post of director of research to several established scientists and engineers. Each time it met rejection, perhaps because then the NACA had very little research to direct and a very uncertain future to promise. With the war over and a laboratory under construction, the NACA decided to lower its sights and simply hire an executive officer, an individual admittedly less qualified and less experienced in science and engineering but capable of managing the day-to-day routine of the NACA.11 For that position, George W. Lewis seemed ideally suited.

Lewis came to the attention of the NACA through Clarke Thomson Research, a private Philadelphia foundation established by its sponsor in 1916 for research in aeronautical science, especially propulsion. After taking bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering from Cornell University, Lewis had taught for seven years at Swarthmore College before joining Clarke Thomson as engineer-in-charge in 1917. Late in that year, Thomson placed the services of his organization at the disposal of the NACA to direct as the Committee saw fit. Lewis quickly came to know William F. Durand, the engine research staff at the National Bureau of Standards, and others connected with the NACA program in engine research; in 1918 he became a member of the Subcommittee on Power Plants. Eighteen months later, Joseph Ames recommended Lewis to the NACA as executive officer partly on the basis of his professional. experience and talent, but largely because of his "forceful personality" and "leadership." Ames judged that at age 36 Lewis had the right mixture of youth and maturity to get along with the young NACA staff and grow with the job. Furthermore, Lewis provided a nice counterbalance to John Victory. He was physically plump where Victory was thin, temperamentally cordial where Victory was abrasive, and self-effacing and reserved where Victory was priggish and garrulous. Lewis joined the NACA in 1919 and rose quickly. Like most of the NACA staff, he was brought on young and inexperienced and trained up to take on all the responsibility he could handle. Within....



George W. Lewis, NACA director of aeronautical research 1919-1947. (NASA Archives)

George W. Lewis, NACA director of aeronautical research 1919-1947. (NASA Archives)


....five years he was promoted to director of research, a title that described what he had been doing almost from the start.12




One of Lewis's first duties as executive officer was to prepare the Committee's budget. In the years immediately following World War I, the NACA budget grew steadily. In 1918, the last year of the war, it had surpassed $100,000; in 1926 it passed $500,000. Only once in the intervening years did any year's budget fall below that of the previous one, and then by only $30,000.13 This record was due partly to the procedure by which the NACA was funded and partly to the nature of its research program.

In 1917, the NACA budget was removed from the naval appropriation bill of which it had been a part since the Committee's creation in 1915. Thereafter, the NACA's funds appeared annually in the Civil Sundry Act, later called the Executive and Independent Establishments Appropriation, still later the Independent Offices Appropriation. [78] Instead of coming before the military affairs committees of the two houses of Congress to have its budget authorized, the NACA appeared only before the respective appropriations committees, where its requests usually received short and sympathetic consideration. The military affairs committees were generally sympathetic to the NACA throughout its history and helpful when they could be. Surely the NACA had not suffered greatly before them during World War I. But the Independent Offices Appropriations bill afforded the NACA an autonomy and freedom from controversy, I that it probably would not have maintained had it stayed under the umbrella of the navy budget. Furthermore, the title "independent office" better suited the Committee's self-image and kept up the NACA defenses against later suggestions that it be absorbed by the armed forces. Not until after World War II did the NACA come under the congressional scrutiny of the authorizing process; then the blessings of exemption in earlier years became all too obvious.14

The other key to NACA success in the budget process was its relationship with the Bureau of the Budget. BoB was created by Warren G. Harding in 1921 to rationalize the federal budgetary process and place it on a more businesslike: footing.15 The NACA, like other agencies of the federal executive, had to submit its request for appropriations to the bureau at formal hearings in the fall of each year. This submission usually followed informal negotiations with the BoB staff to determine the general level of funding that might be acceptable to the president. The final decision on the amount the NACA could request from Congress depended on the size of the federal budget and the administration's judgment of the NACA's proper share of the total.

This process gave the NACA its share of headaches, as it did other federal agencies. Congress too felt the sting of BoB interference in an essentially legislative function, and more than once rebelled at the action of the bureau. In 1922, for example, the NACA sent the BoB a preliminary estimate of $400,000 for fiscal year 1924; BoB cut that to $215,000. The NACA protested and won approval from BoB for a request to Congress for $260,000. Congress in turn appropriated $307,000.16

In spite of occasional disagreements like these, the NACA got on well with the Bureau of the Budget, establishing a reputation for honesty and economy that few if any other agencies in Washington enjoyed. John Victory, who was principally responsible for this, personally saw to the mechanics of preparing and presenting the NACA's budget requests, which were notoriously voluminous, detailed, and correct. Aside from swamping BoB in the sea of paper that was its annual budget book, the NACA played it straight with the bureau, which treated the NACA well in return.

[79] From time to time the Committee ran afoul of BoB, as in 1924 when it publicly advocated increased appropriations for the military air services after the bureau had cut these requests. And at times the Committee found the pinch of economy unbearable and sought relief in transfers of funds from other agencies to finance the research its own budget would not allow. But the latter tactic was used only in the early years; until World War II, the NACA got pretty much what it wanted, or at least its fair share. In 1925, the director of the Bureau of the Budget cited the Committee as an example of true cooperation with a degree of efficiency unexcelled in the government; a majority in Congress echoed the sentiment by regular approval of NACA appropriations. 17

Closely tied to the mechanics of getting appropriations was the related issue of how the appropriations were divided between construction and general-purpose funds. In the NACA budgets that went before Congress while the United States was involved in World War I (i.e., 1917 through 1919), the Committee won approval for $147,000 worth of construction. For fiscal 1917, its construction budget was $69,000 and general purpose funds were $18,515.70. The entire $69,000 went into laboratory construction at Hampton, bringing in its train a requirement for new personnel, first to supervise construction of facilities and then to operate them. Consequently, the general-purpose budget for the following year (fiscal 1918) quadrupled. In the ensuing decade, construction funds varied widely but never regained the levels voted in the enthusiasm of World War 1. The general-purpose budget, however, grew with unrelenting regularity from less than $20,000 in 1918 to almost half a million dollars in 1926.18

Most of the increases in general-purpose funding in those years went to personnel costs. When Congress approved the first construction project, the NACA had only one employee, John Victory; by 1926 it had 145 employees, of whom 121 were staffing the laboratory. Each year's increases in staff were justified as necessary to operate the laboratory facilities authorized by Congress in previous years. Whether anyone in Congress realized it at the time, those first appropriations for a laboratory virtually assured two things: the NACA would continue to exist and to grow, and it would conduct a research program with built-in pressures to expand. The staff hired to operate the new facilities soon became an established body with ambitions and designs of its own. Always the researchers wanted new and better facilities, and the approval of these would ensure the further enlargement of the staff to man them. In turn the new and larger staff would demand new and larger facilities. The push and pull between staff and facilities went on throughout the NACA's history. Its foundation was laid in the excitement of World War I, with a modest request for a laboratory.




[80] The Committee's research laboratory got off to a shaky start. Its first decade was filled with problems that threatened at times to remove the laboratory to a different location, at times to bring all its operations to a standstill. Poor relations with the military services, especially the army, accounted for some of the trouble; difficulties with its own management and administration accounted for most of the rest. 19

Problems with the military arose quickly. The NACA wanted its laboratory to be located at a site shared by the aeronautical research establishments of the army and navy, in fact with all government agencies concerned with aviation. This would have fostered cooperation, minimized duplication, and given the young Committee some much needed prestige by association. The navy, however, never went for the idea. It agreed to assist the NACA in selecting a site but never formally agreed to join the enterprise.20

The NACA initially had somewhat more success with the army, but only by accepting the army's judgment as its own. In the fall of 1916, the NACA, the army, and the navy were all looking for suitable sites and exchanging information on possible selections. The NACA Subcommittee on a Site for Experimental Work and Proving Grounds for Aeronautics, appointed 9 October, participated in the search but played a less active role than the military services. On 23 November 1916, the subcommittee reported to the NACA that the site recommended by the army's selection team - 1650 acres of flat land at the mouth of the Back River near Hampton, Virginia - also suited the NACA better than any other location known to the committee. Thereupon, the NACA wrote the army a letter endorsing the site for a joint experimental station and recommending purchase of the land as soon as possible, listing such favorable characteristics as climate, proximity to industry, accessibility, and local labor force. These criteria, however, seem to have been less important to the NACA than joint occupancy with the military services.21

The army quickly purchased the land, agreeing to set aside a corner of it for the NACA. Construction delays, however, plagued the army from the first groundbreaking in 1917, leading the chief signal officer to characterize the base as "the neck in the bottle of the aircraft program." Pressed by the demands of war, the army established an airplane-engineering department at the already functioning McCook Field near Dayton, Ohio. With that, the handwriting was literally on the wall. In August 1917, the name of the new Hampton base was changed from "Aviation Experimental Station and Proving Grounds" to Langley Field. This was both a tribute to the aviation pioneer and a hint that McCook Field was to be the real center of army experimental research.

[81] Shortly after the armistice the army's experimental activities at Langley were transferred to McCook and Langley became a general-purpose flying field, home to a heterogeneous variety of army and later air force units. It was never to be the joint aeronautical research center the NACA had wanted. The Committee constructed its first buildings as a disappointed tenant having little in common with its landlord.22

As a NACA staff began to form at Langley to supervise construction of the laboratory, disappointment quickly turned to friction. Abstract notions of cooperation in the advancement of aeronautics might sound well around a committee table in Washington, but to the men who actually staffed the army base at Hampton the NACA personnel were so many interlopers whose very presence complicated the business of establishing a flying field. Working conditions at the site were by themselves enough to shorten tempers and preclude harmony. One new arrival at Hampton reported: "Nature's greatest ambition was to produce in this, her cesspool, the muddiest mud, the weediest weeds, the dustiest dust and the most ferocious mosquitoes the world has ever known. Her plans were so well formulated and adhered to that she far surpassed her wildest hopes and desires...."23 For at least the first decade of its history the nascent Langley Field would exist under these adverse conditions, which affected NACA and army personnel alike. Furthermore, many in the army air service were resentful of the NACA's opposition to a separate air force and the friction at Langley Field gave them more than one opportunity to vent their hostility.

The most serious, or at least the most acrimonious, dispute was over housing.24 The town of Hampton was several miles from the field and no public transportation came closer than four miles. On-base housing was almost a necessity. But the army had built what housing there was, and the army wanted to keep it for itself These were the very years when the NACA headquarters was itself being bounced from office to office within military buildings in Washington. What the Main Committee could not wring from the army, the small staff at Langley surely could not.

Housing was not the only problem. The construction firm under contract to the army to erect the buildings at Langley Field proved so unsatisfactory that the army took over construction, using its own personnel. As the contract had included buildings for the NACA, army personnel found themselves constructing the NACA's laboratory. While this arrangement was very much to John Victory's liking, for it meant that the Committee got free labor, it caused problems of its own. For example, promoting and rating the men assigned to work for the NACA raised questions of fairness, and the NACA was finally led to request a separate detachment for its exclusive use. The tail was trying to wag the dog. Even the operation of the Committee's facilities, when [82] they were finally completed, created problems. The NACA plot at Langley Field was next to the officers' club; when the staff of the engine dynamometer laboratory worked late, to take advantage of off-peak-hours electrical power, the noise considerably upset the ambiance of the club.25

The dissatisfaction of both parties at Langley Field reached a crisis in 1919. That summer John H. DeKlyn, the first technical assistant hired by the NACA and the man assigned to oversee construction of the laboratory, wrote to Ames recommending that the Committee abandon Hampton in favor of another site. "Langley Field can never be an efficient or satisfactory place for the Committee to carry on research work," said DeKlyn, primarily because the NACA would continue to be dependent on the army for quarters, power, transportation, roads, lights, and so on and so forth. Furthermore, he thought the Hampton area lacked an adequate labor force and recreation facilities.26

DeKlyn's recommendation was seconded by Edward P. Warner, a young aeronautical engineer recently hired away from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to become the first chief scientist of the NACA. With the Air Service deciding not to establish its principal research center at Hampton, argued Warner, the only reason for the NACA to remain was that its facilities were already under construction. Militating against remaining were the isolated location and inadequate power. John Victory sent these memorandums on to Ames with the notation: "....the conclusions are obvious."

Victory visited Langley in September 1919 and reported that, before the base could become a satisfactory site for the Committee's laboratory, provision would have to be made for room and board for the staff, a new powerhouse, and regular research trips by the staff to other government laboratories. The alternative was removal of the laboratory to another site, assuming the army and the Congress could be persuaded to agree. He suggested Bolling Field, a new air base under construction on a strip of land along the Anacostia River in southeast Washington, D.C.27

The Committee's Annual Report for 1919 echoed Victory's recommendation. The reasons for having the laboratory at Langley Field had evaporated, and Bolling Field would place the research staff nearer to Committee headquarters, visiting scientists, and adequate libraries. Furthermore, the report argued, the army was going to need all of Langley Field for its own purposes. "Much direct effort is wasted," concluded the report, "in striving to accomplish results in the face of the difficulties encountered at Langley Field."28

With the formal admission that conditions at Langley were unsatisfactory, the NACA seemed resolved upon a move. However, Congress [83] showed no enthusiasm for abandoning the buildings already erected for the Committee, and the site at Bolling turned out on further consideration to have shortcomings of its own. There seems no clear moment when the Committee consciously abandoned its resolve to leave Langley Field, but over the next two years it became apparent that the laboratory staff would have to make the best of it.29

The NACA Langley Memorial Laboratory was formally dedicated 11 June 1920. During the ceremonies, Admiral David W. Taylor prophesied that the facility would one day become an aeronautical Mecca.30 Consisting of three modest buildings - a wind tunnel, an engine-dynamometer laboratory, and a research laboratory - encroaching on a none-too-friendly arm), base, the NACA laboratory appeared unlikely to live up to such promises.



 Langley laboratory's wind tunnel 1, shown here in about 1921, was part of the very modest facilities with which the NACA began, its career in aeronautical research. (LaRC)

 Langley laboratory's wind tunnel #1, shown here in about 1921, was part of the very modest facilities with which the NACA began, its career in aeronautical research. (LaRC)


Further darkening the laboratory's prospects as it was being dedicated was the second of its main problems in the early years: internal management. Until 1926 the NACA did not specify how its laboratory would be administered or how it would work with the headquarters. Continuing friction with the army and unsatisfactory living and working conditions only exacerbated what was really an internal problem within [84] the NACA. At first the Main Committee had expected that George Lewis would take up residence at the laboratory to perform as executive officer from there. But Lewis soon concluded that he could best carry out his duties in Washington. So the Committee still needed a man to run the laboratory, a man who could get along with the army, provide for the staff, and meet the demands of Victory and Lewis in Washington. This was no small order, and the NACA spent several years and considerable unpleasantness filling it.

The first head of the Langley laboratory, John H. DeKlyn, took over in 1917 with the title of engineer-in-charge of buildings and construction. He had more than his share of problems with the army, and all too soon he ran afoul of John Victory as well. Before George Lewis's appointment as executive officer, and even before DeKlyn took up the campaign to relocate the laboratory to Bolling Field, the young engineer-in-charge was involved in the kind of petty dispute with Victory that would infuriate future laboratory directors. Some routine correspondence between DeKlyn's staff and Victory's had been mismanaged, and Victory concluded that the Langley staff showed a lack of "courtesy and sympathetic cooperation" in righting the matter. So he undertook to lecture DeKlyn not only on the mechanics of submitting travel vouchers but also on the etiquette of interoffice relations. Victory was nothing if not efficient, and probably had cause for reprimanding DeKlyn, but there was always something officious and condescending in his tone when he undertook to correct those whom he considered his subordinates. Such letters from him read more like papal bulls than constructive criticism, and they never failed to rankle. DeKlyn, after all, ranked above Victory in both salary and prestige. The head of the laboratory was, in DeKlyn's mind and the minds of many of his successors at the NACA field centers, an engineer doing the Committee's real work, whereas Victory was merely a bureaucrat doing a purely administrative job. DeKlyn was not about to be scolded by a pompous place filler in Washington; yet getting along with Victory was a sine qua non for running Langley. Some time in 1919, DeKlyn simply gave up.31

Within a year the situation was critical. After a visit to the laboratory in February 1920, just three months after George Lewis's installation as executive officer, Victory reported:


The station is operating with poor efficiency, morale is low, and effective cooperation ...... does not exist on other than routine matters requiring a minimum of interest or active effort by Mr. DeKlyn. He has subordinated the Committee's best interests and neglected his duties. He has failed to competently supervise the workmen or the administration of his own office, and is undermining the loyalty of the workmen to the Committee.


[84] Victory recommended immediate suspension of DeKlyn and immediate acceptance of the resignation he was reportedly preparing. DeKlyn was not at the laboratory when Victory visited, "having taken leave of absence to visit Pittsburgh in quest of another position," but Victory was told, that he was resigning "as a protest against .... the Washington office."32

At least two men at the laboratory gave Victory support in his findings and apparently some hope that the situation could be salvaged. Edward P. Warner, the chief physicist, and Leigh M. Griffith, the NACA staff engineer recently assigned to Langley, cooperated with Victory on his inspection and agreed to the remedies Victory prescribed. Soon thereafter Victory was dealing directly with Griffith in the conduct of laboratory business, and two years later Griffith was officially appointed engineer-in-charge.33

Griffith ran a better show at Langley than his predecessor, but he had more favorable conditions to work under. Relations with the army had improved. Some quarters were at least available. Plans were afoot to build a recreational camp for the staff. The laboratory's facilities were in use, lending a sense of purpose and accomplishment to the activities of the researchers. The staff had divided into working sections set up much as they would remain for the next twenty years. The research was showing results, the staff was growing, and new facilities were being planned. Even a research policy of sorts was taking shape. In short, the future of the laboratory was brightening. Furthermore, Griffith was an old friend and colleague of George Lewis, and their close personal relationship surely eased the course of business between headquarters and staff. 34 Still, these improvements were not enough to keep Griffith from clashing with John Victory over administration. In 1924, for example, Victory returned a voucher to the laboratory for tire-execution in a neat and proper manner." The document was the carbon copy of a proposal or requisition that had marks and alterations on it. To Victory it presented "an improper appearance," and he directed that any such untidy document should be recopied before being sent to headquarters. "There is no excuse," he proclaimed, "for such misdirected efforts at labor saving [italics in original]."35

In fact, there was an excuse, for the voucher had not been prepared by the laboratory, as Victory had assumed, but by a commercial supplier over whom the laboratory had no control. Since the laboratory was required to send the original copy to headquarters, it had no choice but to foul Victory's in-basket with "an improper appearance." To his credit, Griffith tried conciliation, addressing a "Dear John" letter to Victory in which he suggested that the "degree of personal contact between the Laboratory and the Washington office has been insufficient to ensure that close sympathy and understanding which will [86] alone prevent the development of small differences due to lack of appreciation of the difficulties and problems of the associated organizations."36

This entreaty had no apparent effect. Within six months, relations between Victor), and Griffith had so deteriorated that their correspondence was barely civil, Griffith was looking elsewhere for work, and Victory was recommending his removal. The final crisis was precipitated by a dispute over correspondence policy. Unwilling to argue the fine points of administrative etiquette with Griffith, Victory sought to terminate a quibbling exchange of letters by directing that "argumentative matter, unnecessary matter, and impertinent and irrelevant matter be eliminated from official correspondence." Griffith wrote back the next day, suggesting that Victory take his own advice and rewrite his letter accordingly. That did it. Victory advised Griffith that he was making the whole topic "a matter of official record in order to check a growing practice ..... destructive of discipline and efficiency in the orderly conduct of routine business relations between the Committee and its laboratory." That language foreshadows the charges on which Billy Mitchell would come before a court-martial later the same year. To Griffith it was: "Good evidence of [the] ignorance and impossible attitude of Asst. Secy."37 Before the year was out, both Griffith and Warner had swelled the ranks of promising young engineers who had left the NACA laboratory. Some left because of the generally poor conditions at Langley, or the dim prospects there, or the chance of a better position with industry; but more than one of the departures could be charged to the officious John Victory."38

Griffith was succeeded by Henry J.E. Reid, a young electrical engineer in whom the NACA finally found that rare and indispensable combination of talents: the ability to get along with both the laboratory staff and John Victory, to master both the technical demands of aeronautical research and the bureaucratic demands of administering a NACA field installation. Reid was only 30 when he took over as engineer-in-charge at Langley. He was 63 and in the same post when the Committee went out of business in 1958, and was second only to John Victory in length of service to the NACA.

His longevity and success can be attributed to two things, his professional interests and his disposition. Reid moved up to head the laboratory from the instrument section, where he had pioneered in designing and developing instruments for aeronautical research, most importantly a V-G (velocity-gravity) recorder to measure and record the airspeed and normal acceleration of an aircraft in flight. Because the instrument section did work for all other sections of the laboratory, Reid had come into regular contact with all of his colleagues and had developed an appreciation of their work. This, of course, served him....




Henry J.E. Reid in his office in 1928, two years after taking over as engineer-in-charge of Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory. (LaRC)

Henry J.E. Reid in his office in 1928, two years after taking over as engineer-in-charge of Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory. (LaRC)



.....well when he came to administer the research program at the laboratory; though his time was increasingly given over to administration, as the years wore on, he never lost his interest or his expertise in instrumentation. He kept his hand in, and this helped him understand the problems of his staff and maintain their respect and sympathies.39

Reid's ability to get along with John Victory is a tribute to his disposition. An easy-going man of manageable ego and even temper, he ran Langley with a keen intuition for when to give people a free hand, when to rein them in. Deeply ingrained in him was the engineer's propensity for order and reason. Like Victory, he wanted the NACA organization (and the Langley laboratory in particular) to run like a quiet machine; unlike Victory, he could communicate that wish to his subordinates without being imperious or heavy-handed. An ideal buffer between Victory at headquarters and the staff at Langley, he intervened more than once to the advantage of all concerned. With Reid in place, the organizational and administrative structure that dominated the NACA until World War II was established.40




But what was the NACA to do? What kind of research would the NACA undertake, and how would it be selected, conducted, and reported? Some of these questions were answered even before the laboratory was dedicated; some were worked out slowly, even painfully, as the Committee's structure and facilities evolved.

The NACA began by dividing aeronautical research among the government agencies involved: the military services, the National Bureau of Standards, and the NACA. The army and navy, it was understood, would do "technical engineering work" aimed at the [88] development of specific military aircraft. Most of this research would consist of developing specifications for aircraft, supervising the production and acceptance of prototypes, and testing aircraft to see if they met the standards and if the), could be improved.41

This left to the National Bureau of Standards and to the NACA what both agencies liked to call scientific or fundamental work: research into the basic scientific principles applicable to all kinds of aviation, not just to a certain airplane or type of aircraft the services might be developing. They wanted to study ailerons in general or radial engines, not just the control surfaces or power plant of this or that particular military aircraft. Of course, both agencies did research on request for the services, but they tried to limit this to instances when they had unique facilities the services could not duplicate, or when the research promised some fundamental data applicable to all aeronautics.42

The two most important areas for aeronautical research at the end of World War I were aerodynamics and power plants. The NACA and the NBS divided these, the NACA concentrating on aerodynamics, the NBS on engines. The NBS had been doing research on engines before the NACA was created; as many of the problems related to engines in general were applicable to aviation engines, it was natural for the NBS to continue this work. Because the NACA tried always to avoid duplication and to give a wide berth to the territory of other agencies, it limited its own work on engines and contracted out to the NBS much of what needed to be done. Samuel Stratton, director of the NBS in 1916, chaired the NACA's Power Plants Committee from its inception until he left the NACA in 1931, even though he had departed the NBS in 1922 to become president of MIT. He and his successors up to World War II saw to it that the lion's share of aircraft-engine research went to the Bureau. Of course, the NACA did not neglect engines entirely; George Lewis and Leigh Griffith both came to the Committee with backgrounds in engine research, and the engine-dynamometer laboratory was one of the first structures built at Langley. But the very first test facility built there was a wind tunnel, and what was first was foremost. In the crucial years immediately after World War I the NACA settled upon aerodynamics as its main field of interest, an orientation it never lost.43

Another reason for the NACA to go slowly on engines was that industry already had its own engine-research facilities when the Committee was formed. The pivotal 1916 conference that broke the deadlock over manufacturing aircraft engines for the war had revealed the existence of a considerable engine-research capability in the private sector, independent of the' government support and attention needed for aerodynamics and other more esoteric branches of aeronautics.

[89] Unfortunately, the NACA may have relied too heavily on its first impression of the aircraft-engine industry, received when the field was dominated by automobile-engine manufacturers. Because the NACA adamantly refused to admit industry representatives to its Main Committee or main technical committees, it had no sure mechanism for staying abreast of developments. Its neglect of engine research may well have been based in part on a false sense of security.44

Nevertheless, the Committee had succeeded in selecting an area of specialization - aerodynamics - claimed by no other government agency but still offering real opportunity to advance aeronautical science. Once its field was chosen, however, the NACA had great difficulty deciding how to proceed. The minutes and correspondence of the early years exhibit a striking lack of technical knowledge within the NACA about how to construct a research program, or what facilities would be needed, or what specific questions should be pursued. The members of the NACA were genuinely convinced of the need for aeronautical research in the United States, yet - with only one or two exceptions - none of them had very much idea about what to do, once the opportunity to prepare a program was before them.45

The Committee might have asked its engineering staff for a program, but it did not. George Lewis, after all, had been hired as an executive officer, not as the director of aeronautical research for whom the Committee had been searching. He was an engineer, and what the Committee had in mind was a program of scientific research. Leigh Griffith's memorandum commenting on the Committee's future had contained much advice on the structure of the organization but little on the substance of a program. It was important counsel in its way, as were other early contributions of the NACA's engineers, but more was needed. For this the Committee turned to scientists, and European scientists at that.46

First the NACA tried George de Bothezat, a Russian aeronautical engineer of auspicious reputation. After several interviews with Bothezat in the spring of 1918, Joseph Ames wrote to Stratton:


I am convinced that he can be of more use to our Committee, at the present time, than any man in America ......He knows more about propellers, design of wind tunnels and all that than any other man in the world, I think.....
I beg to urge upon you the imperative need of engaging his services instantly......in my judgement, he should be engaged now as a technical advisor to assist our engineers.....They are eager for his help and questions are arising every minute where he can be of untold assistance.....His schemes are very far reaching and full of great interest. I know of no plans which are more important for the development of the airplane.47


[90] This breathless recommendation might stand as Joseph Ames's greatest error of judgment in a quarter century of service to the NACA, had he not suggested Bothezat be hired only conditionally by the Committee and given an opportunity to prove the assertions he had made in interviews with Ames. Stratton had interviewed Bothezat as well, shared Ames's enthusiasm, and also wanted to see some proof. Between them, Ames and Stratton had more than enough influence to get the NACA to adopt their suggestion. Bothezat was retained by the NACA, in a joint arrangement with the Army Air Service. He would advise the Committee on wind tunnels and a research program, and he would design for the Air Service a propeller suitable for the Liberty engine. If he succeeded in both, the NACA would consider hiring him full time.48



The man in the center is probably George de Bothezat.

 The man in the center is probably George de Bothezat. Far left is George Lewis; far right is Joseph Ames. The other two men seem to be army air service officers. This photograph was probably taken in Washington, D.C., or at Wright Field, Ohio, around 1920. (National Archives)


Bothezat began by examining the programs suggested by the NACA's staff engineers. He found them wanting. "They consist merely in a enumeration of different problems that can be investigated," he said, "but without any systematization of those problems." What was wanted was an understanding of "the general spirit that must animate all research in general but special [sic] all aerodynamical research." He explained:


Before a general conception of a problem to investigate is stated, one must take account of all the works made before and submit them to a critical investigation. Afterwards in the problem to investigate there must be reached as far as possible a certain general theoretical standpoint and clear understanding of the connections of the studied [91] problem to other problems and its relation to the general principals [sic] of dynamics and hydro-dynamics. The last constitutes only the fundamental demand of the continuity of scientifical evolution.49


In his awkward English, Bothezat was suggesting that the best researches are those enlightened by a knowledge of the previous work in the field and of the theoretical issues underlying the various problems retarding aeronautical progress. A laundry list of possible investigations is no substitute for a thorough understanding of the state of the art and an appreciation of what knowledge is required to advance that state. As he said earlier in the same report, with obvious reference to the kind of research being advocated by the NACA engineers:


Experimental researches or investigations can be of two kinds: Either they simply consist in measurements of some mechanical or physical quantities; Such measurements can be considered as scientific only when they are of a high grade of exactitude; In the other cases they simply constitute routine work. Or the experiments constitute a verification of a general conception of the studied phenomenon. It is the last investigations that generally have the most importance. This kind of conceptional investigations can be undertaken only when they are guided by a deep knowledge of all the studied phenomenon in its whole and its understanding from a unique philosophical standpoint.


Discounting the muddled syntax of that pronouncement, it is possible to see through his inadequate English to the essential idea he was trying to convey. Instead of the "measurements" and "routine work" he saw in progress around him, he advocated "conceptional investigations" based on "deep knowledge" and "understanding." That idea rang true to the charter of the NACA to engage in "the scientific study of the problems of flight." Presumably it was this kind of talk that had so impressed Ames and Stratton.

But Bothezat's influence with the Committee was shortlived, for he soon revealed himself as a better talker than performer. Ames had been warned, even before Bothezat was taken on by the NACA, that while he was "a brilliant mathematical physicist, and very suggestive," he was nonetheless "wholly untrustworthy." Not only did it turn out that Bothezat promised more than he could deliver; he was soon discovered to have a temperament entirely unsuited to the Committee's needs. When an article he published was criticized by Jerome Hunsaker for claiming overmuch, Bothezat called the objections "ignorant criticism." At McCook Field to do propeller work for the army, Bothezat repeatedly modified the research program and never came to grips with the problems he had boasted of being able to solve. At the same [92] time, he gave overblown public lectures on the possibilities of using jet propulsion for interplanetary travel. His entire record with the Committee confirmed the hunch that he was brilliant but erratic. In the end, the NACA simply let him go as being too temperamental and poorly suited to working in American organizations. Though he seemed to have all the right ideas, he lacked the capacity to reduce them to practice.50

Bothezat was soon forgotten at Langley and within the NACA. His successor, however, was unforgettable. Max Munk spent six years with the Committee and did more to shape the NACA's history than any other man in a comparable period of time. A protégé of Ludwig Prandtl, Munk came to the Committee in 1921 from the Zeppelin company in his native Germany, highly recommended by Jerome Hunsaker, who felt that his employment by the NACA would be the cheapest way of obtaining a great deal of unpublished aeronautical information generated in Germany during the war. Hunsaker also felt that Munk's abilities as a theoretician and generalist would allow him to draw conclusions from the work of others at the NACA - that is, from the engineers. Munk, in short, was to be the scientist providing the conceptual framework on which the NACA engineers would hang their researches.51

At first, Munk was spectacularly successful. In five years with the Committee he authored or co-authored 57 reports, more than any other writer in NACA history except Edward P. Warner. As early as 1922, Dr. Ames - himself a scientist reported to the NACA annual meeting that "Dr. Munk's work during the past year, in the theoretical side of aerodynamics, has placed the Committee in the forefront of the world." Two years later, Ames said that "the papers written by Dr. Munk during the past year have done more to make aerodynamics and hydrodynamics a living thing than anything that has happened during the past twenty years." Even George Lewis, the engineer, shared this original enthusiasm for Munk's work and its value to the Committee. At Lewis's suggestion, Dr. Ames summarized six of Munk's most important reports in a form more understandable and appealing to aeronautical engineers who lacked the "very extensive training in mathematics and physics" necessary to understand them. Lewis wanted to make Munk's work more "readily appreciated by the average aeronautical engineer or designer and to further stimulate his interest so that he will undertake the reading of Doctor Munk's papers in detail."52

Munk's greatest contribution to the NACA, however, was not the papers he wrote but the wind tunnel he built. When Munk joined the NACA, only a simple atmospheric wind tunnel based on European design was in operation at Langley. Through a 5-foot-diameter test section in the tunnel, a propeller pushed air at varying speeds across a [93] model of an aircraft or wing section to simulate conditions of flight. The forces on the model were measured by a set of balances. One of the main questions of aerodynamical research at the time was the scale effect: Did the air act on the model in a way determinably proportional to the way it acted on the full-scale body? Even as the NACA's first atmospheric wind tunnel went into operation, it was realized that the answer was no; a scale effect compromised wind-tunnel results, and required correction in a way that could then only be guessed at.53

Munk's contribution was to create a wind tunnel in which the conditions in the tunnel were directly comparable to those in flight. The key to the problem was air density. The forces acting on bodies immersed in a moving fluid (like air) depend on the Reynolds number - a dimensionless mathematical quantity that varies directly with the size of the body, the velocity of the stream, and the density of the air, and inversely with the viscosity of the air. Results from use of a small model could be made comparable to those from a full-size aircraft by increasing the speed or the density of the air, or by reducing its viscosity. The first method was impractical because a one-tenth-scale model would require air speeds in the tunnel ten times those encountered in flight. Even had such a supersonic tunnel been technologically feasible in the 1920s, which it was not, it would have produced compressibility effects even more distorting than the scale effect. The third method, reducing viscosity, was theoretically possible by reducing the temperature in the tunnel, but this too was beyond the technology of the 1920s. The only practical factor to vary was the air density. This could be done by increasing the pressure in the tunnel. If ten atmospheres of pressure could be generated in a wind tunnel, then tests of a one-tenth-scale model would produce usable results.54

Though all this was known before Munk began his work for the NACA, no use had been made of it. It was Munk who translated the theory into a practical proposal and designed the variable-density wind tunnel, essentially a tunnel in a bottle. A conventional annular-return wind tunnel with a five-foot test section was entirely enclosed in a steel tank 10.5m long and 4.5m in diameter. The tank could withstand pressures of 21 atmospheres, so that almost any model of reasonable size could be tested under conditions comparable to those encountered by a full-scale aircraft in flight.

Though greeted with some skepticism at home and abroad, the variable-density tunnel worked, and it began a revolution in aeronautical research. By the end of the decade, other countries began building similar tunnels. The NACA became famous for innovative research techniques and tools, and used this fame to win more funds from Congress for equally innovative facilities and equipment in the years to come.55 Munk's fame also increased, not only for the tunnel but also.....




Max Munk in front of the variable-density wind tunnel that made his reputation, and the NACA'S. (LaRC)

Max Munk in front of the variable-density wind tunnel that made his reputation, and the NACA's. (LaRC)


.....for the research he conducted with it. Early in the tunnel's life, Munk used it to test his new theory of airfoils. From this work flowed the achievement for which the NACA is perhaps best known among aircraft designers: the NACA family of airfoil shapes. By designing, modeling, and testing whole series of airfoils in which such characteristics as camber, maximum thickness, and chordwise thickness distribution were varied slightly and systematically in each successive model, the NACA was able to provide designers with a wing section for every purpose: that is, a family of sections in which the characteristics of each were so well defined that a designer could simply select off the shelf the one best suited to the aircraft he was designing.56

All of this began with Max Munk, but he was not around to share in the harvest. However popular he may have been with Joseph Ames and other members of the NACA, he was not well liked at the Langley laboratory, where he headed the aerodynamic research section. Like Bothezat before him, Munk was arrogant and eccentric, and the English language would never quite do what he wanted. Like many geniuses, lie had a mind filled with as many crackpot schemes as flashes of [95] brilliance; his utterances supplied ample evidence that he was simultaneously an aerodynamical wizard and an unstable charlatan. No one, it seems, was neutral about Munk, and he was forever at the center of controversies characterized by extremely strong opinions on all sides.57

The NACA tolerated him for a while because so few had his experience or his credentials. But, as the Committee staff grew and matured, Munk's position became more precarious. Engineers were taking over the Committee staff, in part because of their sheer numbers, in part because of the positions they held. In 1924 George Lewis was made director of aeronautical research. The Committee thus abandoned its effort to find a scientist for the post and settled instead on the engineer who had used his position as executive officer to take over technical direction of the NACA. The head position at Langley was now designated engineer-in-charge. In 1923 there were only two positions for scientists at Langley; one of these was vacant, one was filled by an engineer.58 In these circles, Max Munk was increasingly out of place. Late in 1923, Leigh Griffith revealed the extent of the friction when he wrote to Lewis about staff comments on a technical report:

With reference to Dr. Munk's criticisms in the present case, it is rather unfortunate that he is not more familiar with current standard American nomenclature and is therefore inclined to criticize terminology not in agreement with his own peculiar ideas......As a general rule, it would seem highly desirable that criticisms of research reports dealing with actual research laboratory results should not be undertaken by theoreticians since the viewpoint of the theoretician is usually so radically different from that of the laboratory research man.59


The snobbery underlying that argument is the same one that fuels most role disputes between scientists and engineers. The scientist sees things purely, and speaks with the condescension of the purist; the engineer labors in the field and deals every day with the practical exceptions to the scientist's theories. Seldom does either have the sympathy and experience needed to appreciate fully the strengths of the other's work. The scientist disdains the engineer as a pedestrian tinkerer, with dirty fingernails and blinkered eyes. The engineer resents the scientist as an impractical dreamer designing castles in the air and proving that bumblebees can't fly.60

Such men can work together, but it takes a competent referee. Neither George Lewis nor HJ.E. Reid was equal to the task. When Reid took over as engineer-in-charge at Langley, he promptly locked horns with Munk over the latter's habit of communicating directly with headquarters. 61 Reid viewed Munk as just another staff member of the laboratory; Munk saw himself as an eminence of sorts, with special....




A handful of men were capable of both science and engineering. one such was Theodore von Karman (the dramatic figure in the center), shown at Langley laboratory during a visit to the United States in 1926. Like Max Munk (front row, third from left), von Karman was a protégé of Ludwig Prandtl, who immigrated to the United States and influenced the course of the NACA's history. (LaRC)

 A handful of men were capable of both science and engineering. one such was Theodore von Karman (the dramatic figure in the center), shown at Langley laboratory during a visit to the United States in 1926. Like Max Munk (front row, third from left), von Karman was a protégé of Ludwig Prandtl, who immigrated to the United States and influenced the course of the NACA's history. (LaRC)


....privileges. Still, things might have been smoothed over had Munk not run afoul of George Lewis. The NACA records do not reveal exactly what the dispute was about, but they do show that it was intense, personal, and bitter. Munk later called Lewis a "liar and a slanderer," accusations that appear entirely at odds with Lewis's reputation.62

Lewis for his part could barely bring himself to deal with Munk even years after the dispute. Whatever it was that brought the two men to such a pass ended Munk's career with the NACA forever, and it ended as well the role of the brilliant, eccentric, independent scientist on the Committee staff. There would be other scientists in the NACA, even brilliant ones who would make substantial theoretical contributions to the field of aeronautics, but never again would there be a prima donna working independently of the engineering team. Lewis's fight with Munk was personal, but it climaxed a running dispute that was essentially professional and philosophical. The engineers won.

[97] The departure of Munk was a watershed in the history of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. Lewis now reigned at the top of a hierarchy that would direct the course of NACA research for the next twenty years. Munk and Bothezat had given the young committee theoretical guidance in its formative years, but now Lewis meant to replace their volatile genius with a research process, a well-oiled machine that would make aeronautical progress routine. As the Annual Report declared in 1926, the year of Munk's departure:


Reviewers of the progress in aerodynamics in the past have usually found that the theory had advanced at a greater rate than its practical application. This is a natural phase in the development of a new science. However, it is apparent that the time has now arrived when the main theoretical foundation has been laid and we may expect in the future to find extensions of and additions to existing theory rather than new fundamental conceptions. We are therefore entering into a phase of refined and applied theory, as shown by the developments during the past year. This phase demands that theory be developed in detail to fit peculiar requirements or to explain unusual phenomena.


The annual report of the previous year had set the tone: "There is nothing in sight at this time to indicate the probability of the discovery of a revolutionary principle contributing any. great or sudden improvement in aircraft,"63 it said, blind to the fact that discoveries are by definition out of sight. Gone with Munk and Bothezat were the vision and conceptualization with which they hoped to guide and inform NACA research. They were always looking for revolutionary principles; with helicopters, jet propulsion, swept wings, and countless other discoveries yet to be made, their belief in creative imagination would seem to have as much merit as the conservatism of the NACA.

Not to George Lewis, however. To him, the "scientific study of the problems of flight" was a means, not an end. The end was "their practical solution," and upon that goal he focused. He set himself and his staff on the road to refining flight as it then existed. The process he established by 1926 was based on the belief that a smoothly running research organization holds the greatest promise of technological progress. In 1926 he sent to HJ.E. Reid a long quotation that captured his notion of how the NACA should work:


A research organization is a body of scientists that are combined through system and regulation into a coordinated whole. Every successful research-laboratory director is an organizationist, a believer in the smoothly operating machine of management. All of his research men work together for a common end.
[98] The value of direct cooperation, or concerted teamwork, among the members of a research laboratory cannot be overemphasized. There should be no tendency toward purely individualistic work; an appreciation of the importance of mass action in achieving results should be firmly established from the start.....
No research man is a complete unit of himself. He requires the contact, the stimulus, and the driving power that are generated by his association with other research men, in his own organization, as well as at meetings of professional societies.64


No room there for a Max Munk. For better or for worse, the NACA by 1926 was committed to a research philosophy that valued process over prescience, the team over the individual, experiment over theory, engineering over science, incremental refinement of the existing paradigm over revolutionary creation of new paradigms. On this commitment the NACA built its success and prepared its downfall.65


338-346] Notes

1. For example, at the special meeting of the Main Committee on 15 Oct. 1915, Prof. John F.Hayford, director of the College of Engineering at Northwestern University, outlined what he thought the policy and functions of the NACA should be, but the ensuing discussion got little beyond details. Minutes, pp. 3-4. Hayford expanded on these suggestions in a letter to Durand 28 Apr. 1917. The policy he proposed was adopted by the Executive Committee on 7 Aug. of that year and by the full NACA the following October. However, this policy never received the formal endorsement of publication in an annual report, and the Committee seems to have been little affected by its provisions.

2. See p. 48; and Ames to Durand, 10 Aug. 1918; Victory to Durand 31 Aug. 1918.

3. See minutes of the NACA meeting, 10 Oct. 1918. In AR 1918 the Committee attempted to define the "Functions of the Committee," but these were, directed more toward the NACA's place in the federal scheme of things than to a research program and a staff to administer it. Instead of establishing an organization and procedure for the NACA as a whole, each of the existing subcommittees prepared a statement of its function, organization, and program. See Victory to Walcott, 11 Sept. 1918. This preliminary to defining functions for the NACA produced nothing further until the spring budget crunch. See minutes of Executive Committee meeting, 23 Sept. 1918. On activities in the spring of 1919, see minutes of Exec. Com. meeting, 7 Mar. 1919.

4. Appendix B; minutes of the NACA meeting, 20 Apr. 1916, p. 3; Ames to Durand, 10 Aug. 1918.

5. Once more Leigh M. Griffith provided good advice to the Executive Committee (see chapter 2, note 63). His memorandum of 8 Apr. 1919 suggested that the technical committees then being formed be restricted in number, limited in membership, and administered by secretaries who would be salaried staff of the NACA, to prevent unnecessary meetings and bothering committee members with routine business. This is very nearly the policy finally settled upon by the NACA, but it is not clear that Griffith's suggestion was responsible. Rather, the Committee seems to have fallen into the pattern he suggested.

6. For a detailed glimpse into the history and early workings of the Office of Aeronautical Intelligence, see L.C. Stearns to Ames, 3 Apt. 1919. Staff member J. H. De Klyn had referred to the NACA in 1917 as "a clearinghouse for scientific knowledge". See De Klyn, "Suggestions for Compilation of an Aeronautical Handbook to be Published by the National [Advisory] Committee for Aeronautics" (ca. 19 Jan. 1917), in 557, A 415 (44), 27 1. On the efforts to make the holdings of the Office of Aeronautical Intelligence complete, see 57 A 415 (46), 32 5, 1919.

7. The first representative of the NACA in Europe was William Knight, who had suggested the idea to the Committee in a letter dated 26 Mar. 1919, while he was still a first lieutenant in the Air Service. On 27 May 1919, Knight was appointed technical assistant and transferred to the Paris office of the Committee. At first the Committee was pleased with Knight's work and resisted efforts by the military services to eliminate hi post. Part of the protest was just a case of military attaches, jealously guarding their own territory, as when the assistant chief of the Air Service in the American Expeditionary Forced Knight concerning the relationship between the NACA and the services, "Did you ever hear of a child's supporting his parents?" (Reported in Knight to NACA, 2 July 1919 in 57 A 415 (66), 51-6.) But soon it became apparent that Knight was simply not the man for the job. On 14 Dec. 1920, Maj. Benjamin D. Foulois wrote to B. Gen. M. Churchill. "Mr. Knight as a former Air Service officer, was under my command during the war, and on duty in Paris. He is an excellent technical man, but I would never recommend his employment for any position where tact, diplomacy or good business judgment is required." (NA RG 255, Series 3, box 24, loose papers at front of box.) Lewis reminded Ames, 26 May 19 2, that "Mr. Knight invited difficulties by interchanging European information among different European countries." (NA RG 255, entry 3, box 1 ,Joseph S. Ames, 1915-1924)

On the early years of the Paris Office, see 57 A15 (66), 51-6G, 1919-1920. On Knight, see minutes of Executive Committee meetings 4 Apr., 20 May, 20 June, and 12 Sept. 1920, and the minutes of the NACA meeting, 7 Oct 1920. The characterization of the NACA European representative as a fifth wheel was reported in John J. Ide to Lewis, 15 Mar. 1923, in 57 A 415 (66), 51-6G, 1921-1923.

8. Minutes of Executive Committee meetings 14 Apr., 21 Apr., and 14 May 192 1. The kind words about Ide were from Edward Warner, reported back to Ide in Lewis's letter of 21 Aug. 1922 in 57 A 415 (66), 51-6G, 1921-1923 Lewis told; early as Dec. 1921 that "we all feel that you have been successful in handling the Paris Office and personally I wish to congratulate you especially in view of the relations Mr. Knight had created." Lewis to Ide, 13 Dec. 1921, in 57 A 415 (66), 51-6G, 1921-1923.

Ames reported to Lewis from Paris on 20 June 19 3 that "Hunsaker says Ide is the only man in Paris who has 'contacts,' and he is right. The attaches don't amount to much." (NA RG 255, entry 3, box 12, Hunsaker, 1916-1935)

9. See AR 1926 for details on how the NACA planned to execute its responsibilities under this section of the Army Air Corps Act of 1926.

10. Minutes, NACA meeting, 15 Oct. 1915.

11. At least two academics were considered for the post of director of aeronautical research during the war, Prof L.V. King of McGill University, Montreal, and "Dr. H.W. Bridgeman" of Harvard (probably P.W. Bridgman, the Harvard physicist and subsequent Nobel laureate). The Committee came very close to hiring King, but he declined at the last moment. See 57 A 415 (10), 9-2; minutes, Executive Committee meeting, 23 Mar. 1918. Before settling on Lewis, the Committee offered the post of executive officer to Dr. Cary T. Hutchinson, a physicist by training but an engineer by experience. He too declined. Minutes, Executive Committee meeting, 17 Feb. 1919.

12. See the biographical memoir reprinted from the Year Book of the American Philosophical Society, 1948, pp. 269-78. See also AR 1918, pp. 25 26; NA RG 55, Series 3, box 28, "George W. Lewis"; William F. Durand to H.C. Dickinson, 8 Aug. 191 in 59 A 2112 (10), 17-3 Durand, July-Dec. 1917; C.D. Walcott to Clarke Thomson [ca. 3 June 1919]; S.W. Stratton to Local Draft Board #2, Swarthmore, Pa., 26 Sept. 1918; Victory to Adm. Land, 2 Aug. 1934, enclosing "Biographical information with regard to Dr. Lewis"; Ames to Executive Committee, 10 Sept. 1919; Lewis to Robert P. Lesley, 9 July 1923; and minutes of Executive Committee meetings, 9 Oct. and 25 Nov. 1919. 'Me NACA regulations were amended in 1919 to accommodate the new position of executive officer; see appendix A.

13. See appendix C, esp. table C-2. Note that funds for "General Purposes" never decreased during these years. Lewis nominally took over the budget duties from Victory, who had been performing them unofficially from the outset, officially since July 1918. Minutes, Executive Committee meeting, 30 July 1918.

14. See pp. 265 266 and appendix C, esp. table C-1. In these early years the NACA budget usually passed with ease. For example, Lewis wrote to Redmond D. Stephens on 16 Apr. 1924: "Our hearings before the House Appropriations 'Committee were most satisfactory, and the only comment made on the Committee's item was in the House, which comment was favorable." 64 A 518 (8), 1925.

15. The Bureau of the Budget was created by the Budget an Accounting Act of 1921 (42 Stat. 20). The philosophy behind it was similar in many respects to that behind the creation of the NACA. At a meeting of government executives on 29 June 1921 to inaugurate the new budget system, President Harding spoke of the "necessity of driving at the loose, unscientific expenditures of government." His first budget director, Gen. Charles G. Dawes, called his audience "business men, a part of the business administration ... which for the first time commences functioning under a president of a business corporation who is also the President of the United States." (Transcript, pp. 1, 3)

16. Meetings of Executive Committee, 31 Aug. 1922 and 10 J n., 19 Jan., and 6 Apr. 1923.

17. Ames reported to the Executive Committee meeting of 0 Sept. 1924 that "General Lord, Director of the Bureau of the Budget...disapproved the practice of this Committee in recommending to Congress in its annual reports increased appropriations for the Army and Navy Air Services, as being outside the functions of the committee." (Minutes) Lewis wrote to the chairman and secretary of the Executive Committee on 9 June 1920:

The Committee's appropriation for the fiscal year 1921 is $200,000, as compared with $175,000 for the current fiscal year. Ho ever, during the current fiscal year the Committee has found it necessary to secure outside financial assistance, to the extent of $11,000 in order to carry through it research work.
Unless the program of essential aeronautical research work which the Committee has recommended be seriously curtailed, t e appropriation for the fiscal year 1921 will be insufficient, and it will be necessary for the Committee to consider the question of securing additional funds. (64 518 (8), 1921)

See appendix C, esp. table C-5. At the Executive Committee meeting on 25 June 1925, George K. Burgess reported that, at a luncheon at the Bureau of Standards, the director of the Bureau of the Budget cited the NACA as "an example of true cooperation with a high degree of efficiency unexcelled in the Government service".

18. See appendix C, esp. table C 1.

19. At least three attempts have been made to write a history of the NACA's Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory. By far the most comprehensive is Michael David Keller, "From Kitty Hawk to Muroc: A History of the NACA Langley Laboratory, 1917 1947," NASA History Office HHM 15 (1969), an expansion of his earlier "Fifty Years of Flight Research: A Chronology of the Langley Research Center 1917-1966," HHN-65. The best technical treatment is Hartley A. Soule, "Synopsis of the History of the Langley Research Center, 1915 1939," HHN 40, by a veteran NACA engineer. John Victory and Ruth Walrad drafted a chapter on "The Langley Laboratory" for their project d history of the NACA.

20. John Victory was the source of a delightful anecdote and a serious misunderstanding about the role of the navy in the selection of Langley Field. He told two different interviewers on occasions nearly twenty years apart that the navy wanted a research field near the water and the army wanted one inland, and neither agency wanted their interest to come to the attention of local land speculators. So the navy representatives conducted their site surveys disguised as fishermen while the army representatives conducted theirs disguised as hunters. More misleading than this harmless bit of apocrypha is Victory's assertion that the navy backed out of the Langley site after some progress had been made. It is true that the notion of a joint site was discussed with navy representatives present, but H.C. Richardson quickly squelched any expectations the NACA may have had a out navy participation. Writing to Walcott on 4 Dec. 1916, Richardson said:

I note in the revision of the Second Annual Report that you make certain references as to the flying field selected by the Army, and the possibility of joint occupation by the Army, Navy and this committee statements made are not specific, but are broad in general, except that from this report the inference may be drawn that the Navy Department has approved t is site as suited to its own purposes; also that the Navy Department has committed itself to this joint occupation.
While I agreed with the committee in its genera report as to the desirability of co-operation in this work, I do not feel that my action should be interpreted as indicative that the Navy Department does commit itself to this plan, for, as a matter of fact, I very much doubt that the Department does so want to commit itself, as the Department has a special commission now investigating this particular subject by authority of Congress, and would naturally, therefore, not want to commit itself to any project which might conflict with the findings of that commission.
I, of course, do not know whether you have received any assurances direct from the Navy Department as to its attitude, but submit these comments in order that you may not misunderstand my position in the matter.

I know of no other assurances received by the NACA from the Navy Department. The Helm board, to which Richardson referred, made no definite recommendations as to sites, but its successor chose Norfolk for its air base. Aeronautical research for the navy was conducted at Philadelphia. Victory's comments are in the transcript of his interview with Alfred F. Hurley, Oct. 1962, pp. 3-7-3-8, and in the transcript of his interview with John L. Robson, 23 Aug. 1944, cited in Robert I. Curtis, John Mitchell, and Martin Copp, Langley Field, The Early Years, 1916-1946 (Langley AFB, Va.: Office of History, 4500th Air Base Wing, 1977), p. 11. See also Turnbull and Lord, Naval Aviation, pp. 74-78.

21. Minutes of Exec. Com. meetings, 9 Oct. and 9 and 23 Nov. 1916.

22. [Historical Division, Headquarters, Tactical Air Command. U.S. Air Force] 50th Anniversary: Langley Air Force Base, Virginia (n.p.; n.d.); Curtiss, Mitchell, and Copp, Langley Field, The Early Years, pp. 14-17; Maurer Maurer, "McCook Field, 1917-1927," Ohio Historical Quarterly 67 (1958): 21-34; John Victory to Orville Wright, 20 Sept. 1945, in 62 A 35 (15), 170.2 (semiofficial) (1); and "Report of the Sub-Committee on a Site for Experimental Work and Proving Ground for Aeronautics," 21 Nov. 1916. The quote about the bottleneck is attributed by Victory to Gen. George O. Squier.

23. Sgt. James Cunningham, quoted in Curtiss, Mitchell, and Copp, Langley Field, The Early Years, p. 13.

24. See Keller, "From Kitty Hawk to Muroc," pp. 11 16 11 23.

25. Victory to sec. of the NACA, 5 Oct. 1918; Lewis to Ames, ) Apr. 1925, in NA RG 255, entry 3, box 2.

26. John H. DeKlyn to Ames, 9 July 1919, enclosing memorandums by himself and Edward P. Warner, in 57 A 415 (20), 21 2, 1916 1921.

27. Victory, "Memorandum Regarding Use of Langley Field by National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics," 27 Sept. 1919.

28. AR 1919, pp. 13 14.

29. Ames wrote to Samuel Stratton on 29 Jan. 1921 pointing out some of the shortcomings of Bolling Field. Across the top of his memo he wrote: "Not for discussion with Gen. Mitchell." Keller believes that, within two months of Ames's memo, the decision was made. "From Kitty Hawk to Muroc," pp. 11 26 11 27.

30. Curtiss, Mitchell, and Copp, Langley Field, The Early Years, p. 13; AR 1920, pp. 8 9; transcript of speech by Lewis to staff, Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory (hereafter LMAL), 4 Oct. 1938, in 57 A 415 (44), 29 1.

31. DeKlyn, hired by the Committee as a technical assistant in 1916, took up his duties at Langley Field shortly after NACA construction was authorized. Victory's chastisement appears in his letter to DeKlyn of 7 May 1919. In that year DeKlyn as earning $3500 a year, Victory, $3300. Minutes of Executive Committee meeting, 1 Apr. 1920.

32. Victory to Lewis, 12 Feb. 1920.

33. Lewis to LMAL, 31 Oct. 1922. On the more successful relations between Victory and Griffith, see Victory to Griffith, 11 Mar. 1920, Griffith to Victory, 13 Mar. 1920, and Victory to Griffith, 22 Mar. 1920. Even before taking over at Langley, Griffith had given considerable thought to how the laboratory should be organized and administered. See, for example, his memorandum to the NACA (ca. 3 Aug. 1918) in 57 A 415 (10), 9-2.

34. Keller, "From Kitty Hawk to Muroc," pp. 11 23 111 7. On the research policy, see appendix F and pp. 103-106 below; on the NACA camp, see p. 121 Both Lewis and Griffith came from backgrounds in engine work, and both were introduced to government service by William F. Durand. They collaborated on the Roots supercharger, both before and after Lewis joined the NACA, and they stayed in touch long after Griffith left the Committee. Of their early collaboration, see, for example, Griffith to Lewis, 2 July, 31 July, 11 Oct., 27 Oct. 1919 and 6 Jan. 1920, and Lewis to Griffith, 11 Oct. 1919. On the organizational scheme at Langley, see Victory to LMAL, 8 May 1923; Griffith to Victory, 10 May and 12 May 1923; Griffith to Lewis, 4 Oct. 1923; Lewis to LMAL, 6 Oct. 1923.

35. Victory to LMAL, 20 Oct. 1924.

36. Griffith to Victory, 22 Oct. 1924.

37. As early as 1920, shortly before Warner left his posit on as chief physicist at Langley to return to MIT, he and Griffith asked whether they had to adhere to one of Victory's directives since it had been signed by only an "Assistant Secretary". This correspondence and the 1925 exchange between Griffith and Victor), are in 5,7 415 (22), 21 24, 1921 1933. Most of the same material, plus Griffith's final comment on the evidence of Victory's ignorance, is d by MI in the "Langley Historical Material" collected by Milton B. Ames for a history of the laboratory, box 4, under "Miscellaneous Correspondence." is folder is marked: "Local NACA Hqts Langley color" and "Note: Strict discipline req'd."

38. For example, Warner left in June 1920 to return to MI and physicist David L. Bacon left in 1924 to take a job with industry. Warner was the most prolific author the Committee had; in a letter to Ames dated 27 Sept. 1924, Lewis called to Bacon's departure a "severe loss to the Committee", one that Lewis did not know how to remedy. On the departure of promising young staff members, see the correspondence between Lewis and Griffith in NA RG 255, Series 3, "George W. Lewis," especially in 1919. See also Leigh M. Griffith, "Report of the Engineer in Charge of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory to the Executive Committee of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics," 31 Dec. 1925, pp. 4 7, 17.

Victory was no more officious with the Langley staff than he was with his own in Washington. In 1918, for example, he issued the "Memorandum for all Employees":
It has been ....observed that certain employees are abusing the privilege of 15 minute recesses, morning and afternoon and are staying out from twenty to twenty five minutes. There is no need for confusion on this point as a bugle is blown at the beginning and end of each recess. (62 A 129 (11), "241 Hours of Duty 1918 1951.")

One Langley employee who apparently could get along with Victory was Frank E. Herbert, chief clerk from 1920 to 1922. If his request for supplies and personnel on 7 Apr. 1921 is any indication, the key to success with Victory was frankness and a certain disdain for the engineers. Herbert justified his request for another clerk-stenographer because "this Laboratory force has grown and they are turning out a lot of deep stuff or pretending they are, which is all the same where the stenographers and clerks are working up the details." He concluded his appeal: "You will not hurt my feelings if you turn the propositions down after you've given them some consideration. But don't [sic] pull any snap judgment stuff on them."

39. Though Griffith's fate was sealed in the spring of 192 he stayed on officially as engineering charge until the end of the year. In the intervening months, Marsden Ware and Henry Reid shared duties as head of the laboratory Reid proved the more acceptable and took over in 1926. Keller, "From Kitty Hawk to 15 111 7 111 8. Reid and his colleague,

R.V. Rhode, developed the V G recorder in 1930, after Reid had taken over direction of the Langley laboratory. George W. Gray, Frontiers of Flight: Story of NACA Research (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1948), p. 168.

40. Before Reid took over from Griffith, Victory visited the laboratory and reported that the "girls" in the office "did not know whether the committee was a corporation, a stock company, or a partnership, and finally guessed it had some connection with the Government." Victory to Lewis, 3 Aug. 1925. Victory and Reid were equal to dispelling that confusion and ensuring that it never returned.

41. The quoted phrase is from a typescript of testimony of f testimony of Samuel W. Stratton before a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee on the Independent Offices Appropriation bill for 1919. Joseph Ames used the terms "technical development work and....experimental problems" when describing the activities of McCook Field in a 5 Jan. 1920 letter to Charles T. Menoher. Thurman H. Bane spoke of "production and engineering of Arm), and Navy airplanes" in a 4 Feb. 1920 letter to Ames. The clearest exposition of the NACA position came in the Annual Report for 1925, p. 56: "Without attempting to be specific, the committee is of the opinion that the military and naval services should maintain aeronautical engineering divisions which should be charge primarily with the formulation of specifications of military aircraft, their characteristics and performance; with the critical examination and testing of designs and of aircraft offered y the industry; and with such experimental and development work as can be carried on them most effectively and most economically."

The navy had established an aircraft factory in Philadelphia during World War I to manufacture seaplanes, but throughout most of its history the facility did more research and testing than manufacture. Turnbull and Lord, History of United States Naval Aviation, pp. 116, 117,285-86.

42. Dr. Stratton, as head of the National Bureau of Standards and a member of the NACA, spoke, for both agencies. He told Congress that t e NBS limited itself to "the fundamental physical propositions," which he was pleased to call "scientific work of the highest class.... a laboratory problem pure and simple." "The problems at the Langley Field laboratory," he observed, "are more or less those that are specific to aviation," even though of the same fundamental character. Extracts of his testimony o the Independent Offices Appropriations bills for 1919, 1922, and 1923. See also the type script "Allocation of Experimental Work in Aeronautics" [ca. 10 Jan. 1921], which assigns to the NBS and the NACA "the conduct of scientific research or the investigation of the more fundamental problems."

In forwarding his suggestions for an aeronautical research program for the Committee, Jerome C. Hunsaker wrote to Ames on 9 Sept. 1920: "I have assumed that the general policy will be approved that Langley Field shall solar a possible confine itself to scientific research rather than miscellaneous engineering experiments."

43. Rexmond C. Cochrane, Measures for Progress: A History of the National Bureau of Standards (Washington: National Bureau of Standards, U.S. Dept of Commerce, 1966), pp. 179-86, 276-86. At least one NACA employee felt that the NBS got the engine work because of Stratton's position as chairman of the Power Plants Committee.

44. This interpretation is somewhat at odds with that of Robert Schlaifer, Development of Aircraft Engines (Boston: Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard University, 1950), which maintains that the NACA was unfit for the development work required in improving engines. I believe Schlaifer has discounted excessive e extent to which aircraft-engine manufacture in World War I was in the hands of automobile beyond the NACA's reach, I do, however, agree with Schlaifer that by 1926, even in engine research, there was an increasing duplication of effort y government and industry. C.M. Keys, president of Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company, wrote to Ames on 16 Jan. 1926 asking for greater coordination between the public and private sectors in aeronautical research. He warned: "I think it will presently prove altogether unprofitable to us or anyone else to maintain a highly developed laboratory in aviation, either in motors or in planes, unless some sort of an understanding is reached as to t s matter between the Government agencies carrying on such work, and the companies engaged in it."

On the care taken by the NACA not to intrude on e domain of any other government agency, see, for, Lewis's letter to LMAL of 1 Aug. 1924, in which he warned "there is a certain amount of resistance on the part of e personnel of all the services in handing over to the committee what in their minds is e proper function of their experimental departments." 57 A 415 (20), 21-2, 1922-1931.

John B. Rae, Climb to Greatness: The American Aircraft Industry, 1920-1960 (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1968), p. 24, substantiates my con en ion t t the NACA avoided engine work because the industry was already working in the field; he further maintains that aerodynamics promised the greatest return on capital investment for research equipment, but I find no convincing evidence to support the latter contention. Rae cites Jerome C. Hunsaker, "Forty Years of Aeronautical Research," Smithsonian Institution Annual Report for 1955 (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1956), pp. 262-63, but this article was actually written for Hunsaker by Walter T. Bonney, public relations officer for the NACA, and the cited passage is an attempt to explain why the Committee failed to develop jet propulsion before World War II. See pp. 18&194.

45. On 11 Feb. 1922, Lewis wrote to the staff at Langley:

Dr. Ames and I both realize the importance of interesting the Committee as a whole in the scientific research that the Committee is carrying on, but feel that the matter must be presented to the members in such form that it will demand their immediate interest, and not be read to them in the form, of a report. This will be in line with the functions of the Committee, and I feel that it will also be of an educational value, as most of the members of he Committee, with the possible exception of Admiral Taylor, do not fully appreciate the necessity of their hearty support of scientific research. (57 A 415 (5), 1 16G)

Lewis once told Edward P. Warner, the former chief physicist at Langley and later a member of the Main Committee, that he [Warner] was the only one on the Committee qualified to understand what the laboratory was doing.

In 1917 Prof John F. Hayford proposed a research program for the NACA that was accepted as policy; it was very general, however little Influence on the actual research conducted at Langley. See note 1; Hayford's "Memorandum on Free Flight Tests of Airplanes," 11 Sept. 1917 in NA RG 255, entry 3, box 9, Hayford, 1915-1917; and the minutes of the Executive Committee meeting of 7 Aug. 1917 and of the NACA, 4 Oct. 1917.

46. See appendix H for Griffith's memorandum.

47. Ames to Stratton, 18 May 1918.

48. Stratton to Ames, 20 May 1918. Most of the following material on Bothezat is derived from his two biography folders in NA RG 255, entry 1, box 5.

49. Bothezat to Subcommittee on Buildings, Laboratories an Equipments, 15 Feb. 1919. In the same report Bothezat made another suggestion that was t take root within the NACA:

From a general standpoint a programmed for research must not so much consist in a detailed enumeration of all the questions and problems that can be submitted to research or investigation but rather give the systematization of these problems or questions. That is what I have tried it do in the programmed herewith presented. What concerns the detailization of such a programmed in each special case it must be left fully to the liberty of those who will undertake these researches, and this is fully necessary for the success of the researches themselves. The autonomy which NACA laboratory personnel were in later years to cherish so dearly had its beginning here.

50. The warning about Bothezat came from Prof. E.B. Wil on of MIT, in a letter of 10 Dec. 1918 to Joseph Ames. Wilson also warned that F.W. Lanchester, one of the greatest contemporary authorities on aeronautics, had said of Bothezat's work on stability:

When we examine the work so described we find the subject not more than one half dealt with and in so ineffective a manner t at scarcely one of the conclusions can be regarded seriously.

On Bothezat's dispute with Hunsaker, see Hunsaker to Ames, 22 July 1919; Bothezat to editor, Aviation and Aeronautical Engineering, 2 Sept. 1919; and Victory to Bothezat, 16 Sept. 1919, enclosing a suggested revision to his letter of 2 Sept. 1919. Bothezat's sorry record at McCook Field is reported, perhaps with some prejudice, in John F. Hayford to S.W. Stratton, 6 Dec. 1919, in which Hayford demands that Bothezat be "separated from the service" of the NACA. When Bothezat's association with the army at McCook Field ended in similar unpleasantness, Lewis attributed it to "his lack of appreciation of the way things are done in this country and his temperamental nature." Lewis to F.Caldwell, 28 May 1923, NA RG 255, entry 3, box 5, George de Bothezat.

51. Minutes of Executive Committee meeting, 11 Nov. 1920

52. Minutes of NACA meeting, 19 Oct. 1922; minutes of NACA meeting, 24 Apr. 1924, pp. 8 9; Lewis to Ames, 2 July 1924. Ames's summary appeared as NACA Report 213, "A Resume of the Advances in Theoretical Aeronautics Made by Max M. Munk," 1925.

53. This discussion of the background and development of the variable density wind tunnel is derived from George W. Gray, Frontiers of Flight The Story of NACA Research (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, - 1948), pp. 34 36; Keller, "From Kitty Hawk to Muroc," pp. IV-1- IV-10; and Max M. Munk and Elton W. Miller, "The Variable Density Wind Tunnel of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics," NACA Report 227, 1925. In part I of Report 227 Munk described the "Fundamental Principles" behind the tunnel; in part 11 Miller provided a "Description of Tunnel."

54. I am indebted to Ira H. Abbott, John V. Becker, and Walter G. Vincenti for instruction in the principles of the variable-density tunnel, though none of them is responsible for the exact wording of this paragraph.

55. A British engineer writing in The Aeroplane in 1929 stated hat "the only people so far who have been able to get at something like accurate results from wind-tunnel experiments are the workers at the experimental station at Langley, Field." In the same year, the editor of Aircraft Engineering, also of London, said of the Langley group:

They were the first to establish, and indeed visualize, a variable-density tunnel; they have led again with the construction of he twenty-foot propeller research tunnel; and the steps are now being taken to provide a "full scale" tunnel in which complete aeroplanes up to thirty-five-flow, span can be tested. The present day American position in all branches of aeronautical knowledge can, without doubt, be attributed mainly to this far-seeing policy and expenditure on up-to-date laboratory equipment.

Both quotations appear in Gray, Frontiers of Flight, p. 16.

Actually, Munk's original variable-density tunnel was not as reliable as it first appeared. Unknown to researchers at the time, it produced intense airstream turbulence, causing an exaggeration of scale effect equivalent to multiplying the actual Reynolds number by about 3. This caveat was brought to my attention by John V. Becker and Ira H. Abbott, who also note that it was the Langley staff which finally identified a d corrected this distortion in the 1930s. See Abbott's "Airfoils: Significance and Early Development," in The Evolution of Aircraft Wing Design: Proceedings of the Symposium, Dayton, Ohio March 18, 19, 1980 (New York: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc., 1 80), pp. 21-24.

56. Max M. Munk and Elton W. Miller, "Model Tests with a systematic Series of 27 Wing Sections at Full Reynolds Number," NACA TR-221, 1925. Munk's many contributions to aeronautics while he worked for the laboratory, see R. T. Jones, "Recollections from an Earlier Period in American Aeronautics, "Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics 9 (1977): 1-11, esp. 46.

57. For example, in commenting on the draft of Munk's "The Tail Plane," NACA Report 133, 1922, two distinguished members of the Langley staff came to exactly opposite conclusions. F. H. Norton found evidence of "a most surprising ignorance of the extensive work done by the British and even by the N.A.C.A.", and concluded that there was "nothing in this report which has not been said in a better way in previous reports of the Committee." David L. Bacon, however, found it "undoubtedly a valuable addition to our information on the subject... [which] may enable us in future experiments to work with much better insight of the problem." Norton to Lewis, 9 Aug. 1921; Bacon to Lewis, 4 Aug. 1921.

58. Records of the staffing at Langley in these early years are extremely sketchy. For the organization referred to here, see Griffith to Victory, 12 May 192 .

59. Griffith to Lewis, 9 Nov. 1923, in 57 A 415 (2), I-5A, 1919-1925.

60. Of this passage, Ira Abbott remarked:

There is an element of truth here, but that is a 1. The good research man is both a scientist and an engineer. Some lean more one-way than another. Even the pure types can work together without friction. The thing that causes friction is the personality, not the technical leanings. Abbott to Monte D. Wright, 30 April 1980, enclosure, p. 7.

61. Munk to Lewis, 25 May 1926, and Reid to Miss Dillon, 27 ay 1925, both in Langley Historical Collection, box 4, miscellaneous correspondence.

62. The NACA records on Munk are uncharacteristically sparse, as if most traces of him had been expunged after he left. The best available evidence of the unpleasantness surrounding his departure in 1926 is the correspondence between hi and the Committee just before World War II, when he sought a contract or at n with the NACA. See Victory to Munk, 19 June 1939; Munk to Victory, 3 July Ames, 5 July 1939 (two letters on that date); Munk to Ames, 8 July 1939; Munk 3 July 1939, with a handwritten note from Edward H. Chamberlain to Victory 1939; Victory to Chamberlain, 8 July 1939; Lewis to Munk, 28 July 1939; Munk Aug. 1939; Munk to Lewis, 9 Sept. 1939; and Munk to Vannevar Bush, 20 May 1940.

63. AR 1926, p. 57; AR 1925, p. 58, ,

64. Lewis to Reid, 15 Feb. 1926, quoting Edward R. Weidlein, director of the Mellon Institute of new Industrial Research of the University of Pittsburgh, in a paper presented to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as reported in the Feb. 1926 issue of Mechanical Engineering.

65. Many NACA veterans disagree with this conclusion. John V. Becker writes:

In the early '20s no one knew for sure what the right problems for research were for an agency like NACA. Munk came and did his thing which proved fruitful for awhile. By 1926 experience was beginning to show that many of the most urgent problems in that period involved engineering questions like "is it worthwhile to retract landing gears," or "can I reduce engine drag without degrading cooling" questions which NACA could answer with the aid of large new facilities, affordable only by the government.
Dr. Ames fostered and approved such work because it was urgently needed not because NACA had decided to reject science or theory. As a PhD in physics, Ames understood scientific research at least as well as Munk. Lewis also had a stronger than usual academic background. There was no rejection of individual research, or theory, or fresh ideas.

But how does one verify such an assertion? Did the NACA choose to address engineering problems because they were the most compelling, or because the agency was staffed by engineers who found them most compelling? Ames signed many papers on his weekly trip to Washington, but I find little evidence that he played a active role in formulating the research program.