SP-4305 ENGINEER IN CHARGE

 

Acknowledgments

 

[xxiii] No book published is ever solely the work of the author. This is especially true in the case of Engineer in Charge. So many people have helped me with its production, and in so many different ways, that ' sometimes think about the book as a community project and about my role in writing it as that of a project leader. This holds true only for the book's strengths, however; its faults and shortcomings are my own.

Gratitude beyond measure goes to Richard T. Layman and Laurence K. Loftin, Jr., for the extraordinary attention and enthusiastic support they gave my work from start to finish. Every NASA center should have a historical program coordinator as bright, conscientious, and interested in serious scholarship as Dick Layman is. Larry Loftin was also a strong booster and confidant. He surrendered countless hours to fielding my questions and responding critically yet cordially to preliminary drafts of my chapters.

NACA/NASA researchers John V. Becker, Richard R. Heldenfels, Axel T. Mattson, and John P. "Jack" Reeder shared several illuminating stories that ' would not have known otherwise, since they were not part of the documentation. Along with Loftin, this quartet kept me on track technically. Getting to know these men gave me a far greater appreciation of the special capabilities of engineers.

I would like to thank many other Langley veterans individually for their contributions of historical information: Marie Bird Allen-Burcher, Donald D. Basis, Emanuel Boxer, Clinton E. Brown, D. William Conner, Martin Copp, John E. Duberg, Macon C. Ellis, Jr., I. Edward Garrick (deceased), Vera Huckel, Helen Johnson, Upshur Joyner, Kitty O'Brien-Joyner, James G. McHugh, Jane Moore, W. Hewitt Phillips, Edward C. Poihamus, Joseph A. Shortal, William C. Sleeman, Jr., Hartley A. Soulé, Betty Toll, Virginia Tucker, Catherine Turner, Harold Turner, Sr., Richard T. Whitcomb, and Helen Willey.

Special thanks to Eastman N. Jacobs, Max M. Munk (deceased), and Fred E. Weick, three of Langley's legendary figures, for granting me extended interviews; and to Mrs. Floyd L. Thompson and Peter Stack, John Stack's son, for donating important documentary collections to the Langley archives.

[xxiv] Throughout my stay at Langley, ' received strong encouragement and extraordinary assistance from members of various organizations, particularly the following persons: Feri Farassat, Randall L. Harris, Sr., Jane Hess, Samuel E. Massenberg, Jack Van Ness, Burnett W. Peters, Jr., William L. Simkins, Barbara Newton, and Sue Seward. Donald P. Hearth, director of the Langley Research Center from 1975 until 1985 and author of this book's foreword, and Hearth's successor Richard H. Petersen, who was deputy director during the period this book was written, followed the progress of my work regularly. They showed great interest in the eventual outcome without trying to influence its contents.

Special thanks also to the talented and hard-working staff of the Floyd L. Thompson Technical Library for being so generous with their time and assistance.

Monte D. Wright, former director of the NASA History Office in Washington, and Alex Roland, former NASA historian (now at Duke University), started me off on this project. It was their strong encouragement and words to the wise, along later with the guidance of Sylvia D. Fries, Wright's successor, that bolstered my confidence and kept me on course through the book's completion. The NASA History Office staff in Washington also provided timely and cordial support.

Several people read the complete draft of the manuscript and offered critical suggestions for its improvement: John V. Becker, Sylvia D. Fries, Richard P. Hallion, Richard T. Layman, Laurence K. Loftin, Jr., Axel T. Mattson, Russell G. Robinson, Alex Roland, and Walter G. Vincenti. Others offered very helpful comments about early versions of specific chapters: Virginia Dawson, Eastman N. Jacobs, Mark Levinson, Richard K. Smith, Edward C. Polhamus, and Monte D. Wright. I am especially grateful to Virginia Dawson for sharing her research on the history of the early jet propulsion investigations at NASA Lewis Research Center; and to John V. Becker for sharing, among other things, his unpublished autobiographical account of Langley's pioneering work on lifting reentry vehicle technology.

I am grateful to Elizabeth A. Muenger, Command Historian at the United States Air Force Academy, for permitting me to see preliminary drafts of her book Searching the Horizon: A History of Ames Research Center, 1940-1976, NASA SP-4304 (GPO: Washington, 1985).

Michael D. Keller, academic dean at Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Missouri, completed a successful doctoral thesis (University of Arizona, 1967) on the history of NACA Langley to 1946. I am grateful for our friendly phone conversation some time back, and hope to meet him someday to share our Langley stories.

[xxv] Heartfelt thanks to Steve Corneliussen, my discerning and diligent editor, who read a fat manuscript with enthusiasm and a meticulous eye for errors. His work improved my product immensely.

Finally, ' would like to acknowledge a great debt to Peggy, my wife, who listened with only sometimes flagging attention to hours of dissertation about the NACA, and to Nathaniel and Jennifer, our children. ' left my family alone on far too many weekends to squeeze in a couple of extra hours of work on Engineer in Charge.

 

January 1986

James R. Hansen

Poquoson, Virginia


previous pageindexnext page