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H. Julian Allen (1910-1977) graduated from Stanford University in 1932 with a B.A. in engineering and earned an advanced degree in engineering from Stanford in 1935. He joined NACA in 1936, at the Langley Aeronautical Lab, as a junior aeronautical engineer. In 1940, he transferred to the Ames Aeronautical Lab, and from 1941 to 1945 was Chief of the Theoretical Aerodynamics Branch at Ames. In 1945, he became Chief of the High-Speed Research Division, serving there until 1959. In 1952, Mr. Allen developed the concept of blunt-bodied craft as a technique for dissipating the heat caused by reentry of space vehicles into Earth's atmosphere, a design that would be used in all human spacecraft from Mercury through Apollo. In 1959, after the formation of NASA, Mr. Allen was appointed the Assistant Director for Astronautics at Ames. He became director of the Center in 1965. He served in this position until his retirement in 1968. ("H. Julian Allen," biographical file, Lek 1/1/4 #000060, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.)|
Joseph Ames (1864-1943) was one of the original members of NACA appointed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1915. At the time, he was associated with Johns Hopkins University. He served as the Chairman of the Executive Committee of NACA from 1919 to 1936 and Chairman of the Main Committee from 1927 until his resignation in 1939. Of the original members of the Committee, he served the longest. The Ames Aeronautical Lab, built in 1940, was named for him. ("Joseph Ames," biographical file, Lek 1/1/5 #000068, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.)
Smith DeFrance (1896-1985) was a military aviator with the Army's 139th Aero Squadron during World War I. He then earned a B.S. in aeronautical engineering from the University of Michigan in 1922 and started his career with NACA that same year. Up until 1924, he served as both a pilot and engineer for NACA. He worked in the flight research section at Langley Aeronautical Laboratory and designed its 30 by 60 foot wind tunnel, the largest ever built at that time (1929-1931). He directed the research in that tunnel and designed other tunnels as well before becoming director of the new Ames Aeronautical Laboratory in 1940. He remained its director until his retirement in 1965. During that time, the center built 19 major wind tunnels and conducted extensive flight research, including the blunt-body research necessary for returning spacecraft from orbit to the Earth's atmosphere without burning up. See Elizabeth A. Muenger, Searching the Horizon: A History of Ames Research Center, 1940-1976, (Washington, DC: NASA SP-4304, 1985), particularly pp. 12-14, 67-68, and 131-132. See also ("Smith J. DeFrance," biographical file, Lek 1/5/1 #000448, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.)
Hugh L. Dryden (1898-1965) earned a B.A. in 1916 and doctorate in 1919 at Johns Hopkins University. He was Director of the NACA from 1947 until the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958, when he was named Deputy Administrator of the new aerospace agency. Before that time, he was Associate Director of the National Bureau of Standards, where he had served since 1918 in scientific research. Beginning in 1920, Dr. Dryden headed the Bureau of Standards Aerodynamics Section. He was advanced to Chief of the Mechanics and Sound Division of the Bureau in 1934, and to Assistant Director in January 1946. Six months later he was appointed Associate Director. During World War II, he served on committees advising the Joint Chiefs of Staff, NACA, the Army Ordnance Department, and the Army Air Forces on guided missiles. After the war, he continued his interest in the Bureau's guided-missiles development program. In 1947, he resigned from the Bureau of Standards to become Director of Research at NACA. Two years later the agency gave him added responsibilities and the new title of Director of NACA. In this capacity, he had charge of an expanding research organization with 8,000 employees, three large laboratory centers, and two smaller research stations. After NACA was incorporated into NASA, Dr. Dryden served as the NASA Deputy Administrator until his death in 1965. For further information on Hugh Dryden see Hugh L. Dryden's Career in Aviation and Space by Michael H. Gorn (Washington, D.C.: Monographs in Aerospace History, No. 5, 1996). Also see The Hugh L. Dryden Papers, 1898-1965 by Richard K. Smith, (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Library, 1974), and ("Hugh L. Dryden," biographical file 002997, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.)
William F. Durand (1859-1958) earned a degree from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1880 and a doctorate in engineering from Lafayette College in 1888. He served as a professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford University from 1904 to 1924. He was appointed as one of the original members of NACA in 1915, and became its first civilian chairman a year later. He served as chairman of NACA from 1916 to 1918 and conducted one of the first NACA-sponsored research programs. After stepping down as chair, he remained a member until 1934. He returned to NACA in 1941, at the age of 81, to serve as the chairman of the committee on jet propulsion and served until 1945. ("William F. Durand," biographical file, Lek 1/5/5 #000521, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.)
Alfred J. Eggers (1922-2006) earned a B.A. from the University of Omaha in 1944 and a doctorate from Stanford University in 1956. He joined NACA at Ames Aeronautical Lab in 1944 as an aerospace scientist specializing in supersonic flight research. He made many contributions to the theories of supersonic aerodynamics and also assisted in the development of new wind tunnels. During the early 1950s, he invented a device to simulate the reentry of space vehicles into Earth's atmosphere. The device went into use at Ames in 1958. He became the Assistant Director of the Center in 1959. In 1964, he was appointed Deputy Associate Administrator for Advanced Research and Technology. He became the Assistant Administrator for Policy in 1968 and retired from NASA in 1971 to take a post at the National Science Foundation. ("Alfred J. Eggers," biographical file, Lek 1/5/6 #000550, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.)
Robert Gilruth (1913-2000) earned a B.S. in aeronautical engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1935 and a master's of science from the same school a year later. He joined NACA as an engineer working at the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory in 1937. In 1946, he was selected to be the first manager of NACA's guided missile range at Wallops Island, Virginia, which later became the Wallops Island Launching Range, and led the team that later became the Pilotless Aircraft Research Division (PARD). This team explored the possibility of human spaceflight before the creation of NASA. During this period, Gilruth also developed the basic testing rules for aircraft maneuverability that determine whether an aircraft is acceptable for flight. These rules form the basis for the current FAA and USAF regulations on acceptable aircraft. He served as Assistant Director at Langley from 1952 to 1959 and as Assistant Director (manned satellites) and head of Project Mercury from 1959 to 1961, which was technically assigned to the Goddard Spaceflight Center but physically located at Langley. In early 1961, T. Keith Glennan established an independent Space Task Group (already the group's name as an independent subdivision of the Goddard center) under Gilruth at Langley to supervise the Mercury program. This group moved to the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC), Houston, Texas, in 1962. Gilruth was the Director of the Center from 1962 to 1972. After retiring as Director of the MSC in 1972, he served as NASA's Director of Key Personnel Development until his retirement from NASA at the end of 1973. For more information, see Henry C. Dethloff, "Suddenly Tomorrow Came . . .": A History of the Johnson Space Center (Washington, DC: NASA SP-4307, 1993); James R. Hansen, Engineer in Charge: A History of the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, 1917-1958 (Washington, DC: NASA SP-4305, 1987), pp. 386-88; and the NASA news release about his death. Also ("Robert Gilruth," biographical file, Lek 1/7/2 #000782-3, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.)
Harry J. Goett (1910-2000) earned a degree in physics from Holy Cross College in 1931 and one in aeronautical engineering from New York University in 1933. After holding a number of engineering posts with private firms, he became a project engineer at Langley Aeronautical Laboratory in 1936. He moved to Ames Aeronautical Laboratory in 1940. He was chief of the Full-Scale and Flight Research Division at the Center from 1948 to 1959. In this capacity, he worked on engineering factors affecting flight of air and space vehicles in the upper atmosphere. After NACA was incorporated into NASA, he chaired the NASA committee, known as the Goett Committee, which developed NASA's early space research. In 1959, he became director of the Goddard Space Flight Center, a post he held until July 1965, when he became a special assistant to NASA Administrator James E. Webb. Later that year he became Director for Plans and Programs at Philco's Western Development Labs in California. Ultimately, he retired from a position with Ford Aerospace and Communications. ("Harry J. Goett," biographical folder, Lek 1/7/6 # 000847, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.)
Jerome Hunsaker (1886-1984) graduated from the Naval Academy in 1908. While serving in the Navy, he earned an M.S. in 1912 and a doctorate of aeronautical engineering in 1916 from MIT. He was associated with NACA during and shortly after World War I, when NACA was loosely under the authority and budget of the Navy. At that time he was in charge of the design, development, and manufacturing of all naval aircraft. He briefly served as a member of NACA in 1922 and 1923 and returned to NACA in 1939. He was elected chairman two years later and served in this position until 1956. Under his tenure, one laboratory, Langley Aeronautical Lab, was completely modernized and two laboratories, Lewis Research Center and Ames Aeronautical Lab, were added. He remained a member of NACA until it was incorporated into NASA in 1958, at which time he retired. ("Jerome Hunsaker," biographical file, Lek 1/9/5 #001069, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.)
Eastman Jacobs (died c.1987) was the head of the Variable Density Wind Tunnel (VDT) Division at Langley Aeronautical Laboratory from 1928 to 1939, when the VDT was replaced with the Two-Dimensional Low Turbulence Tunnel. During this period, Jacobs developed the design for a new type of airfoil, the laminar flow airfoil, which decreased the drag on the wing. During World War II, the airfoil "bible" Jacobs helped create was used by North American to design the P-51 Mustang. His airfoil design created a noticeable increase in the aircraft's speed and range, even though the plane was never able to achieve a true laminar flow in practice. See James R. Hansen, Engineer in Charge: A History of the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, 1917-1958 (Washington, DC: NASA SP-4305, 1987), pp. 99-119.
R.T. Jones (1910-1999) attended the University of Missouri in 1927 and 1928, dropping out to work as a mechanic for a flying circus and, later, as a designer for an aircraft company. He attended graduate courses in aeronautical engineering at Catholic University in Washington, DC, but never completed his degree. He joined NACA Langley Aeronautical Lab in 1934 and remained there until 1946, when he transferred to the Ames Aeronautical Lab. In 1944, he invented the swept wing, which is used on most modern civilian and military aircraft as well as the Space Shuttle. He remained at Ames, working on the concept of the oblique supersonic wing, which later became the basis for the Concorde supersonic aircraft, until 1963 when he went to work for AVCO Everett Research Laboratory. He returned to Ames in 1970 and continued to work on wing design until his retirement in 1988. ("R.T. Jones," biographical file, Lek 1/10/2 #001147, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.)
George Lewis (1882-1948) graduated from Cornell University in 1910 with a master's degree in mechanical engineering and taught mechanical engineering at Swarthmore College from 1910 to 1917. He then became head of research at Clarke Thomson Research Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a private foundation for the promotion of aviation and aircraft engines. This in turn led to his membership on the NACA Power Plants Subcommittee in 1918. Lewis left Clarke Thomson to become the Executive Officer of NACA in 1919. In 1924, he was given the title Director of Aeronautical Research, which he kept until 1947. Lewis was the liaison between the Committee and the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory. He also worked with Congress and with the military. During the late 1930s, he made two trips to Germany to assess aeronautical developments. Upon returning, due to concern for German advances, he advised Congress to expand NACA. Congress did so, doubling NACA's facilities and personnel. During Lewis's tenure, NACA made many advances in aeronautics including the NACA engine cowling, retractable landing gear, and streamlining studies. NACA developed airfoil shapes for wings and propellers in wind tunnel testing, which simplified aircraft design. In 1934, Lewis was appointed by Secretary Newton D. Baker to the Special Committee on the Army Air Corps (Baker Board). In 1937, he was appointed by the President to the Inter-American Aviation Conference in Peru, and, in 1941, to the U.S. National Commission to deal with Inter-American aviation matters. Lewis resigned from NACA in 1947. Following his death in 1948, the Cleveland lab was renamed for him. ("George W. Lewis," biographical file, Lek 1/11/3 #001292, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.)
Max M. Munk (1871-1986) earned an engineering degree at the Hanover Polytechnic School in 1914 and two doctorates in physics and engineering from the University of Gottingen in 1917. In 1920, he immigrated to America and took a job with NACA at Washington, DC, working with theoretical problems. One of his contributions was the design for NACA's second wind tunnel, the Variable Density Wind Tunnel. Munk also revolutionized airfoils by developing a way to apply analytical methods and experimental testing to the process. In 1926, Munk was transferred to the Langley Aeronautical Lab as Chief of the Aerodynamics Division, making him second in charge at Langley. He resigned a year later. ("Max Munk," biographical file, Lek 1/13/2 #001559, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.) Also see James R. Hansen, Engineer in Charge: A History of the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, 1917-1958 (Washington, DC: NASA SP-4305, 1987), pp. 72-98.
John F. Parsons (1908-1969) earned both a B.A. (1928) and an advanced degree (1930) in aeronautical engineering from Stanford University. In 1931, he joined the staff of the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory as a junior aeronautical engineer working with wind tunnels. He transferred to Ames in 1939 when the lab was established and worked on planning, design, and construction of the new center. From 1943 to 1947 he served as the Chief of the Full-Scale and Flight Research Division and was also Chief of the Construction Division, then served as Assistant to the Director of the Center until 1949. From 1949 to 1956, he supervised the wind tunnel construction program, among other duties. He was named Associate Director of Ames in 1952, a position he held until his death in 1969. ("John F. Parsons," biographical file, Lek 1/14/2 #001661, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.)
I. Irving Pinkel (1913- 2008) graduated with honors in 1934 from the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied physics and mathematics. He entered government service in 1935 as a physicist with the U.S. Bureau of Mines, where he did research on the problem of synthesizing liquid fuels from coal. He joined the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory in 1940 and transferred to the Lewis Laboratory in 1942. There he worked on hydraulics problems of aircraft engine lubricating systems operating at high altitudes. This effort led to the development of a method to control foaming in lubricating oil and to a new lubricant pump that met the stringent demands of high-altitude flight. In 1949, he became Associate Chief of the Physics Division at Lewis with responsibility for studying aircraft operating problems. Among other results of this work was a means of reducing the incidence of fire after airplane crashes. Pinkel became Chief of the Flight Problems Division in 1956. Upon the creation of NASA in 1958, Pinkel became Chief of the Fluid Systems Division, later the Fluid Systems and Components Division, where, in 1965, he coordinated the Cleveland facilities' Super Sonic Transport research. In 1968, he was made Director of NASA's Aerospace Safety Research and Data Institute at the Lewis Research Center. He served on the commissions investigating the Apollo 204 fire and the Apollo 13 accident. He retired in 1972. ("I. Irving Pinkel," biographical file, Lek 1/14/5 #NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.) Also see Glen Research Center Ready Reference: Bio: Pinkel, I.I.; 1A Publications: Newspapers. 1942-; Professional Library.
Henry J.E. Reid (1895-1968) graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1919 with a B.S. in electrical engineering. After a brief stint in private industry, he joined NACA's Langley Aeronautical Laboratory in 1921 as one of the small group of engineers and scientists on the professional staff there. His principal field of research was the design and improvement of basic instruments for flight research. He became Director of the Center in 1926 and presided over the extensive growth that accompanied its development as a leading aeronautical and space research facility. He served in this capacity until 1960. He then served as the Center Senior Staff Associate to Dr. Floyd Thompson (Director of Langley Research Center, now part of NASA) until retiring in 1961. ("Henry J. E. Reid," biographical file, Lek 8/13/9 #001778, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.)
Russell Robinson (1908-2003) earned a degree from Stanford in 1930. Upon graduation, he joined NACA at Langley Aeronautical Lab, where he was responsible for the construction of the eight foot wind tunnel. In 1939, while serving as NACA's liaison with West Coast aircraft manufacturers, he supervised the first construction at the Ames Aeronautical Lab. He was called back to Langley in 1940 to assist George Lewis. He returned to Ames in 1950. During this period, he served on a committee that established the Lewis Research Lab. He remained at Ames until his retirement in 1970. ("Russell Robinson," biographical file, Lek 8/14/2 #1807, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.) Also see Stephen M. Jaeger, "An Interview with Russell Robinson," AIAA San Francisco Evolution of Flight, http://www.aiaa-sf.org/evol/robinson.html and "NASA Ames Research Center Turns 65," http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/improvingflight/Ames65thFeature.html.
Robert C. Seamans (1918-2008) earned a B.S. in engineering at Harvard University in 1939, an M.S. in aeronautics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1942, and a doctorate in instrumentation from MIT in 1951. From 1948 to 1958, Dr. Seamans also served on technical committees of NACA. He served as a consultant to the Scientific Advisory Board of the United States Air Force from 1957 to 1959, as a Member of the Board from 1959 to 1962, and as an Associate Advisor from 1962 to 1967. He was a National Delegate of the Advisory Group for Aerospace Research and Development (NATO) from 1966 to 1969. In 1960, Dr. Seamans joined NASA as Associate Administrator. In 1965, he became Deputy Administrator, retaining many of the general management responsibilities of the Associate Administrator and also serving as Acting Administrator. During his years at NASA, he worked closely with the Department of Defense in research and engineering programs and served as cochairman of the Astronautics Coordinating Board. In January 1968 he left NASA to become a visiting professor at MIT and that July was appointed to the Jerome Clarke Hunsaker professorship (named in honor of the founder of the Aeronautical Engineering Department), an MIT-endowed visiting professorship in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. During his time with MIT, he was also a consultant to the Administrator of NASA. In 1969, he became secretary of the United States Air Force, serving until 1973. Dr. Seamans was president of the National Academy of Engineering from May 1973 to December 1974, when he became the first administrator of the new Energy Research and Development Administration. He returned to MIT in 1977 and was named dean of its School of Engineering in 1978. In 1981, he was elected chair of the board of trustees of Aerospace Corp. For further information on Robert C. Seamans, Jr., see his autobiography, Aiming at Targets (NASA SP-4106, 1996) and ("Robert C. Seamans," biographical file, Lek 6/5/6 #003626, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.)
Edward R. Sharp (1894-1961) earned a law degree from the College of William and Mary in 1924. He joined NACA at Langley Aeronautical Lab in 1922. During his 36 years of continuous service to NACA, Dr. Sharp held positions of importance at each of its three principal research establishments. From 1925 to 1940, he was Administrative Officer at Langley Aeronautical Laboratory. In 1941, he served as administrator of the building program of the Ames Aeronautical Laboratory in California, overseeing the establishment of the research facility there. In 1942, he was recalled to Langley to begin the planning process for the establishment of the Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory (Lewis) in Cleveland, Ohio. Upon its completion, he became manager and was appointed Director of the center in 1947. He remained as director of Lewis until his retirement from NASA in 1960. ("Edward R. Sharp," biographical file, Lek 8/1/5 #002000, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.) Also see Glenn Research Center Ready Reference: Bio: Sharp, E.R.; 1A: Publications, newspapers; Professional Library.
Abraham Silverstein (1908-2001) earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering in 1929 and a masters in engineering from Rose Polytechnic Institute. He then joined NACA at the Langley Research Center. There he helped design the Full Scale Wind Tunnel. Silverstein's work resulted in speed improvements of 25 miles per hour for World War II aircraft. In 1943, after 14 years at Langley, Silverstein was transferred to the Lewis Research Center. He played a key role in designing the Altitude Wind Tunnel, the nation's first tunnel capable of simulating altitude conditions. Silverstein also helped design the 8 by 6 foot Supersonic Wind Tunnel, one of the first supersonic tunnels in the nation, and the 10 by 10 foot Supersonic Wind Tunnel. Silverstein was named Chief of the Wind Tunnel and Flight Division. In 1949, he was appointed Chief of Research at the lab, and in 1952, became Associate Director. In this role, Silverstein began shaping the future of aircraft and rocket propulsion, especially in regards to high-energy alternative propellants. Silverstein was transferred to NACA Headquarters in 1958 to assist in the organization of NASA. Later that year, Silverstein was named Chief of Space Flight Programs. Seventeen days after the official founding of NASA, Silverstein's group presented plans for the Mercury Program to new NASA Administrator, T. Keith Glennan. Silverstein also outlined the Apollo, Ranger, Mariner, Surveyor, and Voyager missions. In 1961, Silverstein returned to Lewis as Director of the Center. In 1969, after the Apollo 11 lunar landing, Silverstein retired. In 1994, the NASA Lewis 10 by 10 Supersonic Wind Tunnel was renamed the Abe Silverstein 10 by 10 Supersonic Wind Tunnel. For further information about Silverstein's career see Virginia P. Dawson's Engines and Innovation: Lewis Laboratory and American Propulsion Technology (Washington, DC: NASA SP-4306, 1991), ("Abe Silverstein," biographical file, Lek 8/1/9 #002072, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.) Click here for more information from NASA's Glenn Research Center or view the NASA press release regarding his passing.
John Stack (1906-1972) graduated from MIT in 1928 and joined the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory as an aeronautical engineer. In 1939 he became director of all the high-speed wind tunnels and high-velocity airflow research at Langley. Three years later he was named chief of the compressibility research division there. He was promoted to assistant chief of research in 1947 and subsequently had that title changed to assistant director of the research center. He guided much of the research that paved the way for transonic aircraft, and in 1947 he was awarded the Collier Trophy together with Lawrence Bell, the owner of the company that built the plane and Major Charles E. Yeager, the pilot of the X-1 who broke the sound barrier. He shared another Collier award with his NACA colleagues again in 1952 and later won the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy among other awards. From 1961-1962 he was director of aeronautical research at NASA Headquarters before retiring to become vice president for engineering at Republic Aircraft Corp (later part of Fairchild Industries) from which he retired in 1971. ("John Stack," biographical file, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Office, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.)
Theodore Theodorsen (1897-1978) earned an engineering degree from the Norwegian Institute of Technology at Trondheim, Norway in 1922 and later earned a doctorate in physics from John Hopkins University. He joined NACA in 1929 and was appointed the head of the Physical Research Division at Langley Aeronautical Lab. He worked on airfoil theory, fire prevention in aircraft, theories of wind tunnel design, and engine cowling improvements. He left NACA after World War II. ("Theodore Theodorsen," biographical file, Lek 8/3/2 #002289, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.)
John F. Victory (1892-1974) earned an LL.M. at Georgetown University. He began work for the government in 1908 as a messenger for the patent office. After becoming the first employee of NACA in 1915, he became its secretary in 1921 and its executive secretary in 1948, in general charge of its administration. When NASA came into being, he served as a special assistant to T. Keith Glennan until his retirement at the end of July 1960. Over the years, he became known as "Mr. Aviation" to his friends, who ranged from Orville Wright to the builders of the fastest jet fighters. Although not an engineer or a technician, he assisted NACA in achieving working relationships with Congress, where he frequently testified, the military services, aerospace industry, and related groups engaged in government-sponsored research and development. ("John F. Victory," biographical file, Lek 8/3/9 #002438, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.)
Charles D. Walcott (1850-1927) received no formal college training. He became a geologist by studying with geologists working in the field. He was a member of the U.S. Geological Survey from 1879 to 1907. During this period, he became interested in aviation, even going so far as to request governmental assistance for one inventor, Samuel Pierpont Langley. Beginning in 1907, he served as the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. He was one of the original members of NACA and the first Chairman of its Executive Committee, a post he held until 1919. During this period, he was one of those responsible for the establishment of NACA's first laboratory, the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory. In 1919, he was elected chairman of the Main Committee and remained in that office until his death in 1927. ("Charles Walcott," biographical file, Lek 8/4/9 #002494, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.)
Fred E. Weick (1899-1993) joined NACA at Langley Aeronautical Laboratory in 1925, where he was responsible for heading the development of the NACA cowling. The cowling dramatically reduced drag on aircraft engines, a technological advance that was to have great application during World War II. The development of the cowling led to Weick's winning the Collier Trophy for NACA in 1929. He also helped design the world's first wind tunnel for full-scale propeller research and wrote a textbook on propeller design that is considered a classic in that field. In the early 1930s, he built an experimental airplane for civilian use that included the invention of the tricycle landing gear, now a standard for almost all aircraft, including the Space Shuttle. He left NACA for private industry in 1936. Later in the 1930s, he improved on this landing design with the Ercoupe, a plane that was the first to be certified as tailspin-proof. He returned to NACA as a member of the Industry Consulting Committee from 1946 to 1948. ("Fred E. Weick," biographical file, Lek 8/5/1 #2535, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.)
Richard T. Whitcomb (1921-2009) earned a B.S. in aeronautical engineering at Worchester Polytechnic Institute in 1943. He joined NACA at Langley Aeronautical Lab the same year. In 1951, he invented the concept of the area rule, which required trimming or indenting the midsection of an airplane's fuselage in the area where the wing joined it. The resulting "Coke bottle" shape decreased drag and made it easier for a plane to go supersonic. He became head of the Transonic Aerodynamics Branch at Langley in 1958. In the early 1970s, he invented a method to make civilian planes more fuel efficient by adding vertical projections at the tips of the wing, known as winglets. He officially retired in 1980, but remained at Langley until 1991 as a part-time, unpaid researcher. ("Richard T. Whitcomb," biographical file, Lek 8/5/2 #002585, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.)
Walter C. Williams (1919-1995) earned a B.S. in aerospace engineering from Louisiana State University in 1939. He joined NACA in 1940 at the Langley Aeronautical Lab, serving as a project engineer to improve the handling, maneuverability, and flight characteristics of World War II-fighter planes. Following the war, he went to what is now Edwards Air Force Base to set up flight tests for the X-1, including the first human supersonic flight by Charles E. Yeager in October 1947. He became the founding director of the organization that became Dryden Flight Research Facility. In September 1959, he assumed associate directorship of the new NASA Space Task Group at Langley, created to carry out Project Mercury. He later became Director of Operations for the project, then Associate Director of the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, subsequently renamed the Johnson Space Center. In 1963, Williams moved to NASA Headquarters as Deputy Associate Administrator of the Office of Manned Space Flight. From 1964 to 1975, he was a vice president for Aerospace Corporation. He returned to NASA in 1975, serving as chief engineer of NASA until retiring in 1982. ("Walter C. Williams," biographical file, Lek 8/5/3 #002618, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.)
Demarquis D. Wyatt (1919-1996), a graduate in mechanical engineering from the University of Missouri, Rolla, joined the Lewis Laboratory in 1944, where he specialized in supersonic research in propulsion system installations. He later became the Associate Chief of the Propulsion Aerodynamics Division at Lewis, where he directed the creation and use of its first supersonic wind tunnels. In 1958, Wyatt transferred to NASA Headquarters to become technical assistant to the director for space flight programs. He went on in his career at Headquarters to hold a series of positions as research engineer; as assistant administrator for programming, program plans and analysis; and in policy and university affairs. He retired in 1973. ("DeMarquis Wyatt," biographical file, Lek 8/5/6 # 002838, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.)
Content Author: Elizabeth Suckow