NACA Inspections

Ames Aeronautical Laboratory

1946

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Ames Aeronautical Laboratory hosted its first Inspection on July 16, 1946.

Two years earlier, on June 8, 1944, Ames had hosted a dedication ceremony that served as an Inspection, though on a much smaller scale. In the rush to start building wind tunnels while the Nation fought World War II, Ames leadership had eschewed any form of groundbreaking. There had been no ceremony to formally dedicate the Laboratory in the name of Joseph Sweetman Ames, long-standing chairman of the NACA, who had died on June 23, 1943. This 1944 dedication ceremony was to formally name the Laboratory for Ames and to give many aviation luminaries their first view of the new Laboratory. Visitors came from industry, military, universities and the NACA-92 people in total, including most of the NACA Main Committee.

The 1946 annual Inspection at Ames was a grander event, coming a few months after the first post-war Inspection at Langley. It was organized with the precision that became customary of NACA Inspections. As was case for all Ames Inspections over the coming decade, general preparations were led by Jack Parsons, Ames associate director, and responsibility for their execution fell to Marie St. John, secretary to Laboratory Director Smith J. DeFrance. More than 400 people attended. DeFrance had decided the presentations should focus, somewhat narrowly, on the performance and testing capabilities of the new wind tunnels and research facilities at Ames. This was the first time many attendees had seen them. Ames used the occasion to dedicate its new 12-foot low-turbulence pressurized wind tunnel, and distributed a special booklet on its specifications. William F. Durand, Stanford professor and former member of the NACA, led that dedication. A notable feature was the display of visiting aircraft, many of which had transported guests there, and all of which had been touched in some way by NACA research. After the Inspection at Ames, the NACA Main Committee travelled to Los Angeles to visit the factories of California-based aerospace firms.