NACA Inspections

Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory


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The Flight Propulsion Research Laboratory hosted its first Inspection on October 8 to 10, 1947. The NACA created the Cleveland laboratory during World War II to study and improve aircraft engines. Initially, the lab concentrated on the piston engines, which powered contemporary military aircraft, but as the war progressed it began investigating turbojet engines. The laboratory reorganized after the war to concentrate nearly all of its efforts on the jet engine and high-speed flight. Technology advanced rapidly after the war, and the U.S. Army conducted the first supersonic flight days after the 1947 Inspection.

The 1947 Inspection highlighted different aspects of the laboratory's engine work, including compressor, turbine, fuels, high-altitude combustion, and materials research. The Inspection also featured the laboratory's Altitude Wind Tunnel—the nation's only facility for operating full-scale jet engines in simulated altitude conditions. The lab demonstrated its flight research capabilities with an Administration Building flyby of a P-61 Black Widow aircraft with an operating ramjet engine underneath its wing. The Inspection also included an early view of the lab's rocket engine work, complete with firings of small rocket engines in the new Rocket Lab test cells.

Over 1000 aviation experts attended the event. The aircraft manufacturers attended the first day, the military the second day, and local industry and political leaders the third. Jesse Hall managed all preparations. The lab also began the tradition of holding an open house for employees and their families the Sunday following the event. The 1947 Inspection is also notable for the presence of the NACA's new Director of Aeronautical Research, Hugh Dryden. Dryden had recently replaced the ailing George Lewis.