NACA Inspections

Ames Aeronautical Laboratory


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The 1950 biennial Inspection of the Ames Aeronautical Laboratory was held on July 10 to 12. Identical programs were planned for each of the 3 days. On the 12th, most of the guests were students in the military academies and, on July 13, Ames employees were invited tour the facilities and see the presentations. A public open house planned for July 16th was cancelled because of the "international situation." Two weeks before, on June 27,the United Nations launched a police action in response to the invasion of South Korea by troops from the North. Last-minute cancellations reduced total registrations at the Inspection to 666 guests. NACA chairman Jerome Hunsaker opened the Inspection by noting: "even though we are a civilian agency of the Government, we are much concerned with national security."

Russell Robinson organized the flow of the presentations: "Our product is not aircraft, engines, or missiles, not even experimental or research aircraft, engines or missiles. NACA uses these but only as a means to an end...the research job is not finished until the results are analyzed, a satisfactory explanation obtained regarding the controlling factors, conclusions drawn that will assist designers in general, and the whole accurately reported." Technical papers useful to any and all aircraft designers, as summarized in the Inspection presentations, were the product of the NACA.

Although the speeches were still presented in 10 of Ames' most prominent facilities, some of which operated during the talks, the speeches focused on research topics rather than the facilities themselves. Topics focussed on the problems of supersonic flight: high-speed research on high-speed wings, low-speed research on high-speed wings, airfoil and body interactions, propellers, air inlets, dynamic stability, aeroelasticity and loads, buffeting, and research at high supersonic speeds and at higher supersonic speeds (meaning missiles at hypersonic speeds). The star at this Inspection was Ames' new supersonic free-flight tunnel, designed by Harvey Allen's branch to reach low hypersonic speeds, and Ames researchers formally addressed how they expected to someday open up flight in the hypersonic regime.