NACA Inspections

Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory


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The Cold War was a theme central to the June 2 to 4, 1954, Inspection of the Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory, Lewis's first since 1951. The recent death of Joseph Stalin and the end of the Korean War did little to ease the relations with the Soviet Union. In his opening remarks, NACA Secretary John Victory noted, "The race for air supremacy is on. The scientific war is on. These are the days in which we will lay our plans for survival or build our own tombs." The NACA’s contributions were critical to the continued increases in U.S. aircraft’s speeds and altitudes as well as to the issues concerning the first missile systems.

During the 1954 Inspection Lewis highlighted its new Propulsion Systems Laboratory, which was the Nation's most powerful altitude testing facility for engines. Lewis was also pursuing issues related to high-speed flight. This included transonic compressors, aerodynamic heating on missiles, ramjet engines, and turbine cooling. Although Lewis remained focused on aircraft propulsion, the lab expanded its high-energy propellants and nuclear propulsion research. Lewis's first liquid hydrogen-liquid oxygen rocket firing took place just months after the Inspection. Researchers also highlighted their efforts on the extensive Crash Fire Test Program and reverse thrusters. Langley and Ames showcased their aerodynamics and flow visualization work.

The 1954 Inspection was the first of the NACA's Triennial Inspections. The NACA instructed Lewis, Langley, and Ames to rotate their Inspections so that each laboratory would hold one every 3 years. The 1954 Lewis Inspection attracted 995 guests. The laboratory held its open house for employees and their families the following Sunday. The 4374 visitors toured nearly all of the laboratory's facilities and heard a reprise of the Inspection presentations. Wilson Hunter again supervised all preparations.