NACA Inspections

Ames Aeronautical Laboratory


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Ames hosted a triennial inspection on June 27 and 28, 1955. The dates were selected to follow the joint meetings in Los Angeles of the Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences and the Royal Aeronautical Society. It was the 40th anniversary of the NACA, and guests were given a history booklet written by Jerome Hunsaker (and included in this PDF). He prepared it for the NACA anniversary dinner held on April 14, 1955 at the Smithsonian Institution, at which U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren presented Hunsaker with the Langley Medal.

By 1955, supersonic aircraft were entering military service, and NACA work to solve problems associated with them dominated the meeting. Carlton Bioletti defined the intellectual structure of the Inspection, and quoted Hugh Dryden: "Many of the major problems of the aircraft of the future are old problems in new dress." Designing sleek new aircraft able to fly at supersonic speed re-introduced old problems like buffeting, damping, and stability (and how the pilot can control those) as well as weight distribution and landing performance.

Furthermore, the number of test facilities at Ames was expanding rapidly, leaving Bioletti choices on where to host the topical presentations. Some presentations addressed new topics in old facilities: a session on static stability was presented in the 6- by 6-foot supersonic wind tunnel, on dynamic stability in the 7- by 10-foot wind tunnel, on airplane flexibility (meaning wing loads and bending) in the airplane hangar, and on take-off and landing in the 40- by 80-foot wind tunnel. Some were presented in new facilities. A talk on the role of flight simulators aided by analog computers was done in the flight research hangar, where a YF-86D aircraft was hooked up to a separate cockpit model. As a result, lunch was moved from the hangar to the sheet metal shop. A presentation on hypersonic research, accompanied by a press release, on work at Ames on the reentry heating problem, was done in the new heat transfer tunnel (a precursor to the arc jet). A presentation on transonic research was done in the 14-foot transonic wind tunnel, which had recently been converted from the 16-foot tunnel, accompanied by a press release on the performance of the tunnel. The Unitary Plan wind tunnels, at Ames as well as Cleveland and Langley, had just begun operating. There was one session in the Ames Unitary Plan to inform the potential users on the capabilities of those tunnels, and also a session on jet aircraft crash and fire survival.