National Advisory Committee For Aeronautics

The NACA was formed in 1915 by the Congress, aware that the U. S. was far behind Europe in airplane and engine design and construction. In 1917, the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory (LMAL) of the NACA was established in Hampton VA, co-located with the U. S. Army Signal Corps airfield there. By 1919 several WW I airplanes were being tested and modified for improved performance and flying qualities, including stall and spins testing on the Curtiss JN4 trainer. Many innovations originated there in the following years, including the NACA cowling which improved performance for radial-engine airplanes. Structural flight research benefited military airplane manufacturers, and they and commercial manufacturers also made wide use of NACA airfoil research and other design improvements which came from a growing group of wind tunnels and from flight research. The U. S. Navy and Air Corps came to NACA with specific performance and handling qualities problems with service airplanes. During WWII, a number of Fighters were tested in the full-scale wind tunnel and in flight to improve performance and handling qualities. In 1941 and 42, Ames Research Center (California) and Lewis Research Center (Ohio) were spun off from the established Langley Research Center in Virginia, and a high speed flight research activity was later begun at Muroc dry lake California).


An estimate 500 Military and Commercial aircraft have cycled though Langley alone, for experimental modification and testing. All have resulted in Technical Reports available to the public (except for classification of reports during W.W. II

when the subject was military aircraft.


NACA was deeply involved and responsible for much of the progress in the U. S. aviation from the 20's onward, though I suspect that many people are not aware of the fact. NACA became NASA in 1958 and continues to conduct wind tunnel, and analytical, and flight research on commercial and military aircraft, though again I know that many people outside of aviation circles are unaware of it.



Jim Patton                   


MR. Patton began flying when a sophomore in high school and started his career as a Navy Aviator and flew off straight-deck carries. He is an aeronautical engineer, served as a FFA test pilot for 8 years. He was research pilot and Chief of Flight Operations at NASA Langley for 21 years. Retired from NASA in 1987 and continued as an independent test pilot 'til last year.


I would like to thank Jim Patton for all his help with the information on this page.


Ed High


High Gallery