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Increasing Cold War security concerns led to a reduction of technical information on display during the July 1952 Inspection at Ames.


The 4th biennial Inspection of the Ames laboratory was held on July 14 and 15, 1952.  As before, the program was identical both days so that the 785 guests could be divided into manageable halves.  The Langley and Lewis Laboratories, as well as NACA headquarters, each sent one DC-3 with about a dozen researchers to the Ames Inspection.  The Sunday afternoon before, there was a private party to mark the 30th anniversary of Smith DeFrance’s service to the NACA.  After the Inspection, the Main Committee members travelled to southern California to visit the High-Speed Flight Research Station and the Naval Air Missile Test Center at Point Mugu.  Others went to Los Angeles for meetings of the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences.

This was one of the first Inspections where the NACA talked openly about security restrictions on its presentations, leading them to be less technical. They tracked who was an American citizen; the 1955 Inspection would be restricted to American citizens.  Ames researchers began to see as more important, in both size and seriousness, their technical conferences.  Examples of these included the conferences on Supersonic Aerodynamics in February 1950, on Aerodynamic Design Problems of Supersonic Guided Missiles in October 1951, and on the Aerodynamics of High Speed Aircraft in July 1953.  These conferences had all the practice and polish of the Inspections, but with a more expert audience.  Jack Boyd joined the NACA in 1947, but by the 1950 conference on Supersonic Aerodynamics had already been tasked to present work done in the 6- by 6-foot supersonic tunnel.  Sitting in the front row were luminaries such as Hans Liepman, Tsien Hsue-Shen, Theodore von Karman.  When Boyd expressed nervousness at addressing such an esteemed audience, von Karman, in his thick accent, assured him:  “Young man, I assure you that you know more about your subject than we do.”

This 1952 Inspection, and those following, took on a more public-relations tone. Still, the Inspection was a great way to display how all the research work at Ames was interconnected, and thus supported the totality of American aerospace.  Victor Stevens shaped the intellectual structure of the presentations.  In addition to a booklet summarizing the presentations, he also prepared a booklet of the slides that were shown, with space for taking notes.  Presentation topics included aeronautical loads, landing, static stability, automatic stability, missile dynamics, model construction, propellers and helicopters, higher speeds and longer range, research airplanes, and aerodynamic friction and heating.  Wherever possible, Ames highlighted its capabilities in hypersonic research.  The NACA issued three press releases to highlight its most timely research.  One focused on aerodynamic heating and the 1600° F rise along the skin of missiles flying at Mach 5.  Another release summarized a technical presentation on the prospects of boundary layer control to improve landing performance on supersonic wings.  It was also at this Inspection that the NACA issued a press release on plans for the Unitary Plan Wind Tunnels.

Brochure cover.
1952 Ames Inspection Brochure.

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See Other Inspections

Man filming engine test.
Ramjet testing behind the Jet Propulsion Static Laboratory (10/23/1946).

1947 Lewis Inspection

The first Inspection at the Cleveland laboratory, held in October 1947, emphasized issues pertaining to post-war development of the turbojet engine.

Model in wind tunnel.
High-speed aircraft in Ames' 40-By 80-Foot Wind Tunnel.

1948 Ames Inspection

The July 1948 Inspection at the Ames Laboratory highlighted the facility’s new wind tunnels and work on heat transfer and aircraft control systems.

Prop engine in AWT.
A General Electric TG-100 turboprop engine in the Altitude Wind Tunnel (1946).

1948 Lewis Inspection

During the September 1948 Inspection, the NACA renamed its Cleveland laboratory in honor of the recently deceased George W. Lewis.

4x4 Display.
Display for Langley's 4-By 4-Foot Supersonic Wind Tunnel (1949).

1949 Langley Inspection

Langley’s biennial Inspection in May 1949 featured its recent work in high-speed aerodynamics, particularly in the transonic stage.

8x6 compressor.
This compressor produces 13,000 miles per hour air speeds for research in the 8-By 6-Foot 6 Supersonic Wind Tunnel (1949).

1949 Lewis Inspection

At the September 1949 Inspection, the NACA unveiled Lewis’ recently completed 8-by 6-Foot Supersonic Wind Tunnel and a new style of presenting the technical information in a more understandable manner.

16-Foot High Speed Tunnel
Ames' 16-Foot High Speed Tunnel (1949).

1950 Ames Inspection

The July 1950 biennial Inspection at the Ames Laboratory’s took place shortly after the onset of the Korean War and signaled the beginning of the NACA’s transition into missile and rocket research.

Missile display.
Flutter research display at the Langley Inspection (1951).

1951 Langley Inspection

Langley’s 1951 biennial Inspection addressed tools necessary for transonic research and efforts to transition from manual data computations to mechanical and digital computers.

Aircraft model.
Model in Ames wind tunnel.

1952 Ames Inspection

Increasing Cold War security concerns led to a reduction of technical information on display during the July 1952 Inspection at Ames.

Tunnel display.
Langley 6-Foot Transonic Tunnel exhibit.

1953 Langley Inspection

The Langley Laboratory featured its helicopter research during the biennial Inspection in May 1953.

Aicraft crash test.
Lewis' Crash Fire Test Program.

1954 Lewis Inspection

The Lewis Laboratory’s June 1954 Inspection emphasized the NACA’s role in the Cold War, while demonstrating the new Propulsion Systems Laboratory and its growing rocket research.

Drive motors.
Drive motors for Ames' Unitary Plan Tunnel.

1955 Ames Inspection

The talks at the June 1955 Inspection of the Ames Laboratory revealed that the more advanced aircraft of the future required the same type of NACA research as previous generations.

10x10 Control Room.
Control room for Lewis' new 10-By 10-Foot Supersonic Wind Tunnel (1956).

1956 Lewis Inspection

The May 1956 Inspection was dedicated entirely to the Lewis Laboratory’s new Unitary Plan Tunnel (the 10- by 10-Foot Supersonic Wind Tunnel).

Model in 10x10.
1957 Lewis Inspection tour stop.

1957 Lewis Inspection

The October 1957 Inspection at the Lewis Laboratory ushered the NACA into the space age and signaled the beginning of the end for the agency.

Aircraft illustration.
Chart used during the 1958 NACA Ames Inspection.

1958 Ames Inspection

The July 1958 Inspection at Ames was both the laboratory’s final Inspection and the final Inspection of the NACA era.

Group photograph.
Guests at Langley's 1964 Inspection pose in the Full Scale Tunnel.

1964 Langley Inspection

NASA’s first Inspection, held at Langley in May 1964, emphasized the role the former NACA labs were playing in the new Office of Advanced Research and Technology (OART).

Empty chairs with display.
Space power systems stop for the 1966 Inspection.

1966 Lewis Inspection

Lewis Research Center held an Inspection in October 1966 to mark its 25th anniversary and demonstrate both its space research and resurgent aeropropulsion work.

Aircraft engines.
Aircraft engines on display at the 1973 Inspection.

1973 Lewis Inspection

NASA’s final Inspection, held at Lewis in September 1973, sought to demonstrate a wide variety a civilian applications for NASA technology.

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