RELEASE NO. 02-032
Aerospace society names Hampton center an historic
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)
has selected the NACA Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory for
a 2001 Historic Aerospace Site award. The NACA laboratory is the
predecessor of today's NASA Langley Research Center and opened in
Hampton, Va., in 1917.
A ceremony at 1 p.m. Friday, April 26, at NASA Langley's Reid
Conference Center will celebrate the recognition. Massachusetts
Institute of Technology curator of science and technology, Dr.
Deborah Douglas, will be keynote speaker. Dr. Douglas will present
"Standing on the Shoulders of Giants" that will highlight the
unique contributions the National Advisory Committee for
Aeronautics (NACA) Hampton site made to the nation. The author of
United States Women in Aviation, Douglas was the visiting historian
at NASA Langley Research Center from 1994 to 1999.
The NACA was established by Congress in 1915 largely in response
to the growing dominance of European aircraft. One of its first
steps toward regaining air superiority was to establish a research
center for aviation. NACA Langley's mission was forthright: to find
practical solutions to the problems of flight.
The Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory had a proud history
and a long list of technological firsts. Langley hired and trained
generations of aeronautical engineers, technicians, managers and
leaders, and, in the process, helped establish the nation's
aeronautical infrastructure. From Langley came a group of people
who broke technological barriers, created an inventory of
aeronautical research tools, helped set up the country's aviation
industry, contributed to the establishment of aeronautical
departments at universities throughout the nation, and worked to
create five of NASA's current field centers located across the
Langley's early focus was aviation. But the minds and talents of
the laboratory's workforce were challenged anew -- first by jet
propulsion and supersonic flight in the '40s, then by spaceflight
in the '50s. Langley achieved major breakthroughs in all areas. Its
researchers and test pilots helped break the sound barrier at
Edwards Air Force Base. Other Langley researchers were instrumental
in designing the Mercury space capsule, setting the stage for the
laboratory's leadership role in the space program.
With the establishment of the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration in 1958, the Langley Memorial Aeronautical
Laboratory became NASA's Langley Research Center.
The AIAA will recognize the early Langley accomplishments with a
bronze plaque that will be presented to the current Langley
Director April 26.
NOTE TO EDITORS: NACA personnel who helped define the early
aeronautical infrastructure will be available for interview
following the event. Reporters who wish interviews should contact
Marny Skora at 757-864-6124 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org for
credentials and Center access.
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