Since 1939, Ames contributions have fundamentally shaped fields of study related to aeronautics and space. The ingenuity and problem-solving capabilities of personnel at Ames have affected all our lives in numerous ways, from everyday air travel to how we envision the possibility of life on other worlds. Ames evolved as a special place where state-of-the-art facilities and world-class talent melded to produce cutting-edge research in fields such as aerodynamics, thermodynamics, simulation, space and life sciences, and intelligent systems. Basic and applied research have been cornerstones of Ames since its founding as an aeronautical laboratory. That laboratory was an expansion of the first National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, or NACA, facilities at Langley Aeronautical Laboratory in Hampton, Virginia, and it transitioned to research center with the advent of NASA in 1958.
During the Great Depression, the NACA’s laboratory in Virginia was feeling the strain. There was no room left on the tarmac for flight research aircraft and U.S. flight research was lagging far behind Germany’s. Congress decided it was time to establish a second NACA laboratory on the West Coast.