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March 5, 2002

Release: 02-12

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Cover of Expnding the Envelope book
Expanding the Envelope: Flight Research at NACA and NASA is the latest book by NASA Dryden Flight Research Center's chief historian Michael H. Gorn.

Flight research takes up where the other instruments of aeronautical research - wind tunnels, fluid dynamics, and mathematical equations - leave off. No matter how the equations suggest an aircraft ought to fly, only by studying actual flight, often in demanding, complicated, and dangerous maneuvers, can researchers discover the limits of flight and the true characteristics of experimental flight vehicles. The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and its successor, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, led the nation in these endeavors.

Expanding the Envelope is the first book to explore the full panorama of flight research history. Gorn writes of the early experiments conducted by England's Sir George Cayley who in the 19th century tested kites and gliders by subjecting them to experimental flight, and of the Wright brothers' work in the redesign and calibration of flight surfaces in order to achieve the greatest lift and control.

Gorn also explores the vital human aspect of the history of flight research, including the contributions of such well-known figures as James H. Doolittle, Chuck Yeager and A. Scott Crossfield, as well as the equally important engineers, pilots and scientists. While the individuals in the cockpit often receive public attention, Expanding the Envelope shows flight research to be a collaborative activity, one in which the pilot participates as part of an engineering team.

James R. Hansen, author of Engineer in Charge and Spaceflight Revolution, recommends Expanding the Envelope as "Extremely well researched, adding new information and perspective derived from hitherto unexamined or unappreciated archival sources. More specialized work in the history of NACA/NASA flight research will undoubtedly result from the influence of this book."

The University Press of Kentucky publishes the book.

An image of the book cover can be found at the Dryden Web site: /centers/dfrc .


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