NASA Meatball The First Century of Flight: NACA/NASA Contribution to Aeronautics blank graphic 2000–03 space shuttles image
1915 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000–03
bottom graphic—drop shadow bottom graphic—drop shadow bottom graphic—drop shadow
1940 subheader
Ames Laboratory Arial View Picture

April 18, 1940—Ames Aeronautical Laboratory in Moffett Field, California (later renamed NASA Ames Research Center), was formed.

NACA Aircraft Engine Laboratory

January 23, 1941—NACA Aircraft Engine Laboratory in Cleveland, Ohio, later named Lewis Research Center, currently NASA Glenn Research Center, was founded.

R.R. Gilruth Portrait

1941—Report NACA R755, “Requirements for Satisfactory Flying Qualities of an Airplane,” by R.R. Gilruth, was published. This document defined a set of requirements for the handling characteristics of an aircraft. Up until this point, no set of guidelines for pilots and aircraft designers existed.

Ames Tunnel Picture

1944—Ames 40x80 full-scale wind tunnel became operational. It allowed whole aircraft to be wind-tunnel-tested, as compared to models at low flight speeds, and expanded testing capabilities to larger and faster aircraft.



Swept Wing Concept Picture

1945—Robert T. Jones developed in the U.S. the Swept Wing Concept, in which he identified the importance of swept-back wings in efficiently achieving and maintaining high-speed flight.



NACA Langley Arial View Picture

September 1946—NACA Langley sent personnel to Muroc Army Airfield, in the Mohave Desert of California, to support flight research, forming the basis for what was to become NASA Dryden Flight Research Center.

X1 Model Picture

1947—X-1 was the first piloted supersonic aircraft to “break the sound barrier.” Chuck Yeager flew the air-launched, rocket-powered first “X” series experimental aircraft faster than the speed of sound, ushering in the era of supersonic flight.

National Unitary Wind Tunnel Act Picture

1949—National Unitary Wind Tunnel Act of 1949 enabled NACA to erect supersonic tunnels at each of its three research centers, with priority utilization reserved for industry testing. The new facilities proved their worth almost immediately with the discovery of the “Area Rule.”

previous decade next decade

back to the top


link logosNASA History HomepageSearch NASA History

Updated October 28, 2002
Steve Garber, NASA History Web Curator
For further information, e-mail

Designed by Douglas Ortiz and
edited by Lisa Jirousek
NASA Printing and Design