The predecessor of NASA, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) was founded in 1915 with the intent of being an advisory committee that would coordinate research underway elsewhere. It quickly became a leading research organization in the new field of aeronautics, pushing back the boundaries of flight until its transformation into NASA in 1958.
Goett became a project engineer at Langley Aeronautical Laboratory in 1936, moving to Ames Aeronautical Laboratory in 1940. He was chief of the Full-Scale and Flight Research Division at Ames from 1948 to 1959.
William H. “Hewitt” Phillips was a major contributor to advances in the aeronautical and space programs of the NACA and NASA. His knowledge and expertise in the fields required for aerospace vehicles and technology was exceptionall broad.
In 1929, Abe Silverstein joined the NACA's Langley Laboratory where he helped design the Full Scale Wind Tunnel. After 14 years, he was transferred to the Lewis Research Center, eventually becoming its director.
Weick joined NACA at Langley Aeronautical Laboratory in 1925, where he was responsible for heading the development of the NACA cowling, a development that dramatically reduced drag on aircraft engines.
When Chris Kraft was a young student fresh out of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, Virginia, he didn't know where he was going next. Having lived in Virginia all his life, he thought the local NACA laboratory was too close to home. He wanted a chance to go somewhere different. But the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory in Hampton offered him a position in the Flight Research Division, and a chance to train as an aeronautical engineer. Kraft never looked back and began his long and historic NASA career in 1945.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Annie Easley's mother told her, "You can be anything you want to be, but you have to work at it." She later moved with her husband to Cleveland, Ohio, and in 1955 read a story in the newspaper that the NACA Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory was hiring "computers." She applied the next day and was hired two weeks later. Faced with the prejudices of the time period, she adopted an attitude of "If I can't work with you, I will work around you. I was not about to be so discouraged that I'd walk away."
Jack Boyd had always wanted to go to California, so when a friend told him the NACA was hiring at their laboratories, he chose the Ames Aeronautical Laboratory near Mountain View. Two weeks after sending in his application, he received a telegram telling him he was hired as an engineer. Because he had studied supersonic aerodynamics, his supervisor put him in a wind tunnel to devise airfoils and begin testing them at supersonic speeds. That simple choice of moving to California began a 73 year long career with NASA.
Betty Love began work at the NACA High Speed Flight Research Station in California as a "computer" in 1952. She later recalled, "Our office was like a library. Only the hum of the Friedan calculators was the noise that you heard. No one spoke. You weren’t supposed to visit with your neighbor. You were supposed to keep your work right in front of you and do that. You weren’t to go down and visit with the engineers." She attained an engineering position herself and retired in 1973, but Betty continued to support NASA by volunteering and preserving the Center's history.
After taking a Civil Service test, Jo Dibella received an offer for a temporary job with the Adjudications Section Social Security Board and moved to Washington, DC, in June, 1937. In early 1938, while working for the Census Bureau, she met someone at a local church concert who told her that the NACA was hiring secretaries. She landed that job and worked for Thomas Neill for 14 years. When Director Hugh Dryden needed a new secretary, she applied and won that position. Jo continued working with Dr. Dryden through the transition of NACA to NASA and until his death in 1965.
Milt Silveira graduated from the University of Vermont in 1951 on a Friday and started work the following Monday morning at the NACA Langley Aeronautical Laboratory. After serving in Korea as a helicopter pilot, he returned to Langley in 1955 and worked on helicopter loads and vibrations. “NACA was an organization that had some of the top people. Most of the time they were the experts in that particular field." Silveira joined the Space Task Group in 1961, moving to the Manned Spacecraft Center, and later retired as the Chief Engineer for NASA in 1986.
NACA to NASA to Now: The Frontiers of Air and Space in the American Century by Roger D. Launius tells the story of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) and its successor, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). (SP-4419, 2022)
The Wind and Beyond
The Wind and Beyond is an award-winning multi-volume reference work, drawing together the historical documents that spell out the advancements in aviation technology and aerodynamics throughout the twentieth century. (SP-4409)
The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics: An Annotated Bibliography
This annotated bibliography is a compilation of monographs, journal and newspaper articles, and congressional hearings that chronicle milestones in the history of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). (SP-4555, 2014)
Atmosphere of Freedom
Atmosphere of Freedom: 75 Years at the NASA Ames Research Center by Glenn E. Bugos (SP-4314, 2014) (PDF)
Crafting Flight: Aircraft Pioneers and the Contributions of the Men and Women of NASA Langley Research Center by James Schultz (SP-4316, 2003) (PDF)
The Spoken Word
The Spoken Word: Recollections of Dryden History, The Early Years, Edited by Curtis Peebles (SP-4530, 2003) (PDF)
Exploring the Unknown
Volume 1 of Exploring the Unknown, Selected Documents in the History of the U.S. Civil Space Program, Edited by John M. Logsdon (SP-4407, 1995) (PDF)
Engineer in Charge
Engineer in Charge: A History of the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, 1917–1958 by Elizabeth A. Muenger (SP-4305, 1987) (PDF)
Model Research: The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, 1915–1958 by Alex Roland (SP-4103, 1985) (PDF)
Adventures in Research
Adventures in Research: A History of Ames Research Center, 1940–1965 by Edwin P. Hartman (SP-4302, 1970) (PDF)