of the week
03:03:12 - 05:05:12
03:03:12 -- PICTURES OF THE WEEK: "Human Computers". Top -- from 1949, women served as the first computers for the Computer Department at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) High-Speed Flight Research Station. Hired because of their math degrees or teaching background, they took raw data from the aircraft -- beginning with film traces -- and generated pages and pages of numbers, then graphed them for the engineers to use. Over the next 15 years they were gradually replaced with electronic computers. Middle -- from 1949, the women of the Computer Department at the NACA High-Speed Flight Research Station are shown busy with test flight calculations. The computers under the direction of Roxanah Yancey were responsible for accurate calculations on the research test flights made at the Station. There were no mechanical computers at the station in 1949. Shown starting at the left are: Geraldine Mayer and Mary (Tut) Hedgepeth with Friden calculators on the their desks; Emily Stephens conferring with engineer John Mayer; Gertrude (Trudy) Valentine working on an oscillograph recording reducing the data from a flight. Across the desk is Dorothy Clift Hughes using a slide rule to complete data calculations. Roxanah Yancey completes the picture as she fills out engineering requests for further data. Bottom -- Langley's "human computers" at work in 1947.
03:10:12 -- PICTURE OF THE WEEK: At the NASA Langley Pilotless Aircraft Research Division technician William Ferguson adjusts coupling on typical NACA D4 automatic control research missile with double Deacon booster, August 18, 1950. Joseph Shortal noted that a new research authorization was issued on September 29, 1948 "to study various automatic stabilization systems for pilotless aircraft." Earlier research had revealed aerodynamic control problems at speeds beyond Mach 1. The first two development missiles in this research program were launched in April 1949; the first stabilized missile on May 24, 1949. That flight was successful and "verified the wing-tip aileron control system, the adaptation of the gyro-actuated control to supersonic flight, and a method for calculating rolling response." "A typical D4 missile is shown on the launcher.... This particular missile was launched August 1950, by which time the booster had been changed to a double-Deacon System to obtain higher speeds. The D4 missile configuration was also found to be a desirable one from pitch and yaw considerations in later flights. Its general configuration was followed later in the design of the Navy-Martin Bullpup air-to-ground guided missile." Excerpts from Joseph Shortal's history of Wallops Station.
03:17:12 -- PICTURE OF THE WEEK: July 19, 1996 photocopy of a historical recruiting poster for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The poster, directed at engineers, shows Cleve E. Voss holding a model of a B-47, a Douglas D-558-2, a 6x6 ft w.t. and a slide rule. The poster was on display at Macy's department store in San Francisco from 1947 through 1950, and the poster above was recovered from Voss's wife and copied from the bedroom door to which it had been adhered.
03:24:12 -- PICTURE OF THE WEEK: From July, 1950. At the NASA Langley Pilotless Aircraft Research Division. Sperry Model 10 Velocimeter, Doppler radar at Wallops Island with trackers P.R. Mears and J. Quillen. Metallic ears pointed to the heavens, this radio tracking device kept tabs on Wallops rocket firings. Joseph Shortal has described this Doppler radar as follows: "The Doppler radar was a genuine asset to PARD; it made possible the direct determination of velocity and allowed the measurement of drag for such simple models as the RM-2 and RM-5 types. Doppler radars were used in every launching from Wallops." "In cooperation with the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground, specifications for a more powerful Doppler radar were prepared. A 150-watt radar which its manufacturer, Sperry Gyroscope Corp., called the Model 10 Velocimeter, was purchased. This radar was mounted on a SCR-547 trailer, which led Langley men to call it the TPS-547 radar for some time. This radar had a range of approximately five miles and was the first of a series of this type in use at Wallops for many years." "One operator directed the dishes toward the target in azimuth while the other operator controlled the elevation (The fact that two operators with independent gun sights and earphones could coordinate their efforts in this fashion surprised many "experts".). The Doppler radars were always located near the launcher and the operators normally served in the dual capacity of rocket technicians. After the Velocimeter was placed in operation, the TPS-5 radars were no longer used."
03:31:12 -- PICTURE OF THE WEEK: From August, 1951. A NACA researcher examines a model mounted in the slotted test section of the 16-foot high speed wind tunnel after installation of slotted walls. Langley's development of slotted walls for wind tunnels permitted a smooth transition from subsonic to supersonic airflow and is widely considered a benchmark in aeronautical research.
04:07:12 -- PICTURE OF THE WEEK: From September, 1950. Technician Durwood Dereng prepares to pull the external-power plug from an E17 drag-research model at Wallops, September 8, 1950. Photograph published in A New Dimension; Wallops Island Flight Test Range: The First Fifteen Years by Joseph Shortal (page 224) - A NASA publication.
04:14:12 -- PICTURE OF THE WEEK: Testing advanced designs for high-speed aircraft in 1948, an engineer makes final calibrations to a model mounted in the 6 x 6 Foot Supersonic Wind Tunnel at the NACA Ames Aeronautical Laboratory, Moffett Field, California. NACA, NASA's predecessor organization the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, was established in March 1913 by Congress to ''supervise and direct the scientific study of the problems of flight, with a view to their practical solutions.'' The Ames Aeronautical Laboratory is now NASA's Ames Research Center.
04:21:12 -- PICTURE OF THE WEEK: From 1956, the instrument panel of the Bell Aircraft Corporation X-1B was quite conventional in appearance and fairly typical of 1950s vintage research aircraft. Primary flight instrumentation was centrally mounted, with propulsion system and test equipment switches and instruments. The Bell X-1, originally designated XS-1, was a joint NACA/Army/Air Force supersonic research project built by Bell Aircraft. Conceived in 1944 and designed and built over 1945, it eventually reached nearly 1,000 mph in 1948. A derivative of this same design, the Bell X-1A, having greater fuel capacity and thus longer engine-burn time, exceeded 1,600 mph in 1954. The X1-B was the first aircraft to exceed the speed of sound in controlled, level flight, and was the first of the so-called X-planes, an American series of experimental aircraft designated for highly classified tests of new technologies. The X-1B completed a total of 27 flights before retirement in 1958.
04:28:12 -- PICTURE OF THE WEEK: Entitled "Outer Space" this exquisite video of Saturn and its moons by Netherlands-based filmmaker Sander van den Berg is derived entirely from image sequences from NASA's Cassini and Voyager missions. (Running time one minute, 52 seconds.)
05:05:12 -- PICTURE OF THE WEEK: From January 1957. The Douglas D-558-1 Skystreak is seen close-up in this inflight photograph. Although less well known than the X-1 rockt planes, the D-558-1 could carry out research roles that complemented those of the more glamorous, rocket-powered craft. The D-558-1 was relatively slow, with only one flight exceeding a speed of Mach 1 (the speed of sound). However, the jet-powered Skystreak could fly for sustained periods at transonic speeds, increasing the amount of data a single flight could yield. By contrast, the rocket-powered X-1 could only provide transonic data for brief periods on each flight. Conceived in 1945, the D558-1 Skystreak was designed by the Douglas Aircraft Company for the U.S. Navy Bureau of Aeronautics, in conjunction with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The Skystreaks were turojet powered aircraft that took off from the ground under their own power and had straight wings and tails. All three D-558-1 Skystreaks were powered by Allison J35-A-11 turbojet engines producing 5,000 pounds of thrust. All the Skystreaks were initially painted scarlet, which lead to the nickname "crimson test tube." NACA later had the color of the Skystreaks changed to white to improve optical tracking and photography. The Skystreaks carried 634 pounds of instrumentation and were ideal first-generation, simple, transonic research airplanes. Much of the research performed by the D-558-1 Skystreaks, was quickly overshadowed in the public mind by Chuck Yeager and the X-1 rocket plane. However, the Skystreak performed an important role in aeronautical research by flying for extended periods of time at transonic speeds, which freed the X-1 to fly for limited periods at supersonic speeds.
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