Celebrating The Centennial Of NASA’s Predecessor, The NACA

The first meeting of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) in the Office of The Secretary Of War April 23, 1915. Image Credit: NASA

The first meeting of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) in the Office of The Secretary Of War April 23, 1915. Image Credit: NASA

March 3, 2015 – NASA is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its antecedent, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The NACA was formed on March 3, 1915 because Congress feared the U.S. was losing its edge in aviation technology to Europe, where World War 1 was raging on. NACA’s mission, in part, was to “supervise and direct the scientific study of the problems of flight with a view to their practical solution.”

With a small budget and no paid staff, the NACA began developing the capabilities our nation needed to gain leadership in aeronautics. The engineers at the NACA created world-class laboratories and wind tunnels that led to fundamental advances in aeronautics and spawned the modern aerospace industry. Many names we know from the early days of space exploration got their start at the NACA – including Robert Gilruth, Hugh Dryden, Chris Kraft, Gene Kranz and Neil Armstrong, among many others.

Throughout and beyond World War II, the NACA developed or helped develop many aeronautical breakthroughs that are still used today — from engine cowlings, to retractable landing gear, and jet engine compressors and turbines.

When the nation’s focus began turning to space during the 1950s, it was decided that the NACA’s 7,500 employees and $300 million in facilities would transition on October 1, 1958, to a new agency. Some of the NACA’s brightest minds became leaders of the space effort and directors of NASA research centers. One former NACA employee put the first footprints on the moon.

Now, NASA is celebrating the 100th anniversary with several events highlighting the NACA’s contribution to the nation’s space program and aeronautics research. The observance began today with the NACA Centenary: A Symposium on 100 Years of Aerospace Research and Development, an event hosted by NASA and the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

The two-day event can be viewed on NASA Television’s NTV-2 (Education) Channel or online at:

http://go.nasa.gov/1Ed2Pnq

For the schedule of panelists, visit:

http://go.nasa.gov/1Ed2WPD

Visit http://www.nasa.gov/naca100 to learn more about the NACA’s history, contributions and people.