Spaceflight Insider

NASA Ames celebrates aviation history and employee’s 90th birthday

Bill Berry, former Ames Deputy Director, Harry McDonald, former Ames Director and John W. “Jack” Boyd, Senior Advisor to the Ames Center Director in the National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex (NFAC) wind tunnel in front of a full-scale replica of the 1903 Wright ‘Flyer’ prior to testing. Photo Credit: NASA Ames, Tom Trower

Bill Berry, former Ames Deputy Director, Harry McDonald, former Ames Director and John W. “Jack” Boyd, Senior Advisor to the Ames Center Director in the National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex (NFAC) wind tunnel in front of a full-scale replica of the 1903 Wright ‘Flyer’ prior to testing. Photo Credit: NASA Ames, Tom Trower

As NASA encouraged America to commemorate National Aviation Day on Wednesday, Aug. 19, one long-time NASA Ames Research Center employee also celebrated his 90th birthday. John W. “Jack” Boyd started at Ames as an aeronautical engineer in 1947 when it was the Ames Aeronautical Laboratory, part of NASA’s predecessor the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA).

Boyd’s work at Ames involved wind tunnel studies of subsonic and supersonic aircraft and included significant contributions to the theories of conical camber. He also did early research on the design of planetary probes for the exploration of Venus and Mars, and helped develop initial configurations for the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo capsules. Beginning in the mid-1960s, Boyd served in a number of managerial positions at NASA Ames.

Following eight years in the University of Texas system as Chancellor for Research and teaching courses in aerodynamics, engineering, and history of spaceflight, Boyd returned to NASA Ames to establish Aerospace Encounter, an educational outreach program for middle school students. He currently serves as Senior Advisor to the Director of NASA Ames.

When asked about the future of aviation, Boyd said that he hopes research will continue with solving the sonic boom issue to enable development of an affordable supersonic transporter, allowing travelers to fly from New York to London in an hour at Mach 2.

In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt designated August 19 as National Aviation Day in honor of Orville Wright’s birthday. This year, NASA encouraged the public to share how they celebrated National Aviation Day on social media using the hashtags #NationalAviationDay and #SpreadYourWings.

NASA Ames celebrated its 75th anniversary last year. Over the decades, many breakthroughs in aviation technology have been tested and developed using the center’s wind tunnels, Arc Jet Complex, and other facilities. Among the center’s contributions to aeronautics and America’s space program include the swept-back wing concept that is used on all high-speed aircraft today and the blunt body concept for spacecraft which increases drag, reduces shockwaves, and prevents the spacecraft from burning up as it enters a planet’s atmosphere. NASA Ames has also contributed to the development of the FAA’s NextGen air traffic management system and is currently developing traffic management systems for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), also known as drones.

Video Courtesy of NASA

 

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Jim Sharkey is a lab assistant, writer and general science enthusiast who grew up in Enid, Oklahoma, the hometown of Skylab and Shuttle astronaut Owen K. Garriott. As a young Star Trek fan he participated in the letter-writing campaign which resulted in the space shuttle prototype being named Enterprise.

While his academic studies have ranged from psychology and archaeology to biology, he has never lost his passion for space exploration. Jim began blogging about science, science fiction and futurism in 2004.

Jim resides in the San Francisco Bay area and has attended NASA Socials for the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover landing and the NASA LADEE lunar orbiter launch.

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