Have you ever wondered about the beginning of one of the most important aeronautical research institution? NACA, stands for: “National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics”, it’s an agency founded on March 3, 1915 in the United States to prioritize aeronautics during World War I.

The NACA seal was
approved by President
Dwight D. Eisenhower in
1953. Source: Nasa

As we may know Wilbur and Orville Wright have studied aviation in a wind tunnel, and more research related to flight. However, “Langley” a location in USA were the place that gathered many secret researches, Langley was known as an agency and government institution, it was considered to be a relevant place. Langley had studied aviation of bird and established the Langley Aerodrome, unsuccessful manned, tandem wing-configuration powered flying machine.

Photograph of first attempt to fly the manned Langley Aerodrome, October 7, 1903. Source:

An advisory committee created by 14 members: two of each from the War and Navy Departments; one each from the Weather Bureau, the Bureau of Standards, and the Smithsonian Institution. All of them familiarized with aeronautical science or related.

The purpose of the committee was “to supervise and direct the scientific study of the problems of flight with a view to their practical solution, and to determine the problems which should be experimentally attacked and to discuss their solution and their application to practical questions.”

The act of Congress creating NACA.
NACA mission statement. Source:

Langley research center was the official site and NACA’s oldest field centers, the research center devotes two-thirds of its programs to aeronautics and the rest to space.

The outstanding researches goes from airfoils to high speed tests. The facilities:

  • Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory (Hampton, Virginia), Now NASA
  • Ames Aeronautical Laboratory (Moffett Field)
  • Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory (Lewis Research Center)
  • Muroc Flight Test Unit (Edwards Air Force Base)
Langley Research Center in Virginia, United States. Source: NASA

NACA developed the famous NACA Airfoils or NACA system, widely used in airplanes and helicopters such as Cessna`s planes and Bell helicopters, among others. Another relevant contribution is related to the area rule, the ideal cross-section area of objects to reach the speed of sound.

NACA Airfoils. the NACA developed a series of thoroughly tested airfoils and devised a numerical designation for each airfoil. Source: NASA

NACA and all its personnel was transferred to NASA, when the last was funded. Therefore, NASA inherited all the knowledge gained in NACA. LaRC or NASA Langley researchers use more than 40 wind tunnels with the purpose for improving aircraft and spacecraft technology.

NASA Langley Research Center (NASA-LaRC) Aircraft in Front of Hangar, Building 1244. Source: NASA


Cover Photo:

The fleet of NACA test aircraft are assembled in front of the hangar at the High Speed Flight Station, (later renamed the Dryden Flight Research Center) in Edwards, California.

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comments user

Okay, this is fantastic. That pic of the airfoils is crazy town. I’m working on my flight instructor certificate and find your article very helpful for context. I was not aware of how this NACA bit all fit together.

    comments user
    Edgar Ramos

    Many thanks, we are glad that you liked the article, and that is useful… And yes, NACA airfoils are in many airplanes as you noticed… Best regards,

Comments are closed.

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