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Who’s Here Now?

“Let’s try the damn thing and see if we can make it work.”

(July 9, 1946) John Stack, head of Compressibility Research Division, was a hard charging, persuasive man whose attitude toward unproven technology was usually, "Let’s try the damn thing and see if we can make it work.

Stack had first conceived a high-speed research airplane in 1933, but his paper design had been merely an object for theoretical performance evaluation. He had wanted to explore how fast an imaginary airplane with all known favorable features could go when due allowance was made for the adverse effects of compressibility on drag and propeller performance.

With the coming of the compressibility crisis by 1940 and the growing recognition that there was some barrier preventing the acquisition of useful transonic data in existing wind tunnels, Stack began to campaign privately for NACA and military support for an actual airplane for high-speed research. By 1944, however, there were engineers, like Ezra Kotcher at Wright Field, and even some of Stack’s colleagues at Langley, who had competing ideas for the requirements of a high-speed research aircraft. Though many of the particulars of Stack’s research airplane concept would provide a solid foundation for the design of what became the Bell XS-1, the first plane to fly supersonically, some of its particulars would not be accepted and others would undergo major compromise.

Want to know more about this aggressive mastermind? For more information about John Stack, visit:…

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