This Federal Laboratory has played a pivotal role in creating our modern air traffic control system. Established as the National Aviation Facilities Experimental Center in 1958, the Technical Center’s research and engineering achievements, and its direct support to airports and FAA air traffic control facilities have led to the highest level of safety in air transportation.
Air and Space Transportation
Known as the birthplace of Naval Aviation, North Island was the site of the first successful seaplane flight and the first amphibious flight in the U.S., both made by Glenn Curtiss. The first Naval pilot, Lt. T.G. Ellyson, was trained here at the Curtiss Aviation Camp. A flight school established here by Ellyson trained the next Naval aviators as well as the Navy’s first aviation maintenance personnel. North Island was also the site of the first night flight, and the home of the first aircraft carrier, the USS Langley.
This site, formerly known as Oakland Municipal Airport, served as the gateway to the Pacific during aviation’s pioneering age of trans-Pacific flight. Among other notable events, Albert Hegenberger and Lester Maitland departed from the airfield on 28 June 1927 on the first flight from the mainland to Hawaii, and Amelia Earhart landed here on 13 January 1935, completing the first-ever solo flight from Hawaii to the mainland.
Lunken Field, now also known as Cincinnati Municipal Lunken Airport, opened in 1925 on ground purchased from the Cincinnati Polo Club. The nation’s largest municipal airport at the time, it attracted several aerospace enterprises, starting with early aviator J. Richard “Dixie” Davis, who established his barnstorming enterprise there in 1925. In 1928, several other firms established enterprises at the field – each making history.
The 1940 Air Terminal is a beautiful and rare example of classic art deco airport architecture from the golden age of flight. Designed by noted architect Joseph Finger, the Terminal was built to meet Houston’s growing role as a major center for air commerce in the 1930s. Its grand opening by the City of Houston took place on September 28, 1940, at Houston Municipal Airport, now known as Hobby Airport.
In May 1927, the same month of Charles A. Lindbergh's famous transatlantic flight from New York to Paris, a fact-finding commission appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce concluded that Newark would be the ideal location for an airfield to serve the greater New York/New Jersey metropolitan area.
Civic leaders wasted no time; construction began on the Newark Airport in January 1928. Nine months and $1,750,000 later, 68 acres of soggy marshland had been filled and converted to an airport.
The largest rocket built at the time of the historic first missions to the moon, the Saturn V carried aloft the 45-ton Apollo spacecraft on earth orbital and lunar missions from 1967 to 1972. It also launched the 120-ton Skylab into earth orbit on May 14, 1973.
Wind tunnel testing of aircraft models is essential to determine aerodynamic parameters such as lift and drag. The 5-foot Wright Field wind tunnel is an early example of the modern wind tunnel, well known from the early 1920s to the late 1950s for its contributions to research and the development of nearly every major aircraft and associated hardware used by the US Air Force and its predecessor, the Army Air Service.
The 1905 Wright Flyer III, built by Wilbur (1867-1912) and Orville (1871-1948) Wright, was the world's first airplane capable of sustained, maneuverable flight. Similar in design to their celebrated first airplane, this machine featured a stronger structure, a larger engine turning new "bent-end" propellers, and greater control-surface area for improved safety and maneuverability.