NASA engineer selected for Aviation Hall of Fame

NASA engineer selected for Aviation Hall of Fame

Credit: NASA Langley

Richard T. Whitcomb

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Associated Press

Posted on December 19, 2011 at 5:06 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 22 at 2:08 PM

HAMPTON, Va. (AP) — A former aeronautics engineer at NASA's Langley Research Center will be inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Ohio.

Richard T. Whitcomb's research helped make supersonic flight practical.

In 1952, Whitcomb discovered that if certain airplanes had their fuselage designed like a soda bottle, they would have reduced drag and their speed could be increased without additional power.

In the 1970s, Whitcomb also came up with winglets for the tips of airplane wings that reduce drag. Many airliners and private jets now use the wingtips that are angled upward to improve fuel performance.

Whitcomb worked at the Hampton, Va., facility from 1943 to 1980. He died in 2009 when he was 88.

A formal enshrinement ceremony will be held in Dayton, Ohio next fall.

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