Ira H. Abbott

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Ira Abbott
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[top] Background

Ira Herbert Abbott (July 18, 1906 – November 3, 1988), a graduate of MIT, came to Langley Aeronautical Laboratory in 1929. He wrote many technical reports on aerodynamics and was instrumental in setting up programs in high-speed research, rising to the position of assistant chief of research at Langley in 1945. Transferring to NACA Headquarters in 1948 as assistant director of research (aerodynamics), he was promoted to the post of director, advanced research programs in NASA in 1959 and to that of director, advanced research and technology in 1961. As such, he supervised the X-15, the supersonic transport, the nuclear rocket, and the advanced reentry programs. He retired in 1962.

24-Inch High Speed Tunnel
High Speed Tunnel
Ira Abbott and Eastman Jacobs were responsible for the design of an “icing tunnel” which had the same dimensions and layout as a desirable low-turbulence tunnel. Using this ploy to obtain funding, a pilot tunnel of the low-turbulence tunnel was built as the Langley Ice Tunnel with the stated purpose of investigating ice formation on aircraft components. This structure was quickly modified to become the Two-Dimensional Low Turbulence Tunnel.

Construction was authorized in 1933 for the 24-Inch High Speed Tunnel (585). It was built using funds from the Federal Public Works Administration (PWA) with an initial cost was $12,600. Eastman Jacobs, John Stack, Ira Abbott, W.F. Lindsey and Kenneth Ward participated in the design of this new tunnel which could investigate airfoils and fuselages at twice the Reynolds numbers of the 11-inch HST.

Since high school days, Ira was known as 'S' (sometimes referred to as Ess in the letters below).

[top] Obituary

Ira Abbott Obituary
November 1988 Researcher Obituary

[top] Interviews

Abbott, Ira H. August, 1960

Abbott, Ira H. October 28, 1971

[top] Photos

[top] Publications

Summary of Airfoil Data. Ira H. Abbott, Albert E. von Doenhoff, and Louis S. Stivers, Jr. 1945. Report No. 824.

A Review and Commentary of A Thesis by Arthur L. Levine Entitled United States Aeronautical Research Policy 1915-1958: A Study of the Major Policy Decisions of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics Dated 1963. Ira H. Abbott. April 1964. unpublished.

[top] Associated Buildings

Ice Tunnel/Two-Dimensional Low Turbulence Tunnel

24-Inch High Speed Tunnel

[top] Archival Collection

This list represents scans from the personal collection of Ira H. Abbott now in possession of his son, Ira H.A. Abbott. Scanned May 2015.

1925 High School Yearbook

AIAA 50th Anniversary. Abbott's file in preparation for the 550th anniversary celebration of the AIAA.

Airfoils: Significance and Early Development. Ira H. Abbott. 1980. AIAA paper 80-3033.

Application for Federal Employment (SF57). Abbott's application, apparently when NACA transitioned to NASA

Arnold Engineering Development Center. Visitor's packet from 12-13 Dec 1956.

American Aviation Dilly. Published to add to the gaiety of the Wright Day Dinner, December 17, 1955.

Ballistics Meeting. Comments by Ira Abbott at a Ballistics Meeting 25 April 1958. Comments address the movement of aeronautics to space exploration.

Biography. Biographical sketch from 1960.

Brief for the Boeing Company and McDonnell Douglas Corporation. US Court of Appeals #74-1017 for patent infringement. Abbott served as expert witness.

Commemorative Covers

Douglas Aircraft Company Visit Conference Remarks. Remarks of Ira Abbott at the Douglas Conference on the D-558 Airplane. 10 Nov 1947.

General Aviation Technologyfest, 1975. Program

General Aviation Technologyfest, 1978. Talk by Ira Abbott.

Get well card. 1962 card signed by co-workers.

Headquarters Party. Photos by George Bates include several with Mr. & Mrs. Ira Abbott.

Honorary Service Awards. News release for the first NASA Honorary Service Emblems. 1960.

Honorary Service Awards Program. 1960. Washington, DC.

House Warming: High-Speed Flight Station. 26 June 1954. Edwards, CA.

Kansans..Talk Kansas!. 1975, Wichita, Kansas. Talk by Larry Montgomery to the Kansas Press Association Annual Conference.

Letter: Abbott to Cortright. Nov 1974 letter regarding article in Astronautics and Aeronautics and response.

Letter: Abbott to Science Magazine. Letter from Abbott to the Editor of Science magazine regarding an article on the National Science Board, May 1967.

Letter: Baals to Abbott. April 1974 letter from Don Baals to Ira Abbott regarding the retirement of Mark Nichols, Chief of the High-Speed Aircraft Division, LaRC. Abbott's response to Baals and the letter to Nichols from Abbott in response to request. Write-up on Mark Nichols by Ira Abbott, presumably for the retirement party.

Letter: Christmas 1959. Letter from Keith Glennan wishing Abbott and Merry Christmas.

Letter: Christmas 1960. Letter from co-worker, Keith Glennan, wishing Abbott and staff a Merry Christmas prior to returning to Cleveland.

Letter: Christmas 1986. Christmas letter from Helen Morehouse (former receptionist) with update on husband Silas.

Letter: Glennan to Abbott. Thank you for participation in the Omaha show dated 29 Sep 1960.

Letter: Happy New Year. Letter from Hugh Dryden and Jimmy Doolittle to the members of the NACA staff wishing them a happy New Year. 27 Dec 1956.

Letter: Hopkins to Abbott. Philip Hopkins of Smithsonian Institution on receipt of oil portrait of Dr. Joseph Ames.

Letter: Lehman to Abbott. Note and photos from Evelyn Lehman to Abbott and his response.

Letter: Nichols to Abbott. J.B. Nichols of Hiller Aircraft regarding remarks on research at Princeton.

Letter: Wild to Abbott. Letter from J.M. Wild, General Dynamics Director of Engineering Technologies, to Abbott regarding comment in 1967 issue of Science.

Letters on Change from NACA to NASA

Letter: Norton to Doolittle. Letter from Assistance Secretary of the Navy for Air Washington to Jimmy Doolittle and response from Doolittle to Norton.

Letter: Weeks to Doolittle. Letter from Secretary of Commerce Sinclair Weeks to Jimmy Doolittle on change from NACA to NASA and response from Doolittle to Weeks.

Letter: White to Doolittle. Letter from USAF Chief of Staff, General Thomas White to Jimmy Doolittle on change from NACA to NASA and response from Doolittle to White regarding the personnel of NACA.

MIT Transcripts. Entrance exams and transcripts from MIT.

NACA Reunion Letter. June 1976 letter regarding the upcoming reunion.

NACA Reunion. 1976 reunion held in Ashville, NC.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Jimmy Doolittle statement to U.S. Senate on 6 May 1958 in support of bill creating NASA.

Personnel Action and Promotions

Named Deputy Research Head. Daily Press, 6 Feb 1950. Newspaper article on appointment to NACA Headquarters. Gives nice summary of achievements at LaRC.

Notification of Personnel Action. SF50 position title change 1 Nov 1961.

Notification of Personnel Action. SF50 promotion 30 Jun 1959.

Notification of Personnel Action. SF50 title change 26 Feb 1959.

Notification of Personnel Action. SF50 title change 30 Sep 1958.

Notification of Personnel Action. SF50 raise 8 Aug 1958.

Notification of Personnel Action. SF50 raise 21 Nov 1956.

Notification of Personnel Action. SF50 raise 9 Apr 1956.

Notification of Personnel Action. SF50 raise 25 Oct 1955.

Notification of Personnel Action. SF50 raise 6 Sep 1951.

Notification of Personnel Action. SF50 promotion 1 Mar 1950.

Notification of Personnel Action. SF50 promotion 16 Jan 1950.

Notification of Personnel Action. SF50 raise 3 Nov 1949.

Notification of Personnel Action. SF50 promotion 6 Feb 1948.

Notification of Personnel Action. SF50 raise 34 Dec 1947.

Personnel Security Questionnaire. Abbott completed in November 1954.

Retirement Letters

Ira Jr., Ira Abbott and Wife, Bev (Ira Jr.'s wife) at 1962 retirement dinner
Abbott retirement dinner
1962 retirement dinner

Bikle, Paul

Bonney, Walter

Cochran, Jacqueline

DeFrance, Smith

DeFrance, Smith (handwritten)

Donaldson, Coleman

Goland, Martin

Greene, Larry

Halaby, N.E.


Holmes, D. Brainerd

Hood, Manley

Lederer, Jerome

Mangainella, Gene

Nichinson, David

Robinson, Russell

Spinney, Franklin

Rockefeller Public Service Awards. Request from R.W. van de Velde, Princeton University, for support in nomination of John Becker for award in 1962. Includes response from Abbott and announcement booklet.

Roster of Scientists and Engineers in the Federal Service. Paperwork completed by Ira Abbott for inclusion in the rooster, dated 1958 - 1960.

Wright Brothers' Aeroplane of 1903. Smithsonian Institution ceremony program on presentation of the aeroplane by the estate of Orville Wright. 17 Dec 1948. Arts and Industries Building.

Wright Brothers Lecture. 17 Dec 1953 Program with lecture by Glenn L. Martin.

Wright Brothers Lecture. 17 Dec 1955 Program with lecture by R. L. Bisplinghoff.

Wright Memorial Dinner. 17 Dec 1955 dinner program by the Aero Club of Washington.

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