Former NASA Langley engineer to join hall of fame

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Associated Press

Posted on October 6, 2012 at 3:00 PM

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

Richard T. Whitcomb's research helped make supersonic flight practical. He will be enshrined in the hall Saturday in Dayton.

In 1952, Whitcomb discovered drag can be reduced and speed increased for certain airplanes by designing their fuselage like a soda bottle.

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.

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