General Henry “Hap” Arnold, Commander of the US Army Air Forces during World War II, addresses the staff at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory on November 9, 1944. Arnold told the employees assembled in the hangar, “You’ve got a dual task. You’ve got a job ahead of you to keep the army and the navy air forces equipped with the finest equipment that you can for this war. You also have the job of looking forward into the future and starting now those developments, those experiments, that are going to keep us in our present situation—ahead of the world in the air. And that is quite a large order, and I leave it right in your laps.”
Arnold served on the NACA’s Executive Committee in Washington from 1938 to 1944 and had been a strong advocate for the creation of the new engine research facility in Cleveland. Arnold believed in continual research and development. He pressed the nation’s aviation leaders to pursue the new jet engine technology, while simultaneously pushing to increase the performance of the nation’s largest piston engine for the B–29 Superfortress program.
The general’s hectic wartime agenda limited his visit to the Cleveland laboratory to just a few hours, but he toured several of the NACA’s new test facilities including the Static Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Icing Research Tunnel, and a B–24 Liberator in the hangar.