American Aviation Historical Society

Theodore von Karman, center, is fashionably attired in suit and Panama hat as he scribbles last-minute calculations on the Ercoupe’s wing prior to a jet-assisted takeoff (JATO) flight test at March Field, Calif., in August 1941. More than a decade earlier, he similarly scribbled equations on the side of a streetcar. Then, the result of his impromptu figuring was his monumental law of turbulence. This time, the effect was to jumpstart the U.S. missile and space programs. Looking on, from the left, are team members Clark Millikan, California Institute of Technology professor and son of Caltech’s leader, Martin Summerfield, a close von Karman associate and former graduate student, Frank Malina, another close von Karman associate who as a graduate student pushed for rocket-related experiments, and Army Air Corps Capt. Homer Boushey, the JATO project’s test pilot who had studied under von Karman. Note the Wright Field arrowhead sewn into Boushey’s leather jacket. Also, note that as von Karman scrawls with his right hand, his left hand holds a cigar. (NASA photo)


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