The Forty-Ninth Wilbur Wright Memorial Lecture, “Researches in Space Flight Technology,” was given by Dr. Abe Silverstein, B.S., F.R.Ae.S., F.I.A.S., Director of Space Flight Programs, N.A.S.A., before a large and distinguished audience in the Lecture Theatre, 4 Hamilton Place, on 12th September 1961. Air Marshal Sir Owen Jones, K.B.E., C.B., A.F.C, B.A., D.I.C., F.R.Ae.S., M.I.Mech.E., R.A.F.(retd.), President of the Society, presided. The Lecture was given during the Eighth Anglo-American Aeronautical Conference, and the President was accompanied on the platform by Dr. H. Guyford Stever, President of the Institute of the Aerospace Sciences, and Head of the Mechanical Engineering Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Air Commodore W. P. Gouin, R.C.A.F., a member of the Directing Staff of the National Defence College, Canada, and President of the Canadian Aeronautical Institute.
As has become the custom, before the Lecture was delivered, the President presented the awards made by the Council for 1961 for outstanding contributions to aeronautics. The list of awards presented on this occasion was published in the June 1961 Journal (p. XXVII).
Introducing the Lecturer, the President reminded the audience that the first Wilbur Wright Memorial Lecture was given in 1913 by Horace Darwin. The list of Lecturers, as they would see in their programmes, contained the names of eminent scientists and engineers from America and from this country. They had with them on this occasion a number of those who had given the lecture, among them their very distinguished visitor, Dr. von Kármán.
This lecture had been given alternately by a lecturer from this country and one from the United States, with one exception. On one occasion it had been given by the late Professor Ludwig Prandtl—a name well-known to them all.
Now Dr. Abe Silverstein was to give the 49th Wilbur Wright Memorial Lecture and had chosen as his subject “Researches in Space Flight Technology.” Dr. Silverstein was Director of Space Flight Programs at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration headquarters in Washington. Before the N.A.S.A. was established on 1st October 1958, Dr. Silverstein had been Associate Director of the Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory, Cleveland, a research centre of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, which formed a nucleus of the N.A.S.A. Dr. Silverstein joined the N.A.C.A. in 1929 and spent much time at the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory on wind tunnel design and high speed research until he was transferred to the Lewis Laboratory in 1943 to direct research at the Altitude Wind Tunnel. He had done pioneering work on large scale ram-jet engines and on the supersonic wind tunnels at Lewis.