In this 1940 historical photo from the U.S. space agency, Dr. Theodore von Karman (black coat) sketches out a plan on the wing of an airplane as his JATO engineering team looks on. From left to right: Dr. Clark B. Millikan, Dr. Martin Summerfield, Dr. Theodore von Karman, Dr. Frank J. Malina and pilot, Capt. Homer Boushey.
Captain Boushey would become the first American to pilot an airplane that used JATO (Jet Assisted Take-Off) solid propellent rockets.
The National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA) was a precursor to NASA. NACA was created by Congress in 1915.
Each weekday, SPACE.com looks back at the history of spaceflight through photos (archive).