Adventures of a Senatorial Free Lance
THE first session of the 84th Congress was not one in which I took an active part on the floor. That year of 1955, nevertheless, recorded one positive achievement and was a period in which my ideas as to dealing with our foreign problems were becoming organized.
The achievement was the preservation of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and the expansion of its work and influence. This organization of scientists and engineers pioneered the advances in airplane theory, design, and practice. It was supported by Government appropriations and, to a lesser extent, by grants from private industry for research in particular fields. The results of its work were open to the services and to industry except in matters held by the Government as being classified.
It would seem incredible at the present moment that Congress looked on this essential research with a lack of imagination and no enthusiasm. Yet that was the general attitude at the time. Scientists were still supposed to be impractical, long-haired enthusiasts, not capable of spending money wisely. There was therefore real danger that our country might fall behind in the vital field of aeronautics. Our tendency was to think of the Russians as copyists; and to believe that we could out-design them and out-produce them in some offhand, absent-minded manner. This atti