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Pete M

Head of NASA Manned Programs also built foiling sailboats.

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Head of NASA Manned Programs for Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs also built foiling multihull sailboats.

 

Article in Smithsonian's March 2016 Air and Space magazine has a piece about a guy named Robert Gilruth, Head of NASA's Manned Space Programs from the mid '50s for the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. Apparently a quiet, well respected manager, who let his people get on with it. Gilruth started in the late 1930's at NACA in Virginia as an aeronautical research engineer. He went on to be head of the NASA manned space programs from the beginning and retired after the last Apollo program in the early 70's.

 

Gilruth, and his wife, and engineer and pilot, built various forms of foiling multihulls in Virginia, and then once in Houston built a 52 foot foiling multihull. They started the 52 footer in 1962, and it was fully finished by 1972. Quite a homebuilt project for a guy that had a bit on at work those days.

 

After retirement he sailed it from Houston back to Virginia and spent the rest of his days cruising it around.

 

Wiki says his boats were the first foiling sailboats that actually worked. I don't know about that. The 52 footer was called outrigger

 

I looked for an image, but can't seem to find one - anyone know any more?

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Pictures would be great-especially foiling. I've never heard of the guy or his boats-thanks for posting the story.

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Gilruth is mentioned in this article: http://www.ingenia.org.uk/Ingenia/Articles/870

 

"But it wasn’t until 1938 that a sailing boat got up onto foils with Americans Robert Rowe Gilruth and Carl William Price, who managed to achieve the same feat, albeit more slowly, under sail."

 

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From www.foils.org/popmags.htm--a book by William P.Carl:

 

"This story begins in 1938, in Bob Gilruth's bathroom... he started with 6-inch models...from the model tests, a full scale, 12-foot sailing catamaran with hydrofoils, CATAFOIL I was built and operated in the Chesapeake for several years."

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Like all the senior people at NASA in those days, Gilruth was an extraordinary person.

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From boatdesign.net:

 

Found a bit more on Gilruth's foiler design in this AYRS paper:

R. Gilruth and Bill Cart, also of the US and of the NACA started experimenting
with foils in 1938. They successfully flew a catamaran hydrofoil
sailing craft which took off at 5 knots and cruised at 12 knots. The main
foil had an aspect ratio of 11 : I, a 12 ft span, a I ft chord and the remarkable
L/D ratio of 25 : I. The foil section was one of big camber for high lift at low speed, like NACA 65-506.
(Bold by DL)

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