Representative Steve Knight (CA-25) and House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (TX-21) hosted a panel discussion with aerospace experts on Thursday.
The American Aeronautics Forum was hosted by the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee and held at the Mojave Air and Space Port in the Antelope Valley. In a discussion moderated by retired Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt, leaders from public and private sector flight experimentation programs discussed the state of American aeronautics research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) programs.
“Yesterday’s event forecasted the future of American aviation. My colleague, Rep. Knight, and I share a deep appreciation for our nation’s aviation history, and we are inspired by what we see on the horizon. It is important that we continue to work with stakeholders so that we remain the world’s leaders in flight," said Chairman Smith. "Yesterday’s panel, rooted in Rep. Knight’s home district, emphasized that the U.S. is in the midst of international races to field hypersonic piloted aircraft, to quiet the boom of supersonic planes, and push the frontiers of aviation. Rep. Knight and I appreciated our experts’ input and look forward to continuing to work together to ensure the U.S. remains the leader in aerospace.”
In addition to Chairman Smith and Rep. Knight, the panelists included Mr. David McBride, Director, Armstrong Flight Research Center, NASA; Mr. Craig Johnston, Director, Aeronautics Strategy and Business Development, Skunk Works, Lockheed Martin; and Maj. Gen. Curtis M. Bedke, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), Senior Non-resident fellow, Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.
The panel discussed the major transformations that have shaped flight experimentation since the first “X-Planes” program, the Bell X-1, made its historic sound barrier-breaking flight in 1947. Private businesses are taking the lead in many technology development efforts, but taking on high-risk, long-term research for which there is not yet a profit rationale remains one of NASA’s fundamental roles. Panel experts emphasized that the U.S. is in the midst of international races to field hypersonic piloted aircraft, to quiet the boom of supersonic planes, and to develop ultra-efficient commercial airliners that can reduce fuel usage upwards of 60%, and called for a renewal of the successful X-Plane programs.
“It was an honor to have Chairman Smith and these distinguished leaders in the flight science community all in the Antelope Valley to discuss the state of aerospace in our country,” said Rep. Knight. “The success of our aeronautics programs will have a tremendous impact on America’s economy and national security far into the future. Yesterday's discussion produced several important ideas, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to ensure they become realities.”