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Posted: 1243043469000
Classification: Biography
Surnames: Yancey
Roxanah B. Yancey
NASA Photo Roxanah B. Yancey

[Dryden Flight Research Center - US Airforce]

Roxanah B. Yancey was head of the NACA Muroc Unit "computers."

Women were hired by the NACA and by most military branches as human "computers" to reduce raw data into something engineers could read.

From the inception of the Muroc Unit in 1946 until 1960, Yancey led the computers and was one of the first two women who worked at what would later become Dryden. As was the practice of the day, Yancey and other "computers" were selected for earning a mathematics degree.

She accepted a position as an aerospace engineer in 1960, which she retained until her retirement in 1973. During her tenure, she was a supervisory mathematician and branch head of the Computing Service and an engineer in the Manned Flight Control branch.

Yancey was known for her knowledge in data reduction work on the Air Force XS-1 flight nine, Oct. 14, 1947, which was the first supersonic flight. Identifying traces on film, marking time to coordinate all data recordings and reading film deflections before converting them into engineering units for the legendary flight were key responsibilities, ones her nominators said she was well prepared to do.

She was considered by her nominators to be an excellent teacher as well as a mathematician. It was her responsibility to teach new members of the computer group - in the 1950s referred to as "mathematic aids," who did not have math degrees - to reduce and evaluate the flight records from research aircraft.

In the 1960s, when Yancey accepted a new job title as aerospace engineer, her new responsibilities included determining stability and control derivative characteristics for all three X-15 airplanes. The derivatives were used in flight planning for the X-15 simulator. Later, Yancey studied the characteristics of the aircraft at speeds exceeding Mach 6.

She died in April 1974.

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