Reid, Amelia

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Biographical History

Amelia Reid, formerly Amelia Lola, was born on November 13, 1924 in Ord, Nebraska. Reid obtained her bachelor's degree in mathematics from Kearney State College in Nebraska. Reid went on her first flight in 1939 in a Taylor J-2 Cub with Evelyn Sharp, Nebraska's first female pilot, which sparked a lifelong interest in aviation. Amelia Lola took on the name Carman from her first husband.

In 1945 Reid worked for the National Bureau of Standards in Washington D.C. In the late 1940s Reid moved to California and obtained a position at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) at Ames Aeronautical Laboratory. Reid worked as an Electronic Machine Computer, or human computer in the Electronic Machine Computing Branch under the Theoretical and Applied Research Division. Reid concurrently earned her master's degree in mathematics from San José State University while employed with the NACA. As a human computer, Reid applied her knowledge of mathematics to transcribe raw data. She analyzed and reduced data into standard engineering values.

During the 1950s Amelia Lola Carman met her second husband and became Amelia Reid. Her father-in-law and four other pilots, including Reid's husband, opened up Reid Hillview Airport. In 1959 her son, Robin, was born. In the same year Reid left the NACA and opened up a flight school at Reid Hillview Airport. She initially operated the flight school out of her Ford automobile, then later out of two trailers. Eventually Reid re-mortgaged her home in order to build a hangar where she ran her flight school until the end of her life.

In Reid's lifetime she was a mathematician, pilot, flight instructor, flight advocate, and aerobatics performer. Reid was also an accomplished ballroom dancer and a concert violinist. She logged over 55,000 flight hours and instructed over 4,000 students. Amelia Reid held two FAA certificates, a Commercial Pilot Certificate and an Air Transport Pilot Certificate. She was also rated for flight and ground instructing, gliders, single and multi-engine land and sea aircraft, and on a Cessna Citation CE-500 business jet. Amelia Reid passed away on March 3, 2001.

Administrative History

In 1939 the Ames Aeronautical Laboratory was established as a second laboratory for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). Throughout the life of the organization, the NACA used human computers to convert its raw flight research data into analyzable forms. Proficient in mathematics, these individuals analyzed and transcribed data accumulated in research tests, and performed complex calculations in order to transform it into manageable units. For example, they might transcribe and reduce an oscillograph recording from a flight test into standard engineering values. Human computers used basic tools such as slide rulers and electronic calculators to complete these calculations.

With the onset of World War II, when men joined the armed services in droves leaving shortages in workplaces across the country, women were able to step up into these human computer positions generally occupied by men. At Ames, these women human computers were fondly and proudly called the "computer girls." In the late 1940's Amelia Reid joined the human computer team at Ames. In 1952 the Director of Ames Aeronautical Laboratory, Smith DeFrance, formed an electronic computing machine unit to be led by William Mersman. Amelia Reid worked under Mersman in the Electronic Machine Computing Branch of the Theoretical and Applied Research Division as an Electronic Machine Computer.

From the guide to the Amelia Reid National Advisory for Aeronautics (NACA) Human Computer Papers, 1945-1958, (Ames Research Center, )

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Amelia Reid National Advisory for Aeronautics (NACA) Human Computer Papers, 1945-1958 Ames Research Center,Ames History Office
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Ames Aeronautical Laboratory (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith International Business Machines Corporation corporateBody
associatedWith Lola Carman, Amelia person
associatedWith United States. National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Moffett Field (Calif.)
Datamation professional series


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