Langley Research Center

Langley Research Center (LaRC or NASA Langley) located in Hampton, Virginia, United States, is the oldest of NASA's field centers.[1] It directly borders Langley Air Force Base and the Back River on the Chesapeake Bay. LaRC has focused primarily on aeronautical research, but has also tested space hardware at the facility, such as the Apollo Lunar Module. In addition, a number of the earliest high-profile space missions were planned and designed on-site.

Established in 1917 by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the research center devotes two-thirds of its programs to aeronautics, and the rest to space. LaRC researchers use more than 40 wind tunnels to study and improve aircraft and spacecraft safety, performance, and efficiency. Between 1958 and 1963, when NASA (the successor agency to NACA) started Project Mercury, LaRC served as the main office of the Space Task Group.

In June 2015, after previously serving as associate director, then deputy director, Dr. David E. Bowles was appointed director of NASA Langley.[4]

NASA Langley Research Center
NASA logo
NASA Langley Research Center aerial view (2011)

Aerial view of NASA Langley in 2011
Agency overview
Preceding agency
  • Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory
JurisdictionUS Federal Government
HeadquartersHampton, Virginia, United States
Employees1,821 (2017)
Agency executives
  • Dr. David E. Bowles, Director
  • Clayton P. Turner, Deputy Director
  • Cathy H. Mangum, Associate Director
Parent agencyNASA
NASA Langley Research Center Map
Map of NASA Langley Research Center


Langley Research Center aircraft - EL-1996-00055.jpeg
A variety of research aircraft at NASA Langley in 1994

After US-German relations had deteriorated from neutral to hostile around 1916, the prospect of U.S. war entry became possible. On February 15, 1917, the newly established Aviation Week warned that the U.S. military aviation capability was less than what was operating in the European war.[5] President Woodrow Wilson sent Jerome Hunsaker to Europe to investigate, and Hunsaker's report prompted Wilson to command the creation of the nation's first aeronautics laboratory, which became NASA Langley.[6]

In 1917, less than three years after it was created, the NACA established Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory on Langley Field. Both Langley Field and the Langley Laboratory are named for aviation pioneer Samuel Pierpont Langley.[7] The Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps had established a base there earlier that same year. The first research facilities were in place and aeronautical research was started by 1920. Initially the laboratory included four researchers and 11 technicians.[8]

14x22 Subsonic Tunnel NASA Langley
LaRC's 14-foot (4 m) × 22-foot (7 m) subsonic wind tunnel

Langley Field and NACA began parallel growth as air power proved its utility during World War I. The center was originally established to explore the field of aerodynamic research involving airframe and propulsion engine design and performance. In 1934 the world's largest wind tunnel was constructed at Langley Field with a 30 × 60 foot test section; it was large enough to test full-scale aircraft.[9][10] It remained the world's largest wind tunnel until the 1940s, when a 40 × 80 foot tunnel was built at NASA Ames Research Center in California.[11]

Early in 1945, the center expanded to include rocket research, leading to the establishment of a flight station at Wallops Island, Virginia. A further expansion of the research program permitted Langley Research Center to orbit payloads, starting with NASA's Explorer 9 balloon satellite in mid-February 1961. As rocket research grew, aeronautics research continued to expand and played an important part when subsonic flight was advanced and supersonic and hypersonic flight were introduced.

Langley Research Center can claim many historic firsts, some of which have proven to be revolutionary scientific breakthroughs. These accomplishments include the development of the concept of research aircraft leading to supersonic flight, the world's first transonic wind tunnels, the Lunar Landing Facility providing the simulation of lunar gravity, and the Viking program for Mars exploration.[12] The center also developed standards for the grooving of aircraft runways based on a previous British design used at Washington National Airport.[13] Grooved runways reduce aquaplaning which permits better grip by aircraft tires in heavy rain. This grooving is now the international standard for all runways around the world.


Wind tunnel x-43
Full-scale model of the X-43 spaceplane in LaRC's 8-foot (2 m) high temperature wind tunnel.

Langley Research Center performs critical research on aeronautics, including wake vortex behavior, fixed-wing aircraft, rotary wing aircraft, aviation safety, human factors and aerospace engineering. LaRC supported the design and testing of the hypersonic X-43, which achieved a world speed record of Mach 9.6 (almost 7,000 miles per hour). LaRC assisted the NTSB in the investigation of the crash of American Airlines Flight 587.[14][15][14]

Work began in July 2011 to remove the 1940s era 16 feet (4.9 m) transonic wind tunnel. The facility supported development and propulsion integration research for many military aircraft including all fighters since 1960 (F-14, F-15, F-16, F-18 and the Joint Strike Fighter) but had been inactive since 2004.[16] Langley retained transonic wind tunnel testing capabilities facilities in the National Transonic Facility, a high pressure, cryogenically cooled 8.2 feet (2.5 m) closed loop wind tunnel.[17]

Fabrication research and development

NASA LRC Materials Research Lab
LRC materials research lab

Electron beam freeform fabrication (EBF³)

The EBF³ process produces structural metallic parts with immense strength, useful in performing repairs in remote locations. Additionally, the ability to build functionally graded, unitized parts directly from CAD data offers enhanced performance in numerous applications. Recently, LaRC has become home to this new type of machining process, which is used by their new room-sized electron-emitting device, which uses a High Frequency 42 kW, X-ray emitting electron gun (similar to Cathode Ray Tubes), which quickly melts either aluminum or titanium wire (positioned by dual independent wire feeders) into the desired 3-dimensional metallic parts with a material strength comparable to that of wrought products. The machine's deposition rate is 150 in³/h (690 mm³/s), equivalent to its plastic-fabricating counterpart. Metallic parts are also built directly from CAD without molds or tools, leaving the end product with absolutely no porosity. Other properties include:

  • 6-axis positioning
  • Heated or cooled platen
  • 1×10−6 torr vacuum capability (needed for the high power Electron beam gun)
  • 72 × 24 × 24 inch build envelope
  • Power efficiency in excess of 90%
  • Near 100% feedstock efficiency
  • Can deposit reflective materials not processable with lasers
  • Potential portable EBF³ system (Under Development)
  • Potential Fabrication & repair from the plants to the planets
  • Research assistance for developing large scale fabrication in space

Overall, Electron Beam Freeform Fabrication is a layer-additive technique that offers potential for improvements in cost, weight, and performance to enhance mission success for aircraft, launch vehicles, and spacecraft.

Plastic fabrication

LaRC also houses a large collection of various inexpensive plastic reformation machines. These machines are critical in the freeform fabrication department for faster timing, better precision, and larger quantities of low-cost toy, model, and industrial plastic parts. The fabrication of plastic parts is not all that dissimilar to the EBF³ process, except the melting apparatus is a thin, grated heating element, but other than that they are quite similar, e.g. they are both run completely by CAD data and deal with various freeform fabrication of raw materials. Plastic reformation machines have also come to the interest of graphical artist, opening a whole new world of bringing their masterpieces to life, all with a 'flick' of a switch, so to speak.



Nasa langley test gantry
Gantry used in lunar landing training as well as testing of land-based landings of the Orion spacecraft

Since the start of Project Gemini, Langley was a center for training of rendezvous in space. In 1965, Langley opened the Lunar Landing Research Facility for simulations of moon landings with a mock Apollo Lunar Module suspended from a gantry over a simulated lunar landscape. There was experimental work on some Lunar Landing Research Vehicles (LLRV).


Langley Research Center supported NASA's mission by designing a spacecraft for a Mars landing. (see the Mars Exploration Rover.)

Earth science

Langley Research Center conducts earth science research to support NASA's mission.


LRC scientists and engineers have won the Collier Trophy 5 times. In 1929 for the development of low-drag cowling for radial air-cooled aircraft engines, 1946 to Lewis A. Rodert, Lawrence D. Bell and Chuck Yeager for the development of an efficient wing deicing system, 1947 to John Stack of the then Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory for research to determine the physical laws affecting supersonic flight, also shared in this trophy for their work on supersonic flight, 1951 to John Stack for the development and use of the slotted-throat wind tunnel, 1954 Richard T. Whitcomb for the development of the Whitcomb area rule, according to the citation, a "powerful, simple, and useful method of reducing greatly the sharp increase in wing drag heretofore associated with transonic flight, and which constituted a major factor requiring great reserves of power to attain supersonic speeds."[18]

See also


  1. ^ a b Bob Allen (17 December 2015). "Dr. David E. Bowles, Director, NASA Langley Research Center". NASA Langley Research Center. Archived from the original on 1 January 2018. Retrieved 1 January 2018. NASA Langley, founded in 1917, is the Nation's first civilian aeronautical research facility and NASA's oldest field center.
  2. ^ "FY 2017 Agency Financial Report" (PDF). NASA. 15 November 2017. pp. 10, 24, 146. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 January 2018. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  3. ^ Bob Allen (28 August 2017). "NASA Langley Research Center Organizational Chart". NASA Langley Research Center. Archived from the original on 1 January 2018. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  4. ^ a b Bob Allen (17 December 2015). "Dr. David E. Bowles, Director, NASA Langley Research Center". NASA Langley Research Center. Archived from the original on 1 January 2018. Retrieved 1 January 2018. Dr. David E. Bowles is the director of NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia. He joined the Director’s Office in March 2012 as Associate Director, progressed to Deputy Director in 2014 and then served as Acting Center Director for four months before being appointed Center Director in June 2015.
  5. ^ Aviation & Aeronautical Engineering, February 15, 1917
  6. ^ Joe Anselmo (February 17, 2017). "Aviation Week's Warning and the Founding of NASA Langley". Aviation Week & Space Technology. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  7. ^ Tennant, Diane (September 5, 2011). "What's in a name? NASA Langley Research Center". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved September 5, 2011.
  8. ^ "Journey in Aeronautical Research: a Career at NASA-Langley Research Center, ch. 3". NASA.
  9. ^ "Faster, Safer Planes, Developed In Biggest Wind Tunnels" Popular Science, April 1934
  10. ^ "Full-Size Planes Tested In Big Air Tunnel" Popular Mechanics, April 1935, pp. 520–521
  11. ^ "40 X 80 and 80 X 120 Foot Wind Tunnels". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-02-14.
  12. ^ "NASA Langley History and Description: Initial Activities". NASA LaRC Master Plan.
  13. ^ McGuire, R.C. "REPORT ON GROOVED RUNWAY EXPERIENCE AT WASHINGTON NATIONAL AIRPORT". Internet Archive. Federal Aviation Administration. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  14. ^ a b "NASA – Hypersonic X-43A Takes Flight". Retrieved 2016-02-14.
  15. ^ "NASA Cultural Resources (CRGIS) – NasaCRgis". 2015-08-04. Retrieved 2016-02-14.
  16. ^ "Tearing down NASA Langley's 16-foot transonic wind tunnel". Daily Press. 2011-07-08. Retrieved 2016-02-14.
  17. ^ "National Transonic Facility". Archived from the original on October 17, 2011. Retrieved November 14, 2011.
  18. ^ "Exploring NASA's Roots – The History of the Langley Research Center | NASA". 1992-12-31. Retrieved 2016-02-14.

External links

Coordinates: 37°05′34″N 76°22′53″W / 37.09277°N 76.38133°W

Aerial Regional-scale Environmental Survey

The Aerial Regional-scale Environmental Survey (ARES) was a proposal by NASA's Langley Research Center to build a powered aircraft that would fly on Mars. The ARES team sought to be selected and funded as a NASA Mars Scout Mission for a 2011 or 2013 launch window. However, the MAVEN mission was chosen instead. ARES was chosen as one of four finalists in that program.ARES would have traveled to Mars compactly folded into a protective aeroshell; upon entry in the thin atmosphere, the capsule would have deployed a parachute to decelerate, followed by ARES release at altitude.

Among other things, the aircraft would have investigated the atmosphere and weak magnetic field.

Big Joe (Project Mercury)

Big Joe was a subprogram of America's Project Mercury space program. It launched a single flight using an Atlas launch vehicle with a boilerplate Mercury capsule. The purpose of the Big Joe program was to prove the ablative heat shield which would be needed for the re-entry of orbital Mercury missions. The flight, Big Joe 1, occurred on September 9, 1959.The Big Joe name has been attributed to Maxime Faget at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. It was a progression of the smaller test booster Little Joe. Faget also coined the Little Joe name basing it on its four large fins which reminded him a roll of four in craps.

Charles Camarda

Charles Joseph "Charlie" Camarda (born May 8, 1952 in Queens, New York) is an American engineer and a NASA astronaut who flew his first mission into space on board the Space Shuttle mission STS-114. He served as Senior Advisor for Engineering Development at NASA Langley Research Center.

Christine Darden

Dr. Christine Darden (born September 10, 1942, as Christine Mann) is an American mathematician, data analyst, and aeronautical engineer who devoted much of her 40-year career in aerodynamics at NASA to researching supersonic flight and sonic booms. She had an M.S. in mathematics and had been teaching at Virginia State University before starting to work at the Langley Research Center in 1967. She earned a PhD in engineering at George Washington University in 1983 and has published numerous articles in her field. She was the first African-American woman at NASA's Langley Research Center to be promoted into the Senior Executive Service, the top rank in the federal civil service.

Darden is one of the researchers featured in the book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race (2016), a history of some of the influential African-American women mathematicians and engineers at NASA in the mid-20th century, by Margot Lee Shetterly.

Controlled Impact Demonstration

The Controlled Impact Demonstration (or colloquially the Crash In the Desert) was a joint project between NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that intentionally crashed a remotely controlled Boeing 720 aircraft to acquire data and test new technologies that might help passengers and crew survive. The crash required more than four years of preparation by NASA Ames Research Center, Langley Research Center, Dryden Flight Research Center, the FAA, and General Electric. After numerous test runs, the plane was crashed on December 1, 1984. The test went generally according to plan, and produced a spectacular fireball that required more than an hour to extinguish.

The FAA concluded that about one-quarter of the passengers would have survived, that the antimisting kerosene test fuel did not sufficiently reduce the risk of fire, and that several changes to equipment in the passenger compartment of aircraft were needed. NASA concluded that a head-up display and microwave landing system would have helped the pilot more safely fly the aircraft.

Dorothy Vaughan

Dorothy Johnson Vaughan (September 20, 1910 – November 10, 2008) was an African American mathematician and human computer who worked for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), and NASA, at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. In 1949, she became acting supervisor of the West Area Computers, the first African-American woman to supervise a group of staff at the center.

She later was promoted officially to the position. During her 28-year career, Vaughan prepared for the introduction of machine computers in the early 1960s by teaching herself and her staff the programming language of FORTRAN; she later headed the programming section of the Analysis and Computation Division (ACD) at Langley.

Vaughan is one of the women featured in Margot Lee Shetterly's history Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race (2016). It was adapted as a biographical film of the same name, also released in 2016.


The Experimental Assembly of Structures in EVA and the Assembly Concept for Construction of Erectable Space Structures, or EASE/ACCESS, were a pair of space shuttle flight experiments that were performed on STS-61-B, on November 29 and December 1, 1985. The purpose of the experiments was to study how quickly astronauts would become proficient at assembling space structures during extravehicular activity, and how quickly they would become fatigued, and to explore various construction and maintenance techniques. In particular, researchers studied the applied moments of inertia arising in the manual assembly of a large space structure.EASE was a project of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and the Space Systems Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (later at the University of Maryland), while ACCESS was developed by NASA's Langley Research Center.

Edgar Cortright

Edgar Maurice Cortright (July 29, 1923 – May 4, 2014) was a scientist and engineer, and senior official at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the United States. His most prominent positions during his career were Director of NASA's Langley Research Center, and Chairman of the Apollo 13 Review Board which investigated the explosion that occurred during the Apollo 13 spaceflight in 1970.

Explorer 9

Explorer 9, known as S-56A before launch, was an American satellite which was launched in 1961 to study the density and composition of the upper thermosphere and lower exosphere. It was a reflight of the failed S-56 mission, and consisted of a 7-kilogram (15 lb), 3.7-meter (12 ft) balloon which was deployed into a medium Earth orbit. The mission was conducted by NASA's Langley Research Center.

Full-Scale Wind Tunnel

The Full-Scale Tunnel (abbreviated FST, also known as the 30-by 60-Foot Tunnel) was a wind tunnel at NASA's Langley Research Center. It was a National Historic Landmark.

In 1929, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics began construction of the world's first full-scale wind tunnel. The design team was led by Smith J. DeFrance. The tunnel was completed in 1931 (dedicated 27 May) at a cost just under $900,000. It was a double-return tunnel capable of moving air at speeds up to 118 miles/hour (190 km/h) through its circuit. It had a 30 ft by 60 ft (9.1 m x 18.3 m) open throat, which is capable of testing aircraft with spans of 40 ft (12.2 m).The wind tunnel is a double-return, atmospheric pressure tunnel with two fans powered by 4,000 hp electric motors.

The Vought O3U-1 biplane observation airplane was the first complete airplane tested in the tunnel. After that, it was used to test virtually every high-performance aircraft used by the United States in World War II. For much of the war, when it was operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the full-scale tunnel was the only tunnel in the free world large enough to perform these tests.

After the war, many types of aircraft were tested in the tunnel including the Harrier Jump Jet fighter, the F-16, the American supersonic transport, the Space Shuttle and Lunar Landing Test Vehicle. During the 1950s and 1960s, the tunnel was modified and upgraded several times. The principal improvement was adding the ability to test free-flying scale models in the test throat. The wind tunnel was in use through the 2000s, testing procedures such as free-flight and high angle of attack.It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1985. However, despite this designation and the efforts of some aviation historians, demolition of the tunnel began in 2010. It was documented before its demolition, with the fan blades being salvaged for display. In 2014 its landmark designation was withdrawn and it was removed from the National Register of Historic Places.

JB-3 Tiamat

The JB-3 Tiamat, also designated MX-570, was an early air-to-air missile developed by Hughes Aircraft for the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. Regarded as a purely experimental vehicle, test launches took place for several years before the program was terminated.

Kreider-Reisner XC-31

The Kreider-Reisner XC-31 or Fairchild XC-31 was an American single-engined monoplane transport aircraft of the 1930s designed and built by Kreider-Reisner. It was the largest single-engine aircraft built to that time, as well as one of the last fabric-covered aircraft tested by the U.S. Army Air Corps. Designed as an alternative to the emerging twin-engined transports of the time such as the Douglas DC-2, it was evaluated by the Air Corps at Wright Field, Ohio, under the test designation XC-941, but rejected in favor of all-metal twin-engined designs.

The XC-31 was built with an aluminum alloy framework covered by fabric, and featured strut-braced wing and a fully retractable landing gear, the main gear units mounted on small wing-like stubs and retracting inwards. An additional novel feature was the provision of main cargo doors that were parallel with the ground to facilitate loading.

Following evaluation by the USAAC, the XC-31 was transferred to NACA, which used it for icing studies at its Langley Research Center.

Lesa Roe

Lesa B. Roe is an American aerospace engineer who currently serves as the Chancellor of the University of North Texas System. Prior to becoming chancellor, Roe served as the Acting Deputy Administrator of NASA from January 20, 2017 to September 30, 2017, and was the Deputy Associate Administrator from May 1, 2014 to September 30, 2017. Roe has also served as the Director of NASA Langley Research Center from 2005 to 2014, the first woman to hold that position. She previously served as the center's Deputy Director from June 2004 until being named Director in October 2005. Roe in totality served 32 years at NASA, managed the employment of over 17,000 employees with a budget of 19.6 billion.She received her bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Florida, and her master's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Central Florida.Roe has received many awards, including the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and YWCA Women of Distinction in Space and Technology honor.

List of NASA aircraft

This is a list of NASA aircraft. Throughout its history NASA has used several different types of aircraft on a permanent, semi-permanent, or short-term basis. These aircraft are usually surplus, but in a few cases are newly built, military aircraft.

Mary Jackson (engineer)

Mary Winston Jackson (April 9, 1921 – February 11, 2005) was an African American mathematician and aerospace engineer at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which in 1958 was succeeded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). She worked at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, for most of her career. She started as a computer at the segregated West Area Computing division. She took advanced engineering classes and, in 1958, became NASA's first black female engineer.

After 34 years at NASA, Jackson had earned the most senior engineering title available. She realized she could not earn further promotions without becoming a supervisor. She accepted a demotion to become a manager of both the Federal Women’s Program, in the NASA Office of Equal Opportunity Programs, and of the Affirmative Action Program. In this role, she worked to influence both the hiring and promotion of women in NASA's science, engineering, and mathematics careers.

Jackson's story features in the 2016 non-fiction book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race. She is one of the three protagonists in Hidden Figures, the film adaptation released the same year.

National Register of Historic Places listings in Hampton, Virginia

This is a list of the National Register of Historic Places listings in Hampton, Virginia.

This is intended to be a complete list of the properties and districts on the National Register of Historic Places in the independent city of Hampton, Virginia, United States. The locations of National Register properties and districts for which the latitude and longitude coordinates are included below, may be seen in an online map.There are 30 properties and districts listed on the National Register in the city, including 5 National Historic Landmarks. Another 2 properties were once listed but have been removed.

This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted April 12, 2019.

Rendezvous Docking Simulator

The Rendezvous Docking Simulator, also known as the Real-Time Dynamic Simulator, is a simulator at the Langley Research Center. It was constructed for the Gemini program in Building 1244 and it became operational in June 1963 at a cost of $320,000 and later reconfigured for the Apollo program. The simulator consists of a gantry frame, with an overhead carriage from which test craft were suspended by cables. A gimbal was powered hydraulically and was capable of changing pitch and yaw at a rate of 1 radian per second or roll at 2 radians per second. The gantry also moved like an overhead crane using electric motors and was capable of travelling 210 feet (64 m) longitudinally at up to 20 feet per second (6.1 m/s), 16 feet (4.9 m) laterally at up to 4 feet per second (1.2 m/s) and vertically 45 feet (14 m) at up to 10 feet per second (3.0 m/s).It is the only surviving simulator from the NASA Gemini and Apollo space programs that was used by astronauts to practice docking of space capsules with other vessels. Ability to dock reliably with the lunar landing module was a crucial skill essential for the mission to return from the moon. The docking simulator was used alongside the Projection Planetarium in training exercises.

It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1985.Currently it is stored, hanging from the rafters in Building 1244, a vast hangar at Langley, and there are no plans for it otherwise.

Space Task Group

The Space Task Group was a working group of NASA engineers created in 1958, tasked with managing America's manned spaceflight programs. Headed by Robert Gilruth and based at the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, it managed Project Mercury and follow-on plans. After President John F. Kennedy set the goal in 1961 for the Apollo Program to land men on the Moon, NASA decided a much larger organization and a new facility was required to perform the Task Group's function, and it was transformed into the Manned Spacecraft Center (now the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center), located in Houston, Texas.

In later years, the term Space Task Group was ambiguously reused to refer to an ad hoc committee appointed by the President to recommend manned spaceflight programs, usually chaired by the Vice President. For instance, President Richard Nixon appointed such a group in February 1969 to outline a post-Apollo spaceflight strategy, chaired by Vice President Spiro T. Agnew.

Variable Density Tunnel

The Variable Density Tunnel (VDT) was the second wind tunnel at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) Langley Research Center. Proposed by German aerospace engineer, Max Munk in May, 1921, it was the world's first variable density wind tunnel and allowed for more accurate testing of small-scale models than could be obtained with atmospheric wind tunnels. It was actively used as a wind tunnel from 1923 until its retirement in the 1940s. Langley Research Center historian, James R. Hansen, wrote that the VDT provided results superior to the atmospheric wind tunnels used at the time and was responsible for making NACA, the precursor to NASA, "a world leader in aerodynamic research". It is now on display on the Langley grounds, near the old Reid Conference Center and is a National Historic Landmark.

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