Suggested Searches

3 min read

The History of NASA Langley: Historic Facilities

As a result of NASA Langley’s more than 100 years of major contributions to aerospace research, testing and development, the NASA Langley Research Center Historic District was listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register in December 2011 and the National Register of Historic Places in June 2012.  

A brief overview of the historic district is provided in the NASA publication, “From Biplanes to Apollo: The NASA Langley Historic District.”  

A NASA Langley employee stands in front of the 16 Foot Transonic Tunnel. The guide vanes of the tunnel, which form an ellipse 58-feet high and 82-feet wide, cut across each cylindrical tube at a 45-degree angle.
A technician prepares to unlatch the door built into the guide vanes of the 16-Foot Transonic Wind Tunnel at NASA Langley Research Center.

The historic district comprises the entirety of the center as well as several of the original National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) facilities now located at and owned by Joint Base Langley Eustis. Numerous past and present facilities at Langley are considered historically significant as resources contributing to the historic district, or as resources individually eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).

Over the years, a number of historic facilities at the center have been demolished. The decision to demolish a historic facility is determined based on numerous factors, including the facility’s usefulness or obsolescence, ability to be adaptively reused for other purposes, and costs required to maintain the facility. Undertakings affecting historic facilities, including demolition, require consultation with the Virginia State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).  

This is a photo of a large group of people, attendees at the 8th Annual Aircraft Engineering Research Conference, sitting in bleachers in the Full-Scale Tunnel. A U.S. Navy scouting aircraft hangs from the ceiling above the attendees.
Attendees at the 8th Annual Aircraft Engineering Research Conference in May of 1933 sit below a U.S. Navy scouting aircraft in the Full-Scale Tunnel. This annual gathering brought together some of the most notable leaders in aeronautics.

NASA Langley has executed three separate agreement documents with the SHPO and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP).  Two Memoranda of Agreement (MOAs) and one Programmatic Agreement (PA) contain stipulations for developing and maintaining information on the center’s public website as a component of mitigating impacts resulting from the demolition of historic facilities. NASA has also entered into a PA with the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers and ACHP to address effects on the agency’s National Historic Landmarks. Additional components of mitigation include intensive surveys and photographic documentation of the facilities kept on file with the SHPO, provision of artifacts as museum exhibits, and incorporation of building elements into new construction projects.