Langley Research Center Wind Tunnels
The NACA broke ground for the first office building at its Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in July 1917, and the first wind tunnel began to be constructed in 1919. Langley grew substantially over the next decade, adding wind tunnels that set new standards in size and performance, including the 20-Foot Propeller Research Tunnel, the massive 30- by 60-Foot Full-Scale Tunnel, and the laboratory’s first tunnels capable of Mach 1. These facilities taxed the available land on the east side of Langley Field, so the NACA built its last pre-World War II wind tunnel, the 16-Foot High-Speed Tunnel, in a new area on the west side of the airfield. Most new tunnels opened after 1941were built in this West Area, and a few smaller ones were eventually relocated there as well. New facilities opened during the 1950s included several supersonic and specialty tunnels, the Gas Dynamics Laboratory for hypersonic testing, and Langley's Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel, plus laboratories for investigating materials at high temperatures, and instrumentation facilities. When Congress created NASA in 1958, many of Langley's activities became focused on spaceflight. Budget limitations and changes in the aerospace industry have since resulted in the closing of a number of Langley'’s wind tunnels. Nevertheless, the center continues to operate more than a dozen wind tunnels, and it remains America’s largest, most comprehensive aeronautical laboratory.
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