NASA: Hampton Takes Flight

July 9, 2017, marked the 100th anniversary of the 1917 groundbreaking for construction of the National Advisory Commission on Aeronautics' (NACA) Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory—now NASA Langley Research Center at the Army's then-new Langley Field.

Construction of Langley Field actually began in 1917, but the chaos of mobilizing for war in Europe delayed completion of the NACA's facilities for three years. By the end of 1918, the first of the NACAs buildings on Langley Field was complete and in operation. In 1920, Langley's first operational wind tunnel laboratory came online. By 1931, NACA Langley was generally acknowledged to be the world's premier aeronautical research establishment. That year, Langley's Full-Scale Tunnel began operations, joining the ingenious Variable-Density Tunnel and Propeller Research Tunnel and completing a set of research facilities that outperformed any other single collection of facilities in the world.

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Thanks to the reliable data resulting from the intelligent use of Langley's unique complex of experimental equipment, American aircraft began to dominate the world's airways. In 1958, the NACA was succeeded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Hampton again became the center of the aerospace research universe, with projects Mercury, Gemini and Apollo based at Langley.

This exhibit celebrates the NACA and NASA's singular history and immeasurable contribution to the community in Hampton. The exhibit features artifacts and images acquired from NASA Langley Research Center. This installation is the first step in a comprehensive retelling of Hampton's twentieth-century history.