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Langley Air Force Base, Hampton, Virginia

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Langley Air Force Base (IATA: LFI, ICAO: KLFI, FAA LID: LFI) is a United States Air Force base located in Hampton, Virginia, adjacent to Newport News. It was one of thirty-two Air Service training camps established after the entry of the United States into World War I in April 1917.

On 1 October 2010, Langley Air Force Base was joined with Fort Eustis to become Joint Base Langley–Eustis. The base was established in accordance with congressional legislation implementing the recommendations of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission. The legislation ordered the consolidation of the two facilities which were nearby, but separate military installations, into a single joint base, one of 12 formed in the United States as a result of the law.

Early Years

Langley Air Force Base, originally known as Langley Field, is named after Samuel Pierpont Langley, an aerodynamic pioneer and a former Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Langley began aerodynamic experiments in 1887 and formed a basis for practical pioneer aviation. He built and saw the first steam model airplane in 1896 and the first gasoline model in 1903. Both planes were believed to be capable of flight. He also built the first man-carrying gasoline airplane in 1903, which failed to fly on its first attempt and broke apart and crashed on its second. It was, after major modification eleven years later, flown "successfully" by Glenn Curtiss for a little over 3 seconds, traveling 150 feet through the air in 1914. Langley Field was the first Air Service base built especially for air power, is the oldest continually active air force base in the world and is the oldest airfield in Virginia.

Inter-War Years

In the early 1920s, Langley became the site where a new air power concept was tried and proven. Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell led bombing runs from Langley by the 1st Provisional Air Brigade over captured German warships anchored off the coast of Virginia and North Carolina. These first successful tests set the precedent for the airplane's new role of strategic bombardment.

Throughout the 1930s Langley Field occupied a principal position in the Army's efforts to strengthen the offensive and defensive posture of its air arm. The small grassy field became a major airfield of the United States Army Air Corps, and many of the brick buildings of today were constructed at that time.[6]

World War II

At the outbreak of World War II Langley took on a new mission, to develop special detector equipment used in antisubmarine warfare. Langley units played a vital role in the sinking of enemy submarines off the United States coast during the war. The field was also used for training purposes.

Cold War

On 25 May 1946 the headquarters of the newly formed Tactical Air Command were established at Langley. The command's mission was to organize, train, equip and maintain combat-ready forces capable of rapid deployment to meet the challenges of peacetime air sovereignty and wartime air defense. The arrival of Tactical Air Command and jet aircraft marked the beginning of a new era in the history of the field, and in January 1948 Langley Field officially became Langley Air Force Base.

In January 1976 the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing was transferred to Langley from MacDill Air Force Base, Florida with the mission of maintaining combat capability for rapid global deployment to conduct air superiority operations. To accomplish this mission, the 1st TFW was the first USAF operational wing to be equipped with the F-15 Eagle.

Post Cold War

On 1 June 1992, Langley became the headquarters of the newly formed Air Combat Command, as Tactical Air Command was inactivated as part of the Air Force's restructuring.

On 15 December 2005, the 1st Fighter Wing's 27th Fighter Squadron became the Air Force's first operational F-22 fighter squadron. The wing's complement of 40 F-22s, in the 27th and 94th FS reached Full Operational Capability on 12 December 2007.

Langley Air Force Base was severely damaged by flooding due to the storm surge from Hurricane Isabel in September 2003 and again during the November 2009 Mid-Atlantic nor'easter. Hurricane Isabel damages to Langley Air Force Base were approximately $147 million. The damages associated with the 2009 nor'easter were approximately $43 million. Resilience measures taken since 2003 include raising low-lying critical infrastructure, mandating a minimum elevation for new construction, construction of a 6-mile-long sea wall and a groundwater pumping station. The site of Langley Air Force base, with an average elevation of 3 feet, has seen 14 inches of sea level rise since 1930.