Langley AFB, VA HistoryLangley Field is one of the oldest active airfields in the USA and among the oldest air bases in the US Air Force, dating to a selection in 1916 and operation to 1918. The site was selected by National Advisory Council for Aeronautics, the original predecessor for what is now NASA, to be a proving ground for "aeroplanes" to enter service for the US Army's Air Section. The field was named Langley for one of the earliest US aviation pioneers, Samuel Pierpont Langley, in 1917.
Langley Field was the site of some very innovative concepts, for the time, including aerial photography (performed from the Curtiss JN-4 Jenny biplane), and early bombing testing, as well as early US use of lighter-than-air dirigibles. Dirigibles didn't last, but a section of Langley is still called the LTA area. In the 1920s General Billy Mitchell based his testing of the strategic bombing concept of captured German warships from Langley, paving the way to strategic bombing of World War Two and the early nuclear age.
World War Two brought explosive growth to Langley, and it became a major air base for the East Coast. The threat of German submarines brought a new anti-submarine air patrol mission to Langley; in addition to anti-sub bombing missions, Langley was the site where anti-sub tactics and use of radar were developed and put in practice, locating and destroying German submarines threatening US and Allied shipping. Submarine attacks were the greatest practical threat to the US mainland in World War Two, and Langley was one of the main defenses against them.
After World War Two, Langley was assigned the new Tactical Air Command, headquarters for defense of the central East Coast, principally responsible for air defense organization, command, and training against threats to US airspace supremacy. In 1948, Langley was renamed Langley Air Force Base, and the new air base continued its defense mission through the Cold War.
The end of the Cold War reduced and consolidated many Air Force commands and units, and the Tactical Air Command was combined with other commands to form Air Combat Command, main combat force provider for the Air Force. ACC is still headquartered at Langley, and the base now houses the 1st Fighter Wing's 27th Fighter Squadron, the first unit flying the highly advanced F-22 Raptor. Langley Air Force Base was organizationally joined with nearby Fort Eustis in 2010 to form Joint Base Langley-Eustis.