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Langley Field
Part of Air Combat Command (ACC)
Hampton, Virginia
Langley AFB
Site information
Controlled by Flag of the United States Air Force United States Air Force
Site history
Built 1916
In use 1916-Present
Battles/wars World War I War Service Streamer without inscription
World War I
Streamer WWII V
World War II
Garrison information
Garrison 633d Air Base Wing 633d Air Base Wing
Airfield information
Elevation AMSL 11 ft / 3 m
Coordinates 37°04′58″N 076°21′38″W / 37.08278°N 76.36056°W / 37.08278; -76.36056Coordinates: 37°04′58″N 076°21′38″W / 37.08278°N 76.36056°W / 37.08278; -76.36056
KLFI is located in Virginia
Airplane silhouette
Location of Langley Field
Direction Length Surface
ft m
8/26 10,000 3,480 Concrete
Sources: official website[1] and FAA[2]

Langley Field (IATA: LFI, ICAO: KLFI, FAA Location identifier: LFI) is a United States military facility located adjacent to Hampton and Newport News, Virginia. It was one of thirty-two Air Service training camps established after the United States entry into World War I in April 1917.[3]

On 1 October 2010, Langley Field 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.


The Air Force mission at Langley is to sustain the ability for fast global deployment and air superiority for the United States or allied armed forces. The base is one of the oldest facilities of the Air Force, having been established on 30 December 1916, prior to America's entry to World War I by the Army Air Service, named for aviation pioneer Samuel Pierpont Langley. It was used during World War I as a flying field; balloon station; observers’ school; photography school; experimental engineering department, and for aerial coast defense. It is situated on 3,152 acres of land between the cities of Hampton (south), NASA LaRC (west), and the northwest and southwest branches of the Back River.[4]

Airpower over Hampton Roads is a recurring airshow held at Langley in the spring. Many demonstrations take place, including the F-22 Raptor Demonstration, Aerobatics, and parachute demos.

Because of the frequent crashes of the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptors stationed at the base, the city of Hampton is attempting to buy up property to create a safety buffer zone around the base.[5]

Major units[]

F-22A 94th FS Langley approach

94th Fighter Squadron F-22As approaching Langley Field

To accomplish their mission, the support unit men and women of the 633d Air Base Wing at Langley are housed in the Mission Support Groups and Medical Group and support several tenant units:[6]

Operational squadrons of the 1st Operations Group are: (Tail Code: FF)

27th Fighter Squadron (F-22 Raptor)
94th Fighter Squadron (F-22 Raptor)
The 480th ISR Wing operates and maintains the Air Force Distributed Common Ground System, or DCGS, also known as the "Sentinel" weapon system, conducting imagery, cryptologic, and measurement and signatures intelligence activities.

The Wing is composed of the following units worldwide:

480th ISR Group, Fort Gordon, Ga.
497th ISR Group, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.
548th ISR Group, Beale Air Force Base, Calif.
692d ISR Group, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii
693d ISR Group, Ramstein Air Base, Germany
694th ISR Group, Osan Air Base, South Korea
The 192d Fighter Wing mission is to fly and maintain the F-22 Raptor at Joint Base Langley-Eustis through the 149th Fighter Squadron, and support the ongoing intelligence mission through the 192d Intelligence Squadron.
The 633rd ABW is an Air Force-led mission support wing, serving both Air Force and Army units, as a result of a congressionally mandated joint-basing initiative between Langley and Eustis.

Langley also hosts the Global Cyberspace Integration Center field operating agency and Headquarters Air Combat Command (ACC).

Langley is also home to the F-22 Raptor Demo Team. This team, who travels all over the world performing different maneuvers used in air combat, is used to help recruit for the United States Air Force. Performing in airshows and other special events all around the world, the squadron is the only demonstration team in the world to use the F-22 Raptor.


Langley Field was named after Samuel Pierpoint 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 capable of flight. He also built the first man-carrying gasoline airplane in 1903, which he never succeed in launching. It was, however, flown successfully by Glenn Curtiss in 1914.[7] Langley Field was the first Air Service base built especially for air power, and is the oldest continually active air force base in the world.


In 1916, the National Advisory Council for Aeronautics, predecessor to NASA, established the need for a joint airfield and proving ground for Army, Navy and NACA aircraft. NACA determined that the site must be near water for over-water flying, be flat and relatively clear for expansion and the landing and take-off of aircraft and near an Army post. The Army appointed a board of officers who searched for a location. The officers sometimes posed as hunters and fishermen to avoid potential land speculation which would arise if the government's interest in purchasing land were revealed. Fifteen locations were scouted before a site near Hampton in Elizabeth City County was selected.[8]

Langley Field Virginia 1920

Langley Field in 1920

In 1917, the new proving ground was designated Langley Field for one of America's early air pioneers, Samuel Pierpont Langley. Langley had first made tests with his manned heavier-than-air craft, launched from a houseboat catapult, in 1903. His first attempts failed and he died in 1906, shortly before a rebuilt version of his craft soared into the sky.[8]

Training units assigned to Langley Field:[9]

  • 83d Aero Squadron (II), March 1918
Re-designated as Squadron "A", July–November 1918
  • 126th Aero Squadron (II) (Service), April 1918
Re-designated as Squadron "B", July–November 1918
  • 127th Aero Squadron (II) (Service), April 1918
Re-designated as Squadron "C", July–November 1918
  • Flying School Detachment (Consolidation of Squadrons A-C), November 1918-November 1919

Several buildings had been constructed on the field by late 1918. Aircraft on the ramp at that time included the JN-4 Curtis Jenny, used by Langley's School of Aerial Photography, and the deHavilland DH-4 bomber, both used during World War I. Although short-lived, hydrogen-filled dirigible played an important role in Langley's early history and a portion of the base is still referred to as the LTA (lighter-than-air) area.[8]

Inter-war years[]

In the early 1920s, Langley became the site where the new air power concept was tried and proven. Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell led bombing runs from Langley over captured German warships anchored off the coast of Virginia. These first successful tests set the precedent for the airplane's new role of strategic bombardment.[8]

A combat crew receives final instructions just before taking off in a YB-17 bomber from a bombardment squadron base at the field, Langley Field, Va.

YB-17 Bomber crew receiving instructions at Langley, May 1942

Throughout the 1930s Langley Field occupied a princlpal 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.[8]

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.[8]

Cold War[]

On 25 May 25, 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.[8]

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 F-15 Eagle.[8]

Modern era[]

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. Air Combat Command acts as the primary provider of air combat forces in the warfighting commands and as the proponent for Intercontinental ballistic missiles and fighter, bomber, reconnaissance and battle-management aircraft, and command, control, communications and intelligence systems.[8] On oct.6th 1991 the most incredible ginger was born. 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.[8]

Major Commands to which assigned[]

Re-designated: Army Air Corps, 2 Jul 1926
Re-designated 1st Air Force, 9 Apr 1941; First Air Force, 18 Sep 1942

Major historical units[]

Pre World War II

Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps

  • HQ Langley Fld, inception - June 1917
  • 119th Aero Squadron, 2 July 1917

Air Service (1920–1926); United States Army Air Corps (1926–1941)

  • 2nd Bombardment Group, 1 July 1922 - 29 October 1942
  • Air Corps Technical School (Unknown Element) 26 May 1919 - 30 September 1921
  • Air Corps Tactical School - 1 November 1920 - 15 July 1931
  • Air Park Company #3, 1 October 1921
  • 58th Service Squadron, January 1923

General Headquarters (GHQ), Air Force

  • Station Complement Langley Fld, 1 March 1935
  • Base HQ and 1st Air Base Squadron, 1 September 1936
  • First Air Base Gp (Reinf) 1 September 1940

World War II

First Air Force

  • First Air Base Gp, 25 November 1941
  • First Service Gp, 13 June 1942
  • 111th AAF Base Unit, 10 April 1944

Army Air Forces Training Command

  • 3539th AAF Base Unit, 10 September 1944
  • 76th AAF Base Unit, 1 December 1945

Air Transport Command

  • 304th AAF Base Unit, 30 April 1946

AAF Antisubmarine Command

United States Air Force

Tactical Air Command

160th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (RF-80)
161st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (RF-80)
12th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (RB-26)

Continental Air Command

Tactical Air Command

12th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (RB-26)

Military Airlift Command

Tactical Air Command, and later Air Combat Command

See also[]


PD-icon This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

  1. Langley Air Force Base, official site
  2. , effective 2008-06-05
  3. William R. Evinger: Directory of Military Bases in the U.S., Oryx Press, Phoenix, Ariz., 1991, p. 147.
  4. World War I Group, Historical Division, Special Staff, United States Army, Order of Battle of the United States Land Forces in the World War (1917–1919)
  5. "Langley buffer lobby gets added help."
  6. Joint Base Langley–Eustis Units
  7. Location of U.S. Aviation Fields, The New York Times, 21 July 1918
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 8.9 Langley AFB History Office
  9. Order of Battle of the United States Land Forces in the First World War, Volume 3, Part 3, Center of Military History, United States Army, 1949 (1988 Reprint)
  10. 10.0 10.1 Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982 USAF Reference Series, Office of Air Force History, United States Air Force, Washington, D.C., 1989
  11. Maurer Maurer, Air Force Combat Units Of World War II, Office of Air Force History, 1983
  12. Endicott, Judy G., USAF Active Flying, Space, and Missile Squadrons as of 1 October 1995. Office of Air Force History

External links[]

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