Making Aerospace History at NASA’s Langley Research Center

The President of PHM Design, LLC in Ellijay, Georgia, Carl Byington was previously a Director of Engineering at a Rochester, NY, technology firm and Sikorsky Aircraft. Carl Byington started his career at the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia working on hypersonic propulsion as he pursued his graduate degree in Aeronautical Engineering.

Now comprising almost 200 facilities across 764 acres, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Langley originally opened in 1917, after its construction was delayed by World War I and the Spanish Flu pandemic. It is perhaps an important reminder for our current coronavirus and Covid-19 times, that even during adversity and struggle, or perhaps in spite of these, enormous national accomplishments can be achieved. Since that time NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) has evolved to NASA and Langley Air Force Base was co-located with the research facilities. Throughout the many decades, NASA Langley has provided fresh insights into the development of aircraft and space vehicles.

Its primary experimental research tool is the wind tunnel, which simulates flight conditions at various airspeeds and atmospheric pressures. Langley has built seven full scale tunnels in all, each an improvement on the previous ones or to help accomplish new technology or mission objectives. As they grew larger, entire airplanes, such as World War II bombers, could be placed in the tunnels. In addition, there exist many smaller scale tunnels including blowdown-style tunnels, which only flow for a short period of time and can produce the extreme temperatures to test propulsion and re-entry effects.

The post-war transition to breaking the sound barrier brought more innovations. Longitudinal slots were added to the high-speed tunnels to manage airflow. Since the 1980s, Langley’s newest transonic tunnel has tested the flight characteristics of the space shuttle and the Boeing 767 and 777 jets.

Langley also made other contributions to crewed spaceflight. Mission procedures for the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs, as well as the Orion moon program, were developed there. The next generations of space vehicles continue to be developed and tested both computationally as well as experimentally by these NASA researchers. Carl Byington’s own research focused on scramjets and fuel injector designs for hypersonic propulsion aircraft that could start from horizontal flight and achieve low earth orbit at Mach 25.




Adventure, travel, culture, endurance activities, engineering, environmental, wellness, and fitness. Prior UPenn Grad, NASA rocket scientist, and aero engineer.

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Carl Byington ~ Engineer, Adventurer, Traveler

Carl Byington ~ Engineer, Adventurer, Traveler

Adventure, travel, culture, endurance activities, engineering, environmental, wellness, and fitness. Prior UPenn Grad, NASA rocket scientist, and aero engineer.

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