The Past Creates The Future
Recently, some folks in Virginia who have been working for years to preserve the legacy of the Wright Brothers and educate new generations about their achievements have taken up the task of fighting to save the Langley Full-Scale Wind Tunnel from the wrecking ball. Ken Hyde and his team at The Wright Experience made use of the tunnel to test their reproduction of the original Wright Flyer, rediscovering the design's aerodynamic properties. More recently, the wind tunnel has been used to test Boeing's blended-wing-body designs, and a trucking company has put it to use to find ways to decrease drag, and reduce fuel consumption, for its fleet.
The building is owned by NASA, and used by Old Dominion University in their research programs. Barry Newman, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, visited the place recently and described it as reminiscent of "an opera house ... where all the arias are about flight." Charles Lindbergh, Howard Hughes, and other aviation notables have spent time at the wind tunnel, and it retains an aura of being an important place where significant things happen. When the lease runs out in September, NASA wants to demolish the building and replace it with a parking lot -- where we can be assured nothing interesting or useful will ever happen...
It's sad to lose a historic structure like this one, and once it's gone, it's gone forever. If the facility is under-used, maybe it would make more sense to encourage more use of it, rather than knock it down. The world doesn't really need another parking lot.