The laboratory was established by Dr. August Raspet in 1948 and has been in continuous operation since its founding. The lab’s initial research was in low-speed aerodynamics and boundary layer control, which culminated during the mid 60s in the design, construction, and flight-testing of the U.S. Army’s XV-11A, an all-fiberglass short takeoff and landing (STOL) airplane using active boundary layer suction and a ducted propeller driven by a turbine engine.
During the 1970s the lab concentrated on general aviation research funded by NASA and private industry, with ground-breaking work on aircraft cooling drag and design tools to estimate and reduce aircraft drag. Additional research was done to discover new flight test methods that would separate the thrust and drag components of aircraft performance and better identify whether propulsion or aerodynamics was adversely affecting aircraft performance.
With the reduction in NASA aeronautics funding in the late 70s, the lab has transitioned to working with industrial and other government agency partners to use laboratory aircraft and facilities to further aeronautical research. These have included Lockheed Aircraft Corporation of Georgia, Honda Research and Development, Seemann Composites, the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and DARPA.