Henry J. E. Reid graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1919 with a B.S. in electrical engineering. After a brief stint in private industry, he joined Langley Aeronautical Laboratory in 1921 as one of a small group of engineers and scientists then on the professional staff there. His principal field of research was the design and improvement of basic instruments for flight research. He became director of the center in 1926 and presided over the extensive growth that accompanied its becoming a leading aeronautical and space research facility. He retired in 1961.