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Hangar One to Become an 8-Acre Eyesore?

Funding for the rehabilitation of Hangar One has been cut by the government

Driving down Highway 101 past Moffett Field, it's hard to miss the looming, black-and-white aircraft hangar being summarily torn asunder. Hangar One. A beloved architectural fixture that, unless funding appears soon, will remain a partial skeleton and a reminder of the economic hardship gripping the country.

Although it once served a great purpose for the U.S. Navy, right now the 328,500-square-foot NASA-owned building is being used for absolutely nothing.

“The hangar is currently vacant,” said Scott Anderson, Defense Base Closure and Realignment environmental coordinator.

Completed in 1933, the hangar "was originally used to house the rigid airship, the U.S.S. Macon,” said Bill Stubkjaer, curator at the Moffett Field Museum.

Stubkjaer said that even the hangar's rich history couldn't save it from abandonment, however.

“It was closed in 2002 due to contamination,” Stubkjaer said. “They found traces of lead, asbestos and PCB.”

According to Stubkjaer, the Navy has been removing the outer skin, which is the source of contamination. The Navy’s only responsibility is the removal of the contaminated outer layer of the hangar. Once completed, it is NASA’s responsibility to rehabilitate the building, he explained.

"When it is finished [the hangar] will be a bare skeleton,” Stubkjaer said. 

However, NASA's recent financial setbacks will postpone the rehabilitation of Hangar One.

“NASA had put in money to re-skin the building, and it was removed mainly for political reasons," Stubjkaer said. “NASA wanted to do it, but the people back East said, 'Nope.' Given the budget climate ... it doesn’t surprise me that the money has been taken away.”

Like Stubjkaer, Palo Alto resident Heather Linebarger is upset that the historical building could be left as an eyesore for many years, but she is understanding of the government’s decision.

“It’s sad," she said. "It’s a landmark for me. My dad used to work at NASA Ames, so I remember going to [the hangar] ... it’s a memory. But given the fact that we can’t even pay our citizens’ Social Security bills, I don’t know if we have the funding for it.” 

It is unknown how long it will be before NASA is able to rehabilitate the hangar.

“If NASA had been able to get the money, the plan was to recover it as soon as possible," Stubjkaer said. "Obviously, it’s not going to happen that way, so we don’t know [how much longer it will be]. At this stage, I don’t think anyone can foresee how long it will stay uncovered."

After the skin is removed from the hangar and the metal skeleton is exposed, NASA will have a limited amount of time to come up with the funding for rehabilitation.

“The longer it stays uncovered, the more apt it is to be damaged to the point where they will not be able to revive it,” Stubjkaer said.

“I do not know how long this could be," he said. "They are going to cover the frame with an epoxy coating, which will help preserve the metal, but it will not last indefinitely, and at some point in time, it may not be possible to recover the hangar.”

Despite the murky future for the hangar, however, there are many ideas for what will follow for the 8-acre building.

“There are a number of people out there who have ideas," Stubjkaer said. "Possibly a museum, possibly to build airships in, possibly a warehouse. The problem is, none of these people have money.”

James Yarger August 16, 2011 at 07:04 AM
Here Here!! Yea how does that work with googles mission statement of "always be good." yea right, looks more like their taking their cue for mark zuckerberg, "what a great idea you have, now I'm going to take it and call it my own." Poppy Cock!
James Yarger August 16, 2011 at 07:08 AM
Great and then way? We pay for another coating?? Admiral Moffett is doing back flips in his grave gentlemen. He would go to DC and put both feet in NASA's rear end and tell them to "repaint that giant twinky and continue on with the POD!"
James Yarger August 16, 2011 at 07:31 AM
I'm sure that the Navy as well as NASA both have their heads in each other rectums with this issue. They say the need to do this is be cause of the hangar is causing ground water contamination North of the hangar correct? Yes. Now what else is North of Hangar one? the retired Ammo Magazines, two airplane underground fueling stations and the wash racks for the the fleet of P3 and other Large Google sizes super jets. Now again, cover the hazardous "skin" inside and out with the current government grade blast spec protective coating and re-assemble the part you've taken down. and get back to work! What about leakage? the only way you will get anything to penetrate that blast coating unload a 30mm cannon on it for a few mins. with the hangars skin covered inside and out with the spec grade government blast coating, it could contain the blast of a small special weapon. What about worse case possibilities of leakage? You build a two drains, one on the inside, one on the outside, and have them set containment tanks to monitor the run off. It will save Millions of dollars to treat and midget the toxins on site at the source than to have to: 1. pay to some how safely remove that skin with out kicking up dust. 2. transport it. 3. Where does it go? 4. Twenty years from now, residents of some small community that had the hangars "skin" put into its landfill have staggering rates of cancer, birth defects, and other health problems that the government will have to pay for.
James Yarger August 16, 2011 at 07:59 AM
fixing the hangar is not going to solve the ground water problem. This is a red herring, a HUGE red herring. The toxic contamination on site there is not solely from the hangar, not by a long long shot. For seventy years the Navy did not have a Hazmat program. Weapon spills, run off from weapons, Plane washes and fuel dumps all are North of the Hangar. I've heard some talk of rapping the hangar in a new high tech fabric, ok great do that but no need to disassemble it. Its a fallacy that the hangar is dangerous to work in, it's an even bigger one that it needs to be recovered. If the danger the is from the hangars paint and exterior surface treatment than why is the hangar in Akron not also being disassembled? Hmm? This all boils down to the cost of real estate, the hangar not fitting with the current owners plans, and NASA just wanting to make the problem go away, in a town where a house that is 1200 sq ft with a 25ft x 50ft lot will cost you 1 million dollars, getting rid of hangar one sounds more like the plot of some back black and white keystone cops flic.
James Yarger August 16, 2011 at 08:03 AM
You suck helium, you have my vote for the worse airship related web site ever! Now go float away you forever self promoting phallus shaped flying object. Hire a graphic design to fix your Hangar size wreak of web site

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