History of the hangar in the desert | Next to a French farm, Blériot transforms a cattle pen into the first hangar

While working on the project last week, I had a lot of time to think about many topics. As I sat in the beautiful, sparkling new building, the thought began to cross my mind, and I began to think about how the simple structure could have been so overlooked when it plays such an important role in the world of aviation.
My home at Aerotech is called “High Desert Hangar Story”, a word for “hangar” that originated in France years ago when aviation pioneer Louis Blériot crashed his plane near a farm and moved the wreckage to a metal stall to be unaffected by the weather until it works. Shortly thereafter, he approached a company that built him three steel sheds, as he was impressed with the functionality and durability of the first.
Of course, the Wright brothers had housed their planes before, but they were just wooden sheds—more for indoor work than storage. So Louis used the word hangar because he used and used the French word Hangart or Haimgard meaning “fence near the house”. It stalled, and today, more than 100 years later, the word is synonymous with aviation.
In the Antelope Valley, the entire history of aviation has largely depended on fences near our homes, because the harsh conditions of our desert homeland are not optimal for the life of aircraft. With this comes the unique aspect of the industry of building, testing and supporting the operations of aircraft of all kinds, from civil to military to spaceflight.
Over the years of flying in Antelope Canyon, we have seen the old hangars come and go, but some of these early hangars are still standing today. Surprisingly, all the survivors could fit in Lockheed’s hangar at Factory 42!
Recall that when Jenny first landed on the fields of Palmdale Farm, the aircraft’s storage requirements were low. For decades, visiting planes were almost like horses harnessed outside a tavern, but over time, the first few hangars appeared.
Many believe that the first hangars may have appeared in Murok, but in the 1930s the dry lakebed at the East Camp consisted mainly of tree branches and tents. These early birds live a life tied to the bottom of a lake.
In hindsight, I’m sure there may have been some buildings around the valley that housed some of the planes. In my opinion, the first true metal building hanger to inhabit the valley was at Caterfield, later known as Lancaster Airport, on the northwest corner of 10th Street and Avenue I in Lancaster.
Soon, flight conditions here in the Antelope Valley allowed for small airports, and these hangars became a common sight in the valley. From the 1930s to the 1940s, the aviation world was in full swing. Industry grows and expands at breakneck speed, construction of airports and ancillary facilities spreads throughout the valley, and war looms in the distance.
Plans are being made for the future of Antelope Canyon, from Pancho Barnes’ Lucky Bottom Riding Club and its hangar to the construction of the Lancaster Martial Eagle Field. Palmdale Airport, Mojave Airport, and the first major buildings at Muroka’s northern base have defined Aviation Valley for generations.
When the big aircraft companies saw the benefits of flight testing and building production, it didn’t take long for big gliders and airplanes to appear in our valleys and become commonplace on the skyline of any American city.
The small businesses that are also growing should not be overlooked, and old hangars have been a common sight over the years, like the somewhat famous and beloved Quartz Hill business that operated from the 1940s until its demise in the 1980s. This hanger, left over from World War II, is the soul of Quartz Mountain, and many people use it as a landmark to show the way.
At Murok (Edwards Air Force Base), the arrival of two priceless hangars set up around all of the World War II support facilities at South Base allowed NACA and Douglas to really get into the air operations on this lakebed. Hangars began to appear rapidly as aircraft manufacturers came up with new aircraft designs and designs. The hangar now located in Edwards is as legendary and famous as the planes that housed it, and walking around the hangar or just looking at it from a distance, you can only imagine the thousands of stories that have happened in the history of the aircraft.
In Lancaster, at the old Battle Eagle Field at 60th Street and 1st Avenue, where three World War II hangers still stand, I had the pleasure of going inside and getting a taste of the spiritual warfare they witnessed when America was fully committed to a unified world. Cadets here and from all over the world have used it as a stepping stone in their struggle for freedom in the world. Standing in the silence of one of the old survivors, you can almost hear the sound of pneumatic tools as civilian aircrews work tirelessly through the night to make sure the planes are ready for the never-ending cadet training missions by dawn.
Editorial restrictions prevented me from sharing other stories about the place, and I didn’t even touch on the amazing work of Factory 42 and how a simple 1930s hangar still serves as a cornerstone for generations of aircraft and keeps the story going.
So, today we face many different problems when it comes to what used to be called “the fence around the house.” Airplanes need a safe haven, and this applies to all generations of aircraft. If the aircraft is not maintained constantly, over time it will become unusable.
This, of course, is also a problem – hangars are needed for placement in hangars, they are not small and not cheap. While the current generation of aircraft is well-placed, it is difficult for historic aircraft to find the love they need indoors, in a safe environment, and for a historian this is an unbearable aspect.
We love to keep our winged story, but I also feel like we also need to find ways to keep the structures that are the binding structures around the stories. Just the thought of those old National Advisory Committees on Aviation (NACA) and Douglas hangers-on who couldn’t take advantage of all the history that happened in them because of bureaucracy and costs is heartbreaking. I have always believed that finding paths and answers requires no more effort than starting over, and when it comes to history, you should not start over. “Where there is a will, there is a way.”
Published every second Friday, Aerotech News and Review serves the aerospace and defense industries in Southern California, Nevada, and Arizona.
The deadline for press and promotional text is the Tuesday afternoon before launch. The publisher assumes no responsibility for advertising errors other than the use of space.
Advertisements appearing in this publication, including inserts or supplements, are not services of the Department of Defense, US Air Force, US Army, US Navy, US Marine Corps, or Aerotech News and Review, Inc. in relation to products or advertising.

Post time: Dec-08-2022