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Hangar One, 2013

Moffett Frame

Last weekend I ran out to San Francisco for a crazy fast trip for  business and to see friends.  First order of business immediately after landing was a run up to Moffett Field where I was stunned to see that Hanger One at Moffett had its skin removed.  Apparently, there was  asbestos in it as well as PCBs leaching into the Bay and had to be removed.  The hope of course was that the Google folks Sergei Brin, Larry Page and others would park their planes at Moffett in the big hangar in exchange for paying for the renovation.  They pay to park their planes (8 aircraft including a 757 and Gulfstream V jets) at Moffett, and had agreed to front the $33 million to restore the hangar, but one of the security folks on base was telling me that negotiations fell through and restoration of the hangar is now in doubt, particularly in the face of the looming Sequestration of 2013 and Congress’s inability to perform their job and decide on an operating budget.


Moffett Hangar end

The hangar is an imposing structure originally built as an airship hangar for the USS Macon.  It covers over 8 acres on the site and was completed in 1933.



Hangar One is considered a Naval Historical Monument, so the inability to reach an agreement on its restoration is particularly troubling.  The animated gif above is a current photo taken during my trip morphed into a photo made by my Grandfather in 1942 showing what the building looked like with its skin.  I tried to find the approximate position where the photo was taken to make this image.  Other images I have of Moffett in 1942 were made from places where trees are either in the way or from areas on the airfield, not easily accessible unfortunately as it would have been fun to make more of these gifs.


Hangar up close

Hangar looking up

Hangar corner

I’m grateful for the 30 minutes or so I had to walk around the hangar as it allowed me to explore lines and interactions with the structure of the hangar.  I truly am hopeful that one of these days, Hangar One will be properly restored as its been an icon in the South Bay for decades, easily seen from miles around.



F-104 Moffett

There is also a museum right next to Hangar One, that unfortunately was closed.  Perhaps there will be another opportunity to get back and visit as it would be interesting to see what was there.  They certainly had one of my favorite aircraft, a Lockheed F-104 Starfighter (coolest name for a jet fighter ever) in period NASA livery in a fenced off portion of the parking lot next to the museum.


Aaron Rowe and Dan Sokol

My friend Aaron (@soychemist) it turns out, works with Dan Sokol at Scanadu, an interesting startup founded by Walter De Brouwer that hopes to build medical tools that enfranchise people to take a more active role in their healthcare.  Walter and I talked for about an hour and I can’t wait to see what they can do with their technology.

I also had the distinct pleasure of talking engineering and history on a walk around Moffett field with Aaron and Dan while we took in the sights.  Dan is one of the original members of the Homebrew Computer Club and an engineer, previously with In-Three Inc., Wheels of Zeus and zowi and also has the distinction of being the world’s first software pirate.  Thanks for the conversation Dan.


Moffett hangar sunset

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13 Responses

  1. Wonderful post — love the before and after — perfectly aligned.

  2. If you haven’t been there yet, Tillamook, Oregon has a nice air museum in a blimp hangar ( The hangar would be a little smaller than this one I think because it was for blimps and not airships, but well worth a visit.

  3. Terrific shots. I used to drive by this every day and didn’t realize the work had started. Clever use of the animated GIF; that’s terrific you were able to line it up just so.

  4. An impressive structure and a photographic plane, very graphic, beautiful

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. […] flying around including C-130′s and V-22′s that I’d seen flying out of Moffett a couple days before.  Kyle is a defense analyst and the two of us met as contributors over on War Is Boring. […]