For other uses, see Hangar (disambiguation).
A cutaway diagram of a hangar

A hangar is a closed building structure to hold aircraft, spacecraft or tanks[1] in protective storage. Most hangars are built of metal, but other materials such as wood and concrete are also used. The word hangar comes from Middle French hanghart ("enclosure near a house"), of Germanic origin, from Frankish *haimgard ("home-enclosure", "fence around a group of houses"), from *haim ("home, village, hamlet") + gard ("yard").

Hangars are used for: protection from the weather, protection from direct sunlight, maintenance, repair, manufacture, assembly and storage of aircraft on airfields, aircraft carriers and ships.


The Wright Flyer outside the aircraft's makeshift hangar

The Wright brothers stored and repaired their aircraft in a wooden hangar constructed in 1902 at Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina for their glider. After completing design and construction of the Wright Flyer in Ohio, the brothers returned to Kill Devil Hill only to find their hangar damaged. They repaired the structure and constructed a new workshop while they waited for the Flyer to be shipped.

Carl Richard Nyberg's hangar for his Flugan (fly) from 1908, Täcka udden in Lidingö, Sweden
Foto: Bengt Oberger

Carl Richard Nyberg used a hangar to store his 1908 Flugan (fly) in the early 20th century.

In 1909, Louis Bleriot crash-landed on a northern French farm in Les Baraques (between Sangatte and Calais) and rolled his monoplane into the farmer's cattle pen. At the time, Bleriot was in a race to be the first man to cross the English Channel in a heavier-than-air aircraft, so he set up his headquarters in the unused shed.

In Britain, the earliest aircraft hangars were known as aeroplane sheds and the oldest surviving examples of these are at Larkhill, Wiltshire. These were built in 1910 for the Bristol School of Flying and are now Grade II* Listed buildings. British aviation pioneer Alliott Verdon Roe built one of the first aeroplane sheds in 1907 at Brooklands, Surrey, and today full-size replicas of this and the 1908 Roe biplane are displayed at Brooklands Museum.

As aviation became established in Britain before World War I, standard designs of hangar gradually appeared with military types too such as the Bessonneau hangar and the side-opening aeroplane shed of 1913 - both of which were soon widely adopted by the Royal Flying Corps. Examples of the latter survive at Farnborough, Filton and Montrose airfields. During World War I, other standard designs included the RFC General Service Flight Shed of 1916, the Admiralty F-Type (1916), the General Service Shed (featuring the characteristic Belfast-truss roof and built in various sizes), and the Handley Page aeroplane shed (1918).

Airship hangars

Main article: Airship hangar

Airship hangars (also referred to as "airship sheds") are generally larger than conventional aircraft hangars, particularly in terms of height. Most early airships used hydrogen gas to provide them with sufficient buoyancy for flight, so their hangars had to provide protection from stray sparks in order to prevent the flammable gas from exploding. Hangars that held multiple craft of this type were at risk from chain-reaction explosions. For this reason, most hangars for hydrogen-based airships were built to house only one or two such craft.

During the "Golden Age" of airship travel (starting in 1900), mooring masts and sheds were constructed to build and house airships. The British government built a shed in Karachi for the R101, the Brazilian government built one in Rio de Janeiro, the pt:Hangar do Zeppelin for the German Zeppelins, and the US government constructed Moffett Field, Akron, Ohio, and Lakehurst Naval Air Station, Lakehurst, New Jersey

Steel construction

Sheds built for rigid airships survive at Moffett Field, California; Akron, Ohio; Weeksville, North Carolina; Lakehurst, New Jersey; Base Aérea de Santa Cruz (Rio de Janeiro):pt:Hangar do Zeppelin and Cardington, Bedfordshire. Steel rigid airship hangars are some of the largest in the world.

Hangar 1, Lakehurst, is located at Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst (formerly Naval Air Station Lakehurst), New Jersey. The structure was completed in 1921 and is typical of airship hangar designs of World War I. The site is best known for the Hindenburg disaster; where on May 6, 1937, the German airship Hindenburg crashed and burned while landing. Hangar No.1 at Lakehurst was used to construct and store the American USS Shenandoah. The hangar also provided service and storage for the airships USS Los Angeles, Akron, Macon, as well as the Graf Zeppelin, and the Hindenburg.

The largest hangars ever built include the Goodyear Airdock measuring 1,175x325x211 feet,[2] and Hangar One (Mountain View, California) measuring 1,133x308x198 feet. The Goodyear Airdock, is located in Akron, Ohio. The structure was completed on November 25, 1929. The Airdock was used for the construction of the USS Akron and her sister ship, the USS Macon.

Hangar One at Moffett Federal Field (formerly Naval Air Station Moffett Field), is located in Mountain View, California. The structure was completed in 1931. It housed the USS Macon.

Six helium-filled blimps stored in one of the two hangars at the former Marine Corps Air Station Tustin

Wood construction

The US Navy established expanded airship operations during WWII. As part of this ten "lighter-than-air" (LTA) bases across the United States were built during World War II as part of the coastal defense plan; a total of 17 hangars were built. Hangars[3] at these bases are some of the world's largest freestanding timber structures. Bases with wooden hangars included: the Naval Air Stations at South Weymouth, Massachusetts (1 hangar); Lakehurst, New Jersey (2); Weeksville, North Carolina (1); Glynco, Georgia (2); Richmond, Florida (3); Houma, Louisiana (1); Hitchcock, Texas (1); Tustin (Santa Ana), California (2); Moffett Field, California (2); and Tillamook, Oregon (2).

Of the original seventeen, only seven remain today: Moffett Federal Field, (former NAS Moffett Field), California (2); former Tustin, California (former NAS Santa Ana and MCAS Tustin), California (2); Tillamook Air Museum/Tillamook Airport (former NAS Tillamook), Oregon (1); and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst/Naval Support Activity Lakehurst (former NAS Lakehurst), New Jersey (2).[4]

Fabric construction

Main article: CargoLifter

A hangar for Cargolifter built at Brand-Briesen Airfield. The hangar (360 m long, 220 m wide and 106 m high), is a technological marvel in itself, is a freestanding steel-dome "barrel-bowl" construction large enough to fit the Eiffel Tower on its side. The company went into insolvency, and in June 2003, the company's facilities were sold off and the airship hangar was converted to a 'tropical paradise'-themed indoor holiday resort called Tropical Islands, which opened in 2004.

An alternative to the fixed hangar is a portable shelter that can be used for aircraft storage and maintenance. Portable fabric structures can be built up to 150 feet wide, 100 feet high and any length. They are able to accommodate multiple aircraft at once and can be increased in size and even relocated when necessary.

Hangars aboard ships

Many ships - particularly warships - carry aircraft aboard and will often have hangars for storage and maintenance. Such hangars may be situated adjacent to the flight deck (as is common on cruisers, destroyers and frigates) or underneath the flight deck with elevators to lift the aircraft (as is common on aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships). On some vessels where space is at a premium the hangar and flight deck share the same space, with the hangar stowing away for flight operations.

Structures and sizes

Hangars need special structures to be built. The width of the doors have to be large; this includes the aircraft entrance. The bigger the aircraft to be introduced, the more complex a structure is needed. According to the span of the hangar, sizes can be classified thus:

Size Span (meters)
S Less than 30 m
M 30–60 m
L 60–90 m
XL 90–120 m
XXL More than 120 m

XXL hangars are built for the largest aircraft in the world, for example:[5] the Airbus A380, Boeing 747 and the Antonov 225. Such structures are the most complex to erect.


Hangars are usually regulated by the building codes in the countries and jurisdictions and airports where they reside. In August 2014, the American FAA proposed legislation of how a hangar can be used on airfields that receive government funding. The definition of allowed activities included final assembly of aircraft.[6]

See also


  1. http://www.tankmuseum.org/about-us/history
  2. "A Nine Acre Nest For Dirigibles" Popular Science Monthly, September 1929
  3. Building the Navy's Bases in World War II, History of the Bureau of Yards and Docks and the Civil Engineer Corps, 1940-1946 Volume I - Part II: The Continental Bases
  4. "Hangar 1". NAVAIR Lakehurst. Archived from the original on 2012-09-24. Retrieved 2016-10-07.
  5. http://www.mallasespaciales.com
  6. "FAA issues draft Hangar Use Policy". Sport Avaition: 11. September 2014.
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