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Moffett Field Dirigible Hangars
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Moffett Field Dirigible Hangars

All photographs taken by Kenneth A. Larson. All rights reserved. © 2007 - 2017.

Three dirigible hangars stand at Moffett Field at the southern tip of San Francisco Bay between Mountain View and Sunnyvale, a little northwest of San Jose. Hangar One, built in 1932 to shelter the airship USS Macon, is one of the largest remaining purpose-built hangars in the nation. As of this writing, the contaminated outer skin is being removed from Hangar One who's future is in doubt.

Moffett Federal Airfield, commonly referred to as Moffett Field, is a joint civil-military airport, formerly a United States Navy facility, now owned by NASA Ames Research Center. NASA Ames may be best known for several large wind tunnels, including the Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel and the National Full-Scale Aerodynamic Complex. What most people see as they drive past on Highway 101 are the three dirigible hangar, Hangars #1, #2, and #3. Hangar One is one of the world's largest freestanding structures and has an unusual elliptical dome measuring 1,133 feet long, 308 feet wide, and 198 feet high, with clam-shell doors at both ends. Hangar #1 covers 8 acres, Hangars #2 and #3 are slightly smaller and have a less distinct shape.

When the Navy pulled out, they left a subject for debate. NASA wanted the Navy to clean up the site and restore the Hangars, the Navy chose only to remove the contaminated skin of Hangar One and leave the frame exposed. Money once appropriated for re-skinning the building was withdrawn. In April 2011 the year-long process began to remove the exterior panels, corrugated metal contaminated with lead and asbestos, starting at the top. Within four months, 90% of one side was stripped.


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This page last updated: Saturday, 06-Jul-2013 12:41:27 EDT

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