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Editorial: Navy's half-step on Hangar One

Original post made on Aug 6, 2008

In spite of an exhaustive and apparently well-done study of alternatives, the U.S. Navy has proposed an inadequate plan for cleaning up and restoring the uniquely historic Hangar One at Moffett Field.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, August 6, 2008, 12:00 AM

Comments (17)

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Posted by Mikie On Maui
a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2008 at 9:46 pm

What the Navy is proposing is not surprising. The island of Kahoolawe next to Maui was used as a bombing range for years. The Navy was finally forced to deactivate it. Part of the agreement was for them to remove all unexpended ordnance. They were given $400 million and ten years to complete the task. They made a good effort but didn't realize how much material was there and how wide spread it was.

The Navy pulled out in November, 2003. The island is now held in trust for a possible future Native Hawaiian Sovereignty entity. That's a whole other story that would take books to explain.


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Posted by Buy It Or Demolish It
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 6, 2008 at 10:05 pm

Hangar 1 has no further relevance to the Navy's mission. To clean it up and leave it in restorable condition is therefore a reasonable compromise offer. Anyone who wants it for whatever reason needs to take responsibility, and buy it and fix it up themselves.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2008 at 12:03 am

I thought an airtour company was bringing a dirigible from Germany for sightseeing tours over the Bay which would be housed here using this hangar. Any news on that?


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Posted by Walter E. Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 7, 2008 at 5:26 am

This topic is akin to an episode of Ghost Busters, where much effort is expended against a phantom menace. THERE IS NO CONCEIVABLE MECHANISM BY WHICH THE MATERIAL IN THE ROOFING CAN CONCENTRATE TO A TOXIC DOSE. To continue treating the hangar as a toxic hazard is a flat out lie. It is axiomatic that the dose makes the poison. What and how, wreckers?


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Posted by Bird Lover
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2008 at 7:07 am

Walter: How come toxic runoff has been detected in the marshland on the edge of Moffett Field which is directly affecting the bird life of the Bay, and those toxins have been traced directly back to Hangar One?


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Posted by Walter E. Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 7, 2008 at 10:16 am

What is the concentration and how many birds were affected? Probably not as many as the birds that will lose their safe nesting spots in the hangar rafters if the building is gone. A proper investigation would incorporate control studies of adjacent drainage plumes. Just how did the study differentiate between the runoff from the hangar and the runoff from all the other built-up and composition roofs in the area? Incidentally, I did my bit when I specified the first fiberglass underground gasoline storage tanks at the PX gas station.


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Posted by John
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 7, 2008 at 2:49 pm

Why anyone thinks this is worthy of historical status is beyond me. It is not an attractive building, and I can't see any real need for it - with the possible exception of bird nests. Of course the latter means lots of guano on the ground below.


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Posted by Mr. Ohlone
a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2008 at 3:44 pm

Federal Land - Indian Gaming all under the dome.

Cha Ching

We need a grand gaming site and with a runway no less.

Fantastic, fly-in gamble and leave!


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Posted by Buy It Or Demolish It
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 7, 2008 at 4:24 pm

"Why anyone thinks this is worthy of historical status is beyond me."

As I pointed out on another thread, Hangar One is a monument to one of the worst ideas the Navy ever tried. Those big clumsy fragile gasbags, including the one it housed, were a far deadlier threat to their crews than to the enemy.


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Posted by Walter E. Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 8, 2008 at 3:40 am

In the days before radar, the ability to scout the enemy from on high was a priceless advantage worth the risk. Read about the balloon busters in WWI. Heavier than air was also dangerous. The Zeppelin fleet, even with the hydrogen danger, accumulated thousands of hours of safe, comfortable passenger service.


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Posted by Buy It Or Demolish It
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 8, 2008 at 10:03 am

You are confusing rigid airships with blimps. The former, exemplified by the Zepplins, did some showcase passenger service until the Hindenberg incident, and also did some minor terror bombing of London in WWI until the Brits got better guns and they became sitting ducks (as well as crematoriums for their crews). Blimps, basically big balloons, were actually used for scouting in WWI and performed some near-shore ASW patrol duty in WWII. (They didn't dare approach surface ships because they were very easy targets for AA guns.) Blimps support sports broadcasts today.

The airship Macon, which was based in hangar 1, never saw combat. It crashed in a storm off Point Sur on February 12, 1935, killing two of its crew. Neither did Macon's predecessor the Akron, which crashed in a storm off New Jersey on April 3, 1933, killing 73. Nor did Akron's predecessor the Shenandoah, which crashed in a storm near Caldwell Ohio on September 3, 1925 killing 13.

After the Macon the Navy used hangar 1 for various purposes, even as a hangar, until Moffett Field closed. It has no further Navy mission, and the Navy should not be spending public funds on anything not relevant to its mission.

I have no objection at all to restoring hangar 1. I just think it ought to be done with private money. There must be somebody in Silicon Valley with a few million dollars laying around, who want their name on a huge building. Go talk to them. Buy hangar 1 or demolish it.


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Posted by Walter E. Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 8, 2008 at 1:40 pm

"the Navy should not be spending public funds on anything not relevant to its mission." Precisely! And the Navy has no mission to spend 28 million dollars for no rational reason except someone's animus.
The Navy mission of the dirigibles was long range fleet patrol, with range far beyond even modern blimps. The Japanese would never have attempted Pearl Harbor if Macon was patrolling around Hawaii. I am not a Navy fan, although they got me to and from my war safely, but I do know aviation history enough not to need to Wiki it. Hey, I even met Wrong-Way Corrigan!


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Posted by Buy It Or Demolish It
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 8, 2008 at 3:15 pm

I don't know what might be on Wiki, but I'll take facts from any source rather than an active imagination any time.

First, anyone with even the most casual familiarity with military procurement knows intended mission and operational capability very often differ. These airships never came close to their billing.

The Macon would have had no effect at Pear Harbor. Any Japanese pilot in the mood for a sport shoot would have splashed it in half a minute, and anyone who has done visual overwater patrol can tell you the chances of spotting unanticipated aircraft, even hundreds of them, is small. It's a big ocean and the air is never crystalline. Besides, nobody heeded the visuals that did occur until the bombs started going off.

Finally, congratulations on meeting another aviator who can't read his compass.


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Posted by Nothing-Is-As-It-Seems
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 8, 2008 at 4:41 pm

>The Macon would have had no effect at Pear Harbor.

There was a Radar unit that located the incoming Japanese, but no one interpreted the "blips" on the screen correctly.

Pearl Harbor was bait. Roosevelt wanted the Japanese to hit it.


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Posted by John
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 8, 2008 at 5:25 pm

I agree that those who want to save the hangar should pay for its restoration. I am not in favor of using scarce public funds to restore a building with no obvious function (except bird nesting?). Saving a structure just to look at it is the height of folly.

In an aside - why does anyone think it would cost "only" $40 Million? Past experience should tell us that is a starting figure and would go up from there with no given maximum.


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Posted by Walter E. Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 8, 2008 at 8:44 pm

Don't know what is on Wiki? Gee, someone beside McCain who doesn't understand computers. The Hangar is a sunk cost - the 28 million is a future expense for an unnecessary destruction. As for Corrigan's compass skill, it seems he hit his landfall pretty good. Thanks for the "another aviator" but with only 20 hours of 65 HP time I decided I'd rather have kids than wings. I did, of course, help finance Voyager's round the world flight.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Buy It Or Demolish It
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 11, 2008 at 11:47 am

Let's see now. Your favorite font of info, the Wiki Web Link says Corrigan was supposed to be flying from New York to Long Beach, but he wound up in Ireland instead, claiming he misread his compass. That's landfall all right, a mere 5000 miles off target.

Too bad you washed out short of your ticket. I got mine and it's been a blast.


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