Support for renovation and reuse of historic airport hangars soars


SANTA BARBARA, Calif.-Historic airport hangars drew a crowd at the Airport Commission meeting. t

The General Western Aero Hangars Restoration Analysis Study was presented to the Airport Commission.

The commission learned about its environmental review, and efforts to include the public in the discussion.

Some people consider the original hangars part of local aviation history.

When General Western Aircraft Corp. moved to Goleta in the 1930s Frederick Stearns built the hangers.

Stearns is the namesake for the Santa Barbara Wharf.

Historians say the hangars were used to build the first propeller planes.

One of those propellers is by the old Airport Administration building’s flag pole.

A dedication plaque reads: “The airport is dedicated to the memory of the pilots and the air crew of the Unities State Marine Corps. trained at this station, who gave their lives to their country. ‘Semper Fidelis’ May 30, 1948.”

WWII veterans used the airport as an airbase and used the hangars as makeshift barracks.

They are located in the corner of the airport near Hollister and Fairview.

Santa Barbara Airport Director Chris Hastert enjoys learning about their history.

‘There are very few airports that have the original building that was associated with the airport on them and the fact that this goes all the way back to 1931,” said Hastert, “There’s a lot of stories I’m sure that could be told about those two buildings and so anything that we can do to preserve them we would definitely like to proceed down the path.”

One old photo donated by the late Tom Smotherman shows Amelia Earhart on a plane right in front of the Aero Hangars.

His sister was on hand to say she had lots of his treasured aviation items to donate if the hangars had space for them.

Members of the Airport Commission like the idea of ​​restoring them where they are already locating and keeping them safe from flooding.

Financing a plan will take time and around $2.5 million in grants and donations.

Historians are trying to spread the word in hopes of raising funds.

The Santa Barbara City Council will take up the issue on April, 30.

For more information visit https://www.SantaBarbaraCA.gob or