A Pilot's Perspective.

By Barry Meek.

April 2007

Hangars and Much More

The garage, the shop, or workshop, the basement, den, or office.  Most guys need a space, someplace special, set aside for “himself”.   In our case, it’s the hangar.   And on a warm, sunny afternoon, a wonderful pastime is to browse around the local or some distant airport, and peek into the open doors of other guys hangars.   It’s sometimes surprising what we’ll find.

An article like this could easily turn into a full book describing the various treasures that can be found in hangars.   To the non-aviator, most airports appear to be a neat collection of tidy, aluminium buildings containing ..... well, probably airplanes.   But as pilots, we know better.   Each one of those shiny shrines houses a mans’ world, as individual as the man himself.    And always, without exception, there’s interesting “stuff” to look at, which naturally leads to a discussion with the owner.  

That warm sunny day you set out to go flying, inevitably turns into one or more of these discussions, and before you know it, it’s already dinner time.   And you forgot to close your flight plan.   Worst case, it’s getting too dark to fly back to your home field without that “semi-legal” twilight landing.   But what an enjoyable day, flying.

Over many years of doing just that, I’ve compiled (in my mind) the ideal hangar, which utilizes some of the unique ideas from many fellow pilots.   My hangar would have a workshop, a place that’s clean, tidy and stocked with a complete set of tools, all of which get used on each project.   There wouldn’t be a tool I didn’t own.   There would be a space for a vehicle, perhaps the one I drive or one I’m working on.   My kayaks would need to fit too.   I’d need a storage room for parts, both aircraft and automotive, and for the old parts, already used but still good for something.   A motorcycle wouldn’t take much room, but there would have to be a little corner someplace for it.

Naturally a bathroom would have to fit in, with or without a shower.   Probably with.   A fridge for cool drinks, snacks and TV dinners.   A microwave would be close by, along with a sink and small kitchen full of dishes.   Then, because all that is available, a cot would be nice on those warm afternoons or the occasional overnight stay.   Speaking of warm afternoons, the picnic table, chairs and umbrella would share space with the gas barbeque.   

All the comforts, a home away from home as it were, would invite stays of longer duration.   There might just as well be a computer hook-up, a small desk, filing cabinet and proper lighting in the office.   While I’m doing that, a telephone would be installed (if the cell phone was unserviceable).   Perhaps there should be a TV too?   A sound system for certain.   And a good magazine collection.

Certainly there are fellows who have much more, and more interesting stuff in their hangars.    My list could go on, but what I’ve included seems to me to be the absolute essentials for every guys airplane hangar.   A couple of important considerations you need to be aware of when you’re building or buying your new hangar, are location and location.   Obviously it must be close to a runway to minimize the taxi time, and it must face the runway.   After all, you and your buddies can’t sit and look out at just another hangar door across the taxiway.   You have to enjoy a clear view of the training, the endless touch-and-goes, and all the landings other pilots flub so you’ll have things to talk about all afternoon.

I’m open to suggestions, practical ideas, on how to make my hangar more user friendly for women. You’ve undoubtedly noticed that wives, girlfriends or other casual female observers don’t show up much around the hangars at an airport.   Our other half should not be excluded intentionally. Undoubtedly there are the ladies who share an interest in flying, and should be made to feel welcome.   

Last, but not least, we can’t overlook a space for the aircraft. Paint the lines on the floor so that pushing back is never a chore, and so you don’t hit anything, you might as well attach chocks exactly where you want the plane to be each night.    With everything else that must be included in the hangar, your airplane may need to be something with folding wings.

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