Home       Aeronca    Stinson                                                                                                               ... by John Baker


Hangar Construction Project

Added 1/8/10 , updated  12/15/14.      Click on any photo for a larger view.

Like many pilots, I had long dreamed of an airstrip in the back yard and a hangar next to the house.   With the house almost done, in 2009 I began construction of a hangar at a private residential airstrip in Virginia.  To keep costs down, I did as much of the work as was practical myself, as I did with the house.  For those considering building a hangar, perhaps seeing how I did it will be helpful.  If you'd like to start at the groundbreaking, go to the Hangar Project 2009 Archive page. The photo above was taken on March 10, 2013.

December 15, 2014.  Today I flew across the Rappahannock River to the Tappahannock Airport (XSA).  Upon return, I taxied back to the hangar and parked on the apron as I usually do.  The hangar is off the left wing.  I will use the taildragger dragger to turn the plane 90 degrees and pull it, tail-first, into the hangar. I snapped this photo before I got out of the airplane.  Sometimes I just have to ask myself, "Is this real?"  After decades of driving to and from the airport to fly, I feel so fortunate that now, in my retirement years, I don't have to make that drive. 

November 11, 2014.  The hangar is just a few steps from the back door of the house.  Concurent with the hangar project, we continued with finishing details on the house and property.  The work is never done!

August 4, 2013.  We've been working on getting grass to grow in the area around the hangar.  We have more weeds than grass, but at least it's green.   Thankfully, there has been enough rain this year to avoid the typical August "brown-out." The Adirondack chairs provide a shady place to relax when the sun is too bright on the west side of the hangar.

July 26, 2013.  Okay, this may be over the top for a hangar, but, hey, it's home.  We did a little landscaping on the west side where we can sit and watch the activity on the runway.


March 30, 2013.     On warm summer days it will be nice to open both the main hangar door and the new rear garage door for cross ventilation.  The aerial photo shows how the hangar is sited relative to the house.


March 9, 2013.  This winter, we did some work on the driveway, extending it to the back east wall of the hangar. We installed a garage type door so we could easily bring a vehicle into the back of the hangar without disturbing the airplane.  This past year we also completed the detached garage where we keep the cars and added a woodshed next to the garage.  The original garage attached to the house is now an artists studio for my wife Sukey.

May 15, 2012.  Compare this photo with the one taken on July 27, 2010.  We've added rain gutters and have made some progress with getting grass growing around the ramp.

April 16, 2012.  This photo shows that the hangar will easily hold two Aeroncas with room to spare.   After buying the Champ in the foreground, I sold the Chief in December 2012.

July 27, 2010.  Here's another shot of the finished front of the hangar.  This morning was clear and calm and reasonably cool, so I took the Chief up for exercise.  The air was absolutely still and it was beautiful on the Northern Neck.  Returning from flight, my practice is to taxi unto the apron from the side, then use the taildragger dragger to swing the tail towards the hangar.

July 26, 2010.  With the exterior painting finished, today I installed the hardware on the loft door.  Yesterday I re-installed the exterior light fixtures.

July 11, 2010.  Today I secured the rubber top hinge cover to the door.  Rather than just screw the bare rubber to the door as suggested by the manufacturer, I had some aluminum trim shaped with a ten foot metal brake to form a drip edge.  I think this gives a more finished appearance.

June 27, 2010.  The siding is now done on all four walls.  After doing the west and south walls ourselves, we hired some help for the last two walls.  The pros sure do work a lot faster!

May 25, 2010.  My friend Mike Roe helped me finish hanging the west wall siding.  Still have caulking and painting to go on this wall.

May 2, 2010.  Today I did some electrical work, adding flood lights on the gable above the main door.  With high temperatures and humidity in the region, I worked with less enthusiasm than other days, but also continued the siding work on the west wall.


May 1, 2010.  A marathon week of siding work.  The south gable wall is done, with just caulking and painting to go on the main door side.  My wife Sukey helped with most of the siding, including the gable work done using two 28 foot extension ladders.  At the peak, the gable is about 23 feet above ground level.  Only three more sides to go!  To add some character and break up the expanse of siding on the gable, I used some left-over Miratec trim to add "faux" loft doors.  I will add hinges and latches so the doors appear to be functional.

April 23, 2010.  Yesterday I installed the rubber seal at the top of the door.  The seal covers the hinges.  The standard seal supplied is of heavy black rubber, the same as the bottom seal, but I ordered a seal made of heavy white rubber for aesthetic purposes.  Today I installed the Miratec trim around the door - 1x4 on the sides and 1x6 at the top.


April 14, 2010.  A milestone day.  With the hangar closed in, it was time to move the airplane into the hangar for the first time.  I've also started moving some of my other "stuff" into the hangar, including struts and control surfaces from the Stinson project, stored in the trusses.  Special thanks to my neighbors at VA99, Mike Roe and John Federhart,  who generously allowed me to house the Chief in their hangars while I built my own.

April 3, 2010.  Today we finished skinning the door.  Now we're ready for the trim and siding on the door wall.


April 2, 2010.  Yesterday the metal for the door sheathing arrived.  Also, my neighbors at Cockrell's Marina brought their arc welding equipment and reinforced the frame splice plates.  The manufacturer is now recommending that the splices are welded for all doors, not just the larger (18' and taller) sizes.  With the welding completed, I wire brushed the welds and repainted.  Today, with help from Sukey, I started installing the metal sheeting.   I used 26 gauge metal from Union Corrugating Company, purchased from my local lumber yard. Each piece covers three feet of width and is precut for the full height of the door.  Self tapping screws are easier to drive if a pilot hole is first drilled.

March 23, 2010.  Today I worked more on the siding installation, which I began yesterday.  I'm using fiber cement siding by James Hardie with a six inch reveal.  This will be painted to match the house.  For cutting the siding, I use an SS204 Snapper Shear, which avoids the excessive and harmful dust that would be created by using a saw. I use a tool  designed by Allyn Rehm called a Hang-N-Nail that holds the siding in the proper position, making it possible to work solo.  And finally, a Hitachi NV 65AH pneumatic siding nailer drives the stainless nails to the correct depth.


March 20, 2010.  I painted the truss portion of the door.  This will be exposed after the metal sheeting is installed.  The truss gives strength to the door and prevents sagging when in the open position.  There is a slight outward bow to the truss.


March 12, 2010.  After adding more hydraulic fluid to the resevoir, I cycled the door all the way open.  The door provides for a large clear opening and also serves as an awning when open. 


March 12, 2010.  I finished the electrical hookup and hydraulic line plumbing for the door and partially cycled the door for the first time.  It works!


March 9, 2010.  Neighbors help with the grunt work and I find myself up on a ladder again.  Half inch bolts attach the header, half inch lag bolts attach the jambs.  The fit was excellent.


March 9, 2010.  Today we hung the door - a bit of a milestone.  Andy Cockrell mans the crane to lift the door into position.


February 15, 2010.  I finished assembling the door frame, using a come-along, a hydraulic jack, and large bar clamps to pull the door frame sections together and align the uprights at the splice points.  The bare frame weighs about 2500 pounds, or as much as three Aeroncas.  Inside the hangar I mounted the hydraulic pump/reservoir and control box.

February 9. Once at the hangar, the door was unloaded from the trailer and positioned on the apron.


February 9, 2010.  With the ground frozen, we decided it was a good time to bring the door frame from the marina to the airstrip.  It was a little tricky making the turn into the driveway. Andy Cockrell of Cockrell's Marine Railway did a fine job maneuvering in tight spaces.


February 4, 2010.  A big day as the door arrives.  This is a 42'x12' door.  The two 42 foot long sections will bolt together to form a one piece door that operates hydraulically.  With heavy truck access to the airstrip limited because of melting snow and soft ground, we made the decision to offload the door at the nearby marina.  Once conditions permit, the door will be be moved to the airstrip on a smaller trailer.

February 1, 2010.  Winter strikes again and progress slows.  We had at least 12 inches of snow on the ground by the end of the day on January 30th, unusual for this part of Virginia.  I installed some of the overhead fluorescent light fixtures that you can see here.  I chose to go with T-8 fixtures for energy efficiency.  I used only nine overhead fixtures (four 48" tubes in each fixture) which has proved to be more than adequate.  Outlets are installed on the east and west walls. 


January 27, 2010.  Today we finished installing the Tyvek on the gable wall above the main door.  Scaffolding and long ladders are necessary tools.  Up on the ladders with me was my "most able assistant," best friend, and partner of more than 30 years, wife Sukey.  Earlier in the week, I added some internal cross bracing to strengthen the door opening, and also made more progress on the electrical installation.


January 20, 2010.  Today I worked on the trim.  This included trim around the doors and windows as well as the corner boards.  I'm using a product called MiraTEC.  These are treated, composite, water resistance trim boards.  The same trim was used on the house.


January 18, 2010.   If I were a carpenter....  Here I'm taking advantage of an unseasonably warm day in January to mark the openings and cut the sheathing for the windows.  In the second photo, more progress on the Tyvek housewrap, all windows and walk doors are installed. The Andersen Frenchwood sliding door with transom window was originally installed on the house, but was removed when we changed the design.  I decided to recycle it for the hangar. 


January 8, 2010.  A cold snap on the US East Coast has slowed work on the hangar project.  With temperatures in the teens, outdoor work is uncomfortable, so I have shifted work back to finishing details on the house. Before the snow, we had a few good days.  My wife Sukey helped me install some of the Tyvek house wrap.  Still lots more to go.  I installed and flashed the third of ten windows. The windows are fixed panel, double pane vinyl units by Atrium.

For earlier photos from 2009 that begin with the groundbreaking, click on the Hangar Project 2009 Archive Page.

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