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Buildings & Ships in Aviation’s History

There are many historic aircraft but there are fewer historical constructions in aviation’s history. At times a visit to an aircraft museum has a bonus, synergistic in nature, by virtue of the buildings associated with the displays. It may be the construction method of the hangar, or it could be architecture of the terminal — be it new construction or built during the olden days.  There are also historical vessels that once served proudly now forever tied to land; as well as constructions that are neither building or ship. Just as the aircraft are displayed, they may be well kept or simply left to fend for themselves — or some quasi in-between state. This page is to help remember these few — sometimes rare — buildings, vessels and constructions.

Note: This is a work very much in progress and meant to be informal — not comprehensive as are the two museum lists.


Tillamook Air Museum is a former airship hangar that is now the largest wooden building in use today. Remarkably built in less than 30 days! There are other hangars from the days of airships: Akron, Moffett, and Point Mugu. A description of Tillamook’s hangar and aircraft was posted on 14 July 2009, Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum and the Tillamook Air Museum.

Sole remaining hangar of Tillamook Naval Air Station — photo by Joe May

Detail of the hangar's construction — photo by Joe May

Super Guppy as an appetizer for the Tillamook Air Museum — photo by Joe May


Miami City Hall, originally built by Pan American Airways for their flying boat service between Florida and South America in the 1930s. This building has something to be seen both on the outside and on the inside.

Miami's City Hall — photo by Joe May


Vintage Flying Museum

This is a private collection of aircraft housed in a vintage hangar dating from WW II. It was taken apart and relocated to the present airport — that must have been an effort. This adds ambiance to the carefully restored and maintained aircraft there. A post about this fun and rich museum was published on 29 July 2009, entitled Dallas/Fort Worth Area Part II — the Vintage Flying Museum.

Inside the antique hangar of the Vintage Flying Museum — photo by Joe May


Alameda Naval Air Museum is located on Alameda Point and is a neighbor of the USS Hornet Museum. A bit worn but chock full of artifacts, scores of professionally built models, charismatic docents and an architecture of obvious style.

Now retired from duty as an airport-like terminal at the former military base, now home to the Alameda Naval Air Museum — photo by Joe May


Hangar B at H.A.R.P. and Floyd Bennett Field

I cannot say enough about this National Park facility. Floyd Bennett Field is one of the USA’s most historic airfields — and you can drive most of the runways and taxi ways now that the field is closed to aviation. Historic hangars abound, though closed, except for Hangar B where H.A.R.P. is located — all dating from the early 1900s. The post New York, New York Part I —  H.A.R.P. and the Cradle of Aviation Museums, published on 15 July 2009.

Interior of H.A.R.P.'s Hangar B — photo by Joe May


Marine Air Terminal at La Guardia Airport once served flying boats plying trans Atlantic routes … it has a circular mural depicting aviation history through the 1940s, when the terminal was built.


Boeing’s Red Barn at the Museum of Flight built in 1909 and, incredibly, in brand new condition — display artifacts from aviation’s first century is the icing on the cake, the real deal is actually viewing how early aircraft were built as well as the post and beam construction of the building, carpenters ruled back in the day!


Fantasy of Flight Aircraft Collection

Kermit Weeks built an aviation experience with this facility of three hangars and an art deco inspired diner 🙂

Fantasy of Flight's main entrance and attached hangar — photo by Joe May

Aircraft under taxi and the restoration hangar — photo by Joe May


Wright’s replica hangar at Huffman’s Prairie


National Air & Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center

This is a huge museum but that is not why it is on this list. The museum has been artfully designed to reflect an aircraft hangar, though it holds dozens upon dozens of airplanes, as well  as a control tower.

Entrance to the Udvar-Hazy Center — photo by Joe May

"Control Tower" of the Udvar-Hazy Center — photo by Joe May

Naturally, I have several posts involving the complex, but two give an overall description as well as directions:

  • Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Complex I — Boeing Aviation Hangar,  17 March 2010
  • Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Complex II — James S. McDonnell Hangar,  24 March 2010


Pearson Air Museum is the oldest hangar — built in 1918 — that is in current use and is located at the oldest operating airfield.


Aviation Museum of New Hampshire sits in an art deco building that was built in 1937.


USS Hornet

Now berthed at Alameda Point — where Jimmy Doolittle was born. Jimmy Doolittle led his famous mission over Japan in WW II from this ships predecessor. The museum is mostly the ship herself, but there are aircraft and historical items at the USS Hornet Museum.

USS Hornet, now a serene ship museum afloat — photo by Joe May

Stand where the previous USS Hornet brought aboard sixteen B-25 aircraft and set sail to go into harm’s way, during the USA’s dark days of early WW II, for what has become known as “The Dolittle Raid”.


USS Intrepid

This aircraft carrier, redone in 2009, is the center of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

Island of the USS Intrepid — photo by Joe May

See the ship, aircraft from three eras, WW II artifacts, a Concorde SST and more! A post on this is dated 15 July 2009, and is called New York, New York Part II — Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.


USS Lexington

Is the main exhibit of the USS Lexington Museum on the Bay and she has tons of aircraft, tours and sits on scenic Corpus Christi Bay.


USS Yorktown

Is the center piece of the Patriot’s Point Museum and possesses many aircraft as well as artifacts — and sits close by gorgeous Charleston.


USS Midway

Sits in San Diego’s harbor, has two dozen aircraft, many cockpits to climb in and is another immense aircraft carrier that one board and tour.


Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum

Oversized timbers soaring above the display floors encased in glass make for a unique and modern architecture befitting the American Northwest. One building for aviation that houses Howard Hughs’s “Spruce Goose”, another for an IMAX theater and a third for aerospace and elegant café — this museum complex is well worth the half hour drive from Portland Oregon. If timed properly, the drive is more pleasant as you will be driving through wine country with grapes on the vines. I described my visit to the museum in Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum and the Tillamook Air Museum, published on 14 July 2009.

Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum from the highway photo by Joe May

The aviation building at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum — photo by Joe May

Entrance to the aviation building at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum — photo by Joe May


Tachiarai Peace Museum


MOSI — Chicago


Cradle of Aviation


National Museum of the U.S. Air Force with six hangars (or three twinned hangars, if you like) that were purpose built for this national museum, could there be more? Yes! Two more hangars, these built decades ago, that one can take a tour bus to see — but check with the web site for schedules.

Entrance to the National Museum of the USAF — photo by Joe May

Two posts in particular about this museum will be helpful in describing the museum:

  • Dayton,  Ohio USA Part I — National Museum of the United States Air Force, first half (published on 9 September 2009)
  • Dayton,  Ohio USA Part II — National Museum of the United States Air Force, second half (published on 16 September 2009)


B-52 Memorial Park

Dedication notice at the B-52 Memorial Park — photo by Joe May

We have all seen aircraft on individual displays. Some sit on their landing gear while other are atop a post or a plinth. Few are placed in a quiet out-of-the-way park, on a purpose built earthen mound with the gear affixed to stanchions — with viewing platform placed so that the visitor can also view this immense aircraft at cockpit level. That is why a visit to this park is so pleasing — so if you are in the Orlando area, especially when at the Orlando International Airport …

A post on this park was published on 4 September 2009, and is called Photo Funday — Orlando BUFF — Orlando B-52 Memorial Park.


The International Terminal at the San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

Arrival level if SFO's International Terminal — photo by Joe May

San Francisco is deservedly famous for its sense of art and lives up to the reputation with its airport, located in South San Francisco. Inside, the terminal has a museum and two large world museum-class galleries located in the lobby, another such lobby display in Terminal 1 and yet another display beyond the security screening in Terminal 3. But it is the sweeping curves and illuminating use of glass, both clear and colored, that gives this terminal a sense that it is more than a transfer point. Instead it a place for visiting, gazing, eating (excellent fare is offered at many restaurants) and pondering — an artful place.


Mural in Lake Placid FL

Mural on a W Interlake Blvd building in Lake Placid FL — photo by Joe May

Detail view of the PBY Catalina and Grumman seaplane in this Lake Placid mural — photo by Joe May

Central Florida towns often have buildings with murals covering exterior walls in their entirety. A building on W Interlake Blvd, between the railroad tracks to the west and S Main St to the east, has a mural with a PBY Catalina and a small Grumman seaplane in the subject matter.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 3 April 2010 10:45

    Joe you have compiled a great list of buildings and taken some good shots to support these places. I’ll keep these places in mind for future trips.

  2. 19 March 2019 15:48

    Joe – it’s Ed. Been trying to get in contact with you. What is your new contact info? Hope all is well.

    • travelforaircraft permalink
      26 March 2019 00:31

      We fixed that 🙂 Have a cigar 😉

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