Tag Archives: airplane hangars

Barndominium Airplane Hangars and More

I really suppose it is unfair of me to limit this article to just airplane hangars, as I have had instances to design hangars for helicopters as well.

As an elementary school student, my pre-teen friends and I were all very impressed when a girl down our street’s father landed his helicopter in a field behind their house. We made certain to keep this area free from weeds, so he could land more often!

When I was a post frame building contractor, we were approached by a gentleman who lived in a very exclusive neighborhood a few miles north of our office in Millwood, Washington. His idea was to land his helicopter in his driveway and roll it away into its own post frame hangar to be attached to his home. Somehow his neighbors were not overly enamored of this idea and sadly mounted successful efforts to see his idea did not come to fruition.

A project actually coming together as it should have was a barndominium/hangar just outside of Las Vegas. When most think of how difficult it could be to acquire a Building Permit in Clark County, Nevada, they turn tail and run. Either I was not smart enough, or was too stubborn, to realize it could be a challenge and happily dove right in.

Our client wanted to combine living and flying. Moreover, he wanted to live above his hangar. This would be no simple accomplishment, as he required a 42 foot clearspan width to allow for his hangar door as well as to provide enough wall each side of this door to prevent racking due to wind shear. Our client’s original idea was an attic truss, one giving a bonus room at center. This proved to be too limiting as he would end up with only a long and narrow room at the middle of his second floor.
Instead, we designed for a solution using 42 inch deep parallel chord floor trusses and placed a second floor on top of this system. Post frame to his rescue!

Looking to live where you fly? Or fly from where you live? Give Hansen Pole Buildings a call today 1(866)200-9657.

Airplane Hanger

Interested in more light reading on hangars? Go to www.HansenPoleBuildings.com – navigate to SEARCH at upper right and click on it. Type HANGAR in this search box and ENTER. Magically you will be treated to numerous relevant articles on hangars for your reading enjoyment. You can do this with any term, try BARNDOMINIUM for instance.

Designing YOUR Aircraft Hangar

Hangars are often referred to as being glorified garages for airplanes. As airplanes and their needs for space and maintenance are as varied as their owner’s personalities, there is no “one size fits all”. Hangars can be as simple as a “shade” pole building, to as sophisticated as a complicated environmentally controlled maintenance facility. Since planes are designed to fly, it is important to minimize maintenance time, and maximize their being available for the next flight.

Cessna Airplane HangerAny major manufacturer of aircraft issues a set of facility and planning criteria for their aircraft. Thought in planning should go to not only aircraft which will currently be housed in the hangar, but also to possible aircraft which may use the building in the future.

Every hangar will include one or more of the following spaces – the hangar “parking” space itself, shop areas, warehousing, office/administration and specialty areas, as well as utilities.

When planning a hangar, actual area needs for the general spaces need to be considered. What type of aircraft will be housed in the hangar? Will maintenance be performed in the hangar? If so, adequate space needs to be allocated for it. Will things be stored or warehoused in the hangar? Is an office or living space needed? How about providing for bodily functions? Bathrooms may need to have more than just a toilet and a sink. Have you considered a shower? If a hangar the public will be accessing, it may need to be handicap accessible. Climate controlling some or all of the space? Provisions will need to be made for HVAC equipment, if so.

Will you want to spend time overnight at the hangar?  Space for a bed, kitchenette complete with fridge and microwave are considerations. How about storage space for provisions?  Although you don’t expect to live there on a full time basis, short term stays are not unusual. We have several clients who came back a year after purchasing their hangars and added dual level living areas at the back of their hangars for those weekends when they wanted to work on their airplanes.  They wanted to save time by not running an hour or more to their home, and the hangar became their weekend “man cave”.

If multiple aircraft will be housed in a hangar, provisions may need to be made for multiple hangar and access doors. Individual planes may need to be segregated by interior walls either for security, or because of fire separation requirements.

Although the original hangar owner may not be a “hands on” person, preparing for the possibility of maintenance needs of future owners increases the value of the building.

To determine the most efficient use of hangar space, use templates representing the aircraft as well as any other large vehicles or objects which will occupy the building. Draw templates and the prospective hangar “floor plan” at the same scale. Arrange the templates in various combinations to make the most efficient use of space and to allow for adequate access and maintenance.

Minimum separation distance between aircraft as well as between aircraft and other obstructions can be found in AFH 32-1084 Facility Requirements.

Fire protection is an important consideration factor in sizing hangar space. NFPA 409 – Standard for Aircraft Hangars sets out four different groups of hangars based upon size and construction type. As a general rule, the smaller the hangar space, the less expensive fire protection and utility requirements will be.

When planning hangar space, pay close attention to tail heights, as well as the height and width of the hangar door openings. In larger hangars, distance to means of egress (think “person” doors) can come into play.  Multiple doors may be necessary if you end up adding the overnight living space.

With proper planning, pole building hangars can provide generations of functionality, with an affordable investment. It doesn’t hurt to have a few elements of “fun” in it, whether it is the big screen TV in the corner showing your favorite football or baseball game while you work on your plane, or a bed to crash on after a long day of flying. If you are going to build it, make it a building with “enjoyment” appeal.

My First T Hangar

When I was constructing pole buildings in the 1990’s we contracted to put up a T hangar at Felts Field in the Spokane Valley of Washington.

Felts FieldWhen I was a boy, my Dad was co-owner of a Cessna 182 Skylane, which he kept hangared at Felts. The history of Felts Field dates back far before my days, however.

In 1920 the then Parkwater airstrip was designated a municipal flying field (the site had been used for takeoffs and landings as early as 1913). Although designated a public airstrip, the area was not entirely cleared of stones and the early 20’s found Spokane County’s both chronically drunk and also the prisoners getting “exercise” by removing stones from the airfield!

In September 1927 the airfield was renamed Felts Field and September 12 of the same year saw the landing of Charles Lindbergh and the Spirit of St. Louis.

Prior to the opening of Geiger Field (Spokane International Airport), during World War II, all airmail and commercial airlines flew in and out of Felts Field. Today approximately 170 private aircraft are housed at Felts, with about 200 landings and takeoffs on an average day.

The T hangar we built is the home to six aircraft in a 32’ x 156’ building. Designed with three 36’ door openings on each side, the building used cantilevered trusses (supported on one end, and at the center) to provide clear-spanned sidewall openings.

Each opening has three 12 foot wide sliding doors, on double tracks. This necessitates having to slide multiple doors in order to get one’s plane out of the hangar. In some cases, one of the doors on an adjacent space would also need to be slid to allow full access to the offending plane. While this did not look to be the optimal situation to me, the owners were dead set upon this as being the design solution, and would hear of no other suggestions.

Once completed, all went along fine…..until it snowed. In Spokane, it can and will snow, sometimes in profuse amounts. While steel roofs will shed snow more rapidly than other types of roofing materials, a fair quantity will build up before it goes WHOOMP as it hits the ground….in front of the sliding doors.

Now the apparent problem (snow sliding off the roof) wasn’t the problem – Felts Field has great snow removal equipment. The problem came BEFORE the snow slid off the roof, when the roof deflected far enough with the weight of the snow to cause the sliding doors to bind up and not open or close.

In the case, the building had height limitations, so the 10 foot tall doors and 11 foot eave height were as tall as we could go. In looking back (if height would not have been a restriction) placing a structural header, such as an LVL (laminated veneer lumber) across the opening to support the weight of the sliding door and the end of the roof trusses with a snow load would have been a great design solution.

Come back tomorrow for more on airplane T hangars.  Obviously I’m having fun with this topic!

Residential Airplane Hangars

My departed ex-father-in-law Carl was a successful hop farmer in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. He and his brother each owned four-passenger Cessna aircraft, and had them in individual hangars on Carl’s farm.

Grass Runway StripCarl’s well-manicured grass strip was one of over 14,000 private airstrips in the United States. While many of these are ancillary to farms (face it, farms often have the available space), more and more neighborhoods are being developed around private runways.

A problem which keeps popping up among folks planning to build residential airpark homes is the size of the hangar and the related building code or fire department regulations. The question usually occurs when building plans are submitted for a structure which includes a hangar of more than 2000 square feet. The plans frequently are rejected or, at the very least, the agency providing the building permit requires the structure to meet commercial construction code limitations. These can include a wide variety of restrictions including requirements for fire retardant interiors, sprinkler systems, explosion proof electric outlets, locations of electrical outlets and much more.

The International Building Code (IBC) addresses specifically requirements for residential hangars (keep in mind, individual permit issuing jurisdiction may amend or waive some or all of these requirements). In order to be considered as a residential airplane hangar, the hangar must meet all three of these criteria:

1)     Must be an accessory building constructed on one or two family residential property.

2)     Be less than 2,000 square feet

3)     Less than 20 feet in height

If not meeting the criteria of a residential hangar, the hangar shall be constructed as a Group S-2 building, which would be for low-hazard storage.

If attached to a dwelling, the hangar shall be separated by walls having a fire-resistance rating of not less than 1-hour. Such separation shall be continuous from the foundation to the underside of the roof and shall be un-pierced except for doors leading to the dwelling unit. Openings from the hangar into a room used for sleeping purposes are not permitted. What you can do is to have the door from the hangar open into a general purpose room, a kitchen, or a hallway.  Those areas can then have a doorway into a sleeping room. These requirements are similar to those of an attached residential garage.

Doors into the dwelling unit which separate the dwelling unit from the residential aircraft hangar must comply with the following:  Equipped with self-closing devices, ¾ hour rated assembly, and a minimum 4” noncombustible raised sill.

If a detached building, the hangar shall require a 1-hour fire-resistance-rated exterior wall if fire separation distance is less than 3 feet from the property line or any other building on the same property.

A hangar shall provide two means of egress. Only one door into the dwelling shall be considered as meeting one of the two means of egress. Most jurisdictions do not accept the hangar door itself as a means of egress.

A minimum of one listed smoke alarm shall be installed within the hangar and shall be interconnected into the residential smoke alarm or other sounding device which will be audible in all sleeping areas of the dwelling. This requirement is applicable to attached and detached residential hangars.

Mechanical and plumbing systems installed within the hangar shall be independent of the systems installed within the dwelling. Building sewer lines may connect outside the structures.

Pole (post frame) buildings make for ideal residential airplane hangars as they allow for large clearspans, are quickly constructed and highly affordable.

Hangar for N3407S

All of the airplane owners have figured out the title already. Those were the call letters for our Dad’s Cessna 182.

When my brother and I were fairly young, our Dad bought a partial interest in a Cessna Skylane. There was nothing like waking up Sunday morning and having Dad ask if we wanted to go out to breakfast…..in Missoula….and we lived in Spokane!

Or the August flights over Schweitzer Basin or Mount Spokane, flying low enough to see if the huckleberries were ripe enough to pick yet.

My all-time favorite trip was the three weeks we spent flying the entire perimeter of the continental United States. Back in 1969, when I was 11, my Dad did all of the takeoffs and landings, but entrusted the balance of the flying to me. While it was probably a big deal, I didn’t think twice about it, as Dad was a good instructor and I was a willing pupil.

The downside of flying….the hangar at Felts Field in Spokane, where the sliding doors were so unwieldy it took much more than a good sized boy to get them open. And, because the door was on the eave side of the building, forget about trying to open the doors after a snow fall.

Cessna SkylineWith a brand new sticker price of around $400,000 – if one can afford the plane, they should better be affording a good place to keep it in a protective hangar.

Hangar space rental costs depend upon the size of the hangar, as well as its location. A hangar space which would fit a Skylane would typically be between 1300 and 1600 square feet with either an asphalt or concrete floor would generally run from $350 to $580 a month. These prices are generally without amenities such as water, electricity or heat.

Generally a Cessna 182 has a wingspan of 36 feet, a length of 29 feet and a height of nine foot and four inches. For ease of comfortable access, a 40 foot wide door with at least 10 feet of clear opening height is probably ideal.

I’ve seen narrower doors used, by “hooking” a wing through the opening. Personally, why go through all of the added efforts?

Read more about hangars in tomorrow’s blog.