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3 Pioneers Who Influenced The Modern Aircraft Hangar

The best aircraft hangar buildings are robust, durable, easy to install where they are needed and with a level of modularity that allows them to be modified based on the needs of the airfield and pilots that use them.

Most hangars used today follow a similar, robust kit-build system based on the types of aircraft intended to be stored in them, but the path to the modern modular steel structure had to begin somewhere.

Technically, the first ever aircraft hangar of any kind was at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina and was used to store the Wright Flyer that the Wright Brothers used to make history and prove sustained flight was possible.

However, three other aviation pioneers paved the way for the hangar as we know it today.

Alliott Verdon Roe

The first Englishman to build and fly an aircraft, Sir Alliott Verdon Roe built one of the first aeroplane sheds (as they were called at the time) at Brooklands Circuit, the world’s first purpose-built racing circuit as well as one of the first airfields in Britain.

Sir Alliot started his flight experiments in 1907 at Brooklands, building the first aeroplane shed in England for the purpose. Eventually, he would move away from Brooklands, but this did not stop the race course from becoming a central point for early flight in Britain.

Sir Aliott would later found Avro, creators of the 504 biplane and later the Lancaster Bomber, although this would be after its eponymous founder had moved on.

Carl Richard Nyberg

The inventor of the blowtorch, Carl Richard Nyberg was an exceptionally early pioneer in aviation, starting construction on the Flugan aircraft as early as 1897.

It is rather strange, therefore, that he took until 1908 to finally build a hangar for it, which might predate Sir Alliott’s Brooklands hangar and would therefore be the first dedicated aircraft hanger in the world.

Unfortunately, despite being worked on for 25 years, the Flugan never actually flew, despite having a more powerful engine than the Wright Flyer, only managing a few small hops and receiving much mockery despite his considerable contributions to aviation infrastructure.

The hangar, based in Lidingo, Sweden, still exists today as a monument to early aviation in the country, and with the benefit of hindsight, its relatively narrow walls were something of an omen, although the sum of its parts was more than the whole when it came to the hangar’s legacy.

Louis Bleriot

Arguably the greatest influence on modern hangers was also the most accidental example of a pioneer out there.

A daring, exceptional inventor who pioneered the first car headlamps and the modern aircraft controls of rudder pedal and joystick, Louis Bleriot was determined to build a craft that could cross the English Channel.

Whilst he initially set up his base at an abandoned Channel Tunnel base in Sangatte, his next base of operations would be chosen by fate.

On a test flight between Sangatte and Calais of the monoplane concept that he planned to use to fly to England, he managed to crash into a farm in the small village of La Baraques.

By a rather interesting turn of fate, he turned the stricken craft into the farmer’s unused cattle pen and realised that the design of the building was perfect for storing a plane.

He ultimately set up his base in the makeshift aeroplane shed and would on 25th July 1909 complete his crossing of the English Channel, crash landing near Dover Castle on top of the White Cliffs of Dover.


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