News

Google execs offer to save Hangar One

NASA HQ has no word on offer after two months

"Why doesn't Google pay for it?" has been the sort of comment often made by those frustrated by the years-long struggle to save landmark Hangar One at Moffett Field. But on Thursday it was announced that the principals of Google are willing to do just that.

Potentially saving taxpayers $32.8 million, the proposal to restore and lease the iconic 200-foot-tall structure was publicly announced Thursday night by Ken Ambrose, director of H211 LLC, which runs a fleet of private jets out of Moffett Field for Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin, and chairman Eric Schmidt.

As its toxic siding is stripped off in a U.S. Navy-led environmental cleanup, Ambrose told a subcommittee of the Moffett Field Restoration Advisory Board that Google's leaders would pay 100 percent of the cost to restore the hangar and the shell in return for a long-term lease to use it for the Google leaders' eight planes, including two jumbo jets and several Gulfstream jets, which have been based at Moffett since 2007.

"It appears to be the only thing going, to save the hangar," said Lenny Siegel, a longtime leader of the effort to save Hangar One, who in the past has questioned the special agreement with H211. "That said, I still believe the federal government should pay for restoration of the hangar."

The White House's Office of Management and Budget has taken the financial onus for Hagar One's restoration off the Navy's hands and put it on Hangar One's current owner, NASA. But President Obama's $32 million request to restore the hangar for NASA now appears to have little support in Congress, where subcommittees in the House and Senate have removed it from the budget. The proposal was sharply criticized in an Inspector General's report that said "mission critical" NASA projects would be delayed to restore a building with no proposed use.

Ambrose called the current governmental dysfunction that endangers the historic hangar "unfortunate drama."

"I feel a real sense of urgency with the bones exposed," Ambrose said of the stripped frame. Whether or not the $12 million dollars worth of scaffolding inside of the hangar could be reused to restore the hangar "could be the difference" between it being financially feasible or not, he said.

Siegel said he has known about the proposal for several months, but decided to ask Ambrose to pitch the proposal to the public because it's not been a slam-dunk. It has been two months since the proposal was made and despite support from NASA Ames Research Center, where Hangar One is located, there has been no response from NASA headquarters in Washington D.C. "They are in radio silence," Ambrose said.

"Things have gotten to the point that NASA headquarters has become uncooperative and the community needs to be heard," Siegel said.

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, who has consistently pushed for Hangar One's restoration, has sent three letters to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in support of the H211 proposal since late October, and has also heard nothing back. She adds that the offer could save Hagar One from demolition, save tax dollars and mentions that the Mayor of Sunnyvale supports the offer as well.

Ambrose said local NASA officials at Ames Research Center have supported the proposal, which would strengthen a partnership that Google has with NASA. Google division "planetary ventures" is working to organize NASA's archives. "At Ames everyone we've talked to says 'that's a great concept,'" Ambrose said.

In a unique agreement that allows use of the federal airfield for personal flights, the Google exec's planes have been stored in Hangar 211 at Moffett since 2007 under a $1.3 million a year lease agreement that allows use of the aircraft for NASA's scientific work. There have been no noise complaints about the planes, Ambrose said.

Siegel speculated that the proposal could be seen as a threat to some in Washington D.C. who want to see NASA Ames' Moffett airfield, where Hangar One sits, sold or surplussed by the federal government. There may also be some concern from the White House about the appearance of doing a favor for President Obama's supporters at Google. RAB co-chair and former Ames administrator Bill Berry said he was concerned that political "pot shots" would be taken at the proposal.

While supportive and open to the H211 proposal, RAB members expressed concerns at the meeting about whether Hangar One could still be shared with public uses. Preservationists seemed less concerned that Google's leaders were interested in working with the community for an environmentally sensitive restoration, later saying in a letter to NASA that "restoration will meet historic preservation standards" under the H211 plan. Ambrose confirmed that Google's leaders aren't interested in painting a large Google sign on the side.

Inside Hangar One, Ambrose also said Google's proposed use is "not incompatible" with other uses that could share one of the world's largest freestanding structures. Other potential uses include the Moffett Field History Museum and the major air and space museum that preservationists (who are also RAB members) have proposed under the Air and Space West Foundation.

In its letter to NASA headquarters, the RAB subcommittee writes, "We believe that our neighbors, residents of the South Bay Area from all political perspectives, will not hesitate to support the H211 offer enthusiastically."

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by JOhn
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 9, 2011 at 1:02 am

They should rebuild the hanger so all the 1% can park their planes right next to home and


 +   Like this comment
Posted by HangarOneFan
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 9, 2011 at 3:56 am

Yes Virgina, there is a Santa Claus!!!! THANK YOU GOOGLE :-)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by James Hoosac
a resident of another community
on Dec 9, 2011 at 9:38 am

This is a trap. A bunch of Hanger One fanatics colluding with the super-riches to deny huge public benefit to the citizens of Mountain View, Sunnyvale and Bay Area.

The Google founders will get a cheap and easy-access airplane storage facility. Not bad for them, of course. But we, the public, will lose the massive economic benefit that can be generated when the land is freed. The benefit for our schools, for our infrastructure, etc.

There is no chance a true large scale museum can be built. The federal government cannot take on the humongous legal liability for such a hazardous site. The Google founders are not stupid to take on that liability either. All of that is just smoke, pie in the sky.

NASA should deny the proposal, tear down Hanger One, give the land back to local municipalities, and let the local citizens vote and make their own decisions about what to do with the land.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Roxie
a resident of Whisman Station
on Dec 9, 2011 at 10:00 am

It's about time someone, in this case Google, did the right thing. Too bad the US Government wouldn't step up to the plate. Hangar One is a listed Naval Historic Monument and represents part of our country's history. $32M or whatever it's going to cost the re-skin the hangar, is a DROP IN THE BUCKET for the US Military - how much have we spent in the last 10 years in the middle east????? Hundreds of Billions of dollars.

@James - give it a rest. Americans don't flock to Europe to see 5 year old low income housing or office buildings - we flock there to see HISTORY ... buildings that are hundreds of years old and tell a story. That's what Hangar One is ... HISTORY.

Thank you Google for doing the right thing, even if your motives are completely altruistic.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Roxie
a resident of Whisman Station
on Dec 9, 2011 at 10:05 am

Update: my last sentence had a typo ... should read: "... even if your motives aren't comletely altruistic." emphasis on "aren't".


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Litsa
a resident of Rex Manor
on Dec 9, 2011 at 10:16 am

Goo job Google. Hangar One is a landmark and needs to be restored and kept.
Even though you guys are buying it to use, as an over sized garage.



 +   Like this comment
Posted by Realist
a resident of Rex Manor
on Dec 9, 2011 at 10:24 am

"'Why doesn't Google pay for it?' has been the sort of comment often made by those frustrated by the years-long struggle to save landmark Hangar One"

It seems like that is the question asked by various commenters on this site for just about every local issue that is underfunded.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 9, 2011 at 2:23 pm

@Roxie and we Europeans find it quaint watching you Americans walk around staring wide eyed at a bunch of old buildings while bad mouthing your own country.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Goetz
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 9, 2011 at 2:57 pm

@Peter, you don't speak for all Europeans...not by a stretch. Many of us very much treasure our history and our historic places. Some ex-pats, it seems, have become more American than European in their lack of ability to see the benefit of historical places. Please don't imply the rest of us are in agreement with your snarky comments.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by vfree
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 9, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Thank you Google. Now, if the City and Washington DC will get out of your way, we may be able to enjoy Hangar 1 as it was meant to be. From a distance, viewed from the air and surrounding foothills.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dr. Collateral
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 9, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Dr. Collateral is a registered user.

I will be a steak dinner that the same people begging Google execs to save Hanger One in exchange for exclusive hanger rights will get all bent out of shape once said execs start flying their jets in and out of Moffett.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Dec 9, 2011 at 4:33 pm

AC is a registered user.

James Hoosac: I'm a resident, voter, and local citizen; and I am glad to see the land devoted to historical purposes. There might be some others who are too...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by George
a resident of Rex Manor
on Dec 9, 2011 at 4:40 pm

I miss the sound of P-3s landing overhead. I really do... So if Google can bring back some of yesteryear, let them.

Damn, if they are zillionaires, so what. They make the country run. and if they need/want a parking spot for their planes, again so what. Let us allow the Capitlist system work.. if you don't friggen like, get a job and join in. Stop whining about people/companies that make the money... they make our world.
Thanks Google.. you have my vote. I'm one of the maybe "2 % ers, and I want to move up. Mr. President, please go back to your socialist republic of Illinois and let free capitolism work.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ann
a resident of another community
on Dec 9, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Bravo to google..and a big heartfelt thank you...way to go..god bless America..


 +   Like this comment
Posted by gcoladon
a resident of North Whisman
on Dec 9, 2011 at 6:00 pm

gcoladon is a registered user.

This sounds like a great way to save the otherwise doomed Hangar One.

I would like to point out that we should not be thanking Google the company for this offer. Rather, we should be thanking Messers Page, Brin and Schmidt, and it appears to be the case that they would be paying for this project out of their personal fortunes, not out of the Google treasury.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Nikonbob
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 9, 2011 at 6:12 pm

@James Hoosac - so what do you propose the community would be able to do with the land that is basically a toxic nightmare, as far as development goes. Housing, schools, commercial development? Not likely given the costs to clean it up.

Having Google restore the landmark in exchange for using it to park their planes seems like a pretty good deal to me.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by The Eye
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 9, 2011 at 6:26 pm

The Eye is a registered user.

If this would mean that the air shows would return to Moffett, and that the occasional historic plane or two will still be visiting the tarmac for visitors to experience, I have no problem with it. If it simply becomes a quaint rich boys toybox to park their planes, with a "no visitors allowed policy", then I say forget it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Retired Navy
a resident of another community
on Dec 9, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Great idea for Google to pay for the rehab. My only concern with Google leasing the hanger is that their should be a way for visitors to the Moffett museum be able to see the inside after
Google takes over. Maybe a small viewing platform on the west side could be constructed as part of the rehab.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Doug Pearson
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 9, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Google!!!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sabrina
a resident of The Crossings
on Dec 10, 2011 at 12:37 am

I am thankful that Google cares enough about historic landmarks to bargain for a cheap place to park their private jets so their execs can stay as far away from the 99% as possible (and I quote William Graham Sumner, "who ARE the poor?!").

However, I find it troubling that the only way we can save a major historic landmark in America nowadays is through private investment. Quite Orwellian, or maybe a bit more like The Prisoner? With the Google primary colors and all. But, then, I suppose we the majority should be grateful for the scraps we are granted.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tyler
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 10, 2011 at 7:24 am

Impressive. We can save a useless hanger, but can't save public education.

Mark my words. Google will turn this into a profitable arrangement. What's in the fine print about Google being able to expand its airfield operations? Is the land thrown in as well? Does this mean the airfield is here to stay?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by IDriveBy
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 10, 2011 at 9:15 am

Larry, Sergey, and Eric are spending their personal fortunes as a group, because they, like so many of us who share the Valley with them, didn't want an a piece of history to disappear.

Spending $10 million dollars a piece, or more, is more generous than any one else that has posted on this board. It was amazing when the reporter asked well how much, and Ken leaned forward, smiled and said 100%. This is no game, they are committed! It's really happening, if DC will allow it. NASA HQ is so tied up in knots that they won't let them help, so it seems.

They have offered to work with an adjoining proposed center who is also working with the Moffett History Museum. Those of us that went to the meeting the other night heard this discussed as well.

They may have been luckier than I in their business's life, but I love that they as individuals care about the history and community they live in.

Cheers!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greg David
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 10, 2011 at 10:24 am

This sounds like a perfect solution. His point about leveraging the existing scaffolding really makes sense. It can be done much cheaper if it is done sooner. As for their aircraft, they will only use a fraction of the space. There will be plenty of room for the historic society's aircraft and hopefully much more. How about Littlefield's tanks?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by HangarOneFan
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 10, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Come on NASA HQ in Washington D.C. ! Why the silence?! Time is of the essence. The siding is half removed and the scaffolding is still in place. How about another petition to urge support for the generous offer from the Google execs?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 12, 2011 at 1:13 am

Reviewing these comments, I now see why this country is in the pathetic condition it is in.

San Jose, 2011 = Detroit, 1962

Mountain View, 2011 = Flint, 1962


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mr. Big
a resident of North Whisman
on Dec 13, 2011 at 1:33 am

Let Google front the money to restore Hanger One now while the scaffolding is available.
1. It will create jobs quickly
2. It will preserve the skeleton from weathering
3. It will remove the eyesore of Hanger One without a skin

Conditions the city should put in:
1. The city, NASA or Feds can rescind the deal at anytime by paying back a predetermined cost to Google.
2. Hanger One would used for any emergency the city, NASA or Fed's may need to the exclusion the Google aircraft without any refund for the duration of the emergency.
3. Google must assist in the airfield operation and upkeep of the runways.
4. If Moffett Field is chosen as a World's Fair location then the Google aircraft would need to move out for the duration.
5. A plan must be developed to allow the airfield to become available for evacuation of Mountain View residents by civilian aircraft should a major emergency occur.
6. Must use US made components for any restoration.

If they do all that, I'm OK with them putting up a giant sign on the side saying "Restoration of Hanger One paid for by Google" for a few years.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by QM
a resident of North Whisman
on Dec 13, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Hello? H211 they already have the nose under the tent...
Thank you Mr. DeBolt

Google execs' fighter jet is no toy, NASA says

by Daniel DeBolt
Mountain View Voice Staff



The fighter jet brought quietly to Moffett Field a few months ago isn't a toy for Google executives, say NASA officials, but in fact will help the agency collect atmospheric data and fight wildfires.

But some observers remain skeptical, noting that the jet, while luucrative for NASA Ames, has yet to collect any data.

The European-built Dornier Alpha Jet, a sleek two-seater capable of 600 miles per hour, is one of five planes belonging to H211 LLC, a company owned by Google executives Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Eric Schmidt. Besides the Alpha Jet, H211's fleet includes two jumbo jets stationed at Moffett and two Gulfstream Vs stationed at San Jose Airport.

Officials say the Alpha Jet, however, can do what the other planes cannot: fulfill the terms of a lease with NASA Ames, signed in August 2007, that allows H211's private planes to land at Moffett Federal Airfield. In exchange, the company pays NASA more than $1.3 million a year and lets the agency outfit its planes with scientific instruments.

NASA officials admitted Monday that so far no special scientific instruments have been fitted to any H211 planes, after hundreds of flights and more than year of allowing them to fly out of Moffett. The only equipment used on them thus far is handheld cameras, said Steve Zornetzer, deputy director of NASA Ames, in an e-mail.

The cameras were used to take footage of the Aurigid meteor shower on Aug. 31, 2007 for the SETI Institute. That was the last scientific mission for H211.

As for the money, it already helped NASA Ames close a $7 million deficit for Moffett runway operations last year, Zornetzer said. The Alpha Jet brings even more revenue for NASA Ames, he said, although he wouldn't give specifics.

Zornetzer added that failing to pay for runway operations could threaten Ames' control of the runway -- a bad development for local residents given the Federal Aviation Administration's eagerness to allow cargo flights there.

But Lenny Siegel, director of the Center for Public Environmental Oversight, a group involved with Moffett's restoration, thought the arrangement could be setting a bad precedent.

"If anyone can use the airfield to help Ames overcome its deficit, who knows what will end up there," he said.

City Hall officials were less vigorous in their criticism. Council member Jac Siegel said the issue is between Ames and Google. Council member Laura Macias expressed concern, saying the arrangement is "not something that I can feel really good about."

When dealing with local businesses, she said, "It's always a balance. I think in this case it's a little bit too cozy."

The existance of H211's Alpha Jet was revealed publicly for the first time in a Voice story last week. Zornetzer said the jet was purchased in December 2007 after it was realized that H211's other planes couldn't be modified, due to FAA regulations, to hold the scientific equipment required under the lease agreement. For technical reasons, the FAA restrictions don't apply to the Alpha Jet.

The fact that four of the five H211 planes won't serve much of a purpose to NASA's mission won't keep them out of Moffett, Zornetzer said. According to the original lease agreement, the planes were supposed to be fitted with the scientific instruments by August of this year.

Zornetzer said the Alpha Jet is now undergoing a major revamp -- resulting in a quieter engine and a payload of instruments built and paid for by NASA -- before it begins flights out of Moffett this spring. It has been in Seattle off and on to receive the modifications, he said.

"This particular Alpha Jet is being converted from military to civilian use," he said. "Its turbo-fan engine will be stage III compliant; it will not be noisy when done."

Atmospheric data from the Alpha Jet's payload will be collected by the earth science division at NASA Ames led by Stephen Hipskind. The plane can fly in and out of Moffett as the Google executives see fit. Zornetzer noted that H211 made up only 1 percent of the 19,000 flights in and out of Moffett last year.

The Alpha Jet's NASA payload will also include equipment to collect data on wildfires: high resolution cameras, hyper-spectral analysis instruments and an infrared detector. NASA has an unmanned aircraft called the Ikhana that collects similar data.

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Comments
Posted by permission?us?, a resident of the North Whisman neighborhood, on Oct 23, 2008 at 4:30 pm

Don't be silly-Google can do ANYthing they want.....

Report Objectionable Content

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Posted by Rez, a resident of the The Crossings neighborhood, on Oct 23, 2008 at 6:13 pm

What Google wants, Google gets....

Report Objectionable Content

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Posted by gaetan, a resident of another community, on Oct 24, 2008 at 11:22 am

The AlphaJet was NOT a "Fighter" but a advanced trainer aricraft, and the jet of the famoust "Patrouille de France" (French Flight Demonstration Squadron)

Report Objectionable Content

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Posted by JimF, a resident of another community, on Oct 24, 2008 at 11:29 am

Are there any people on earth that create more pollution than Google's founders?





Report Objectionable Content


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Dec 14, 2011 at 11:00 am

I love the ideal of Google leasing Hanger One, would love to see the Worlds Fair come to Moffett. Hanger One can either be Google Pavilion or the Main Pavilion, which i am from Google being able to put up their colored letters. So many ideals for Hanging One, future uses should be meeting space, event center, edcuation uses for Google. In the meantime parking planes will do, hope they will have a viewing center.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by consider stakeholders
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Dec 16, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Yep, Hanger or no hanger I think we should rehabilitate the toxic airfield for sustainable current and future uses including housing, organic agriculture, energy farming through solar collection, experimenting with a car-free residential neighborhood, habitat restoration.... I'd want a real environmental lab out there precisely because we've wrecked it and shouldn't just give up.

We can leave the hanger and the entire facility healthier and cleaner than we found it. There are families living there right now who could really use a better, healthier place to live. The bay, marsh, water, kids and dependent seniors are the silent stakeholders here. What's best for them? Preserving toxic waste or transforming historical waste into viable living structures and environments?

Why do we keep arguing about the elephant when the land and water are dropping out from under us due to our own waste.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kris R,
a resident of another community
on Dec 22, 2011 at 12:44 am

For those who are upset over this offer, may I remind you of the following:

1.) The site is a federal toxic superfund site. To use it as a hangar would actually HELP keep the plume from spreading.

2.) This is my no means a CHEAP option for Google. The hangar space they already rent costs big bucks. NASA would essentially get revenue from H211 for renting the space (Potentially millions per year) that can go to the Historic District, hangar maintenance, Ames and the local community.

H211 requested only about 2/3 of the hangar space for aircraft in the proposal. The the remaining 1/3 of Hangar One could fit a WalMart in it...literally.

This is a MAJOR WIN for everyone involved. New NAVY and GAO report says it's more expensive to tear it down anyway - so let's get started while the economy is down and contracting bids will be cheaper!

And for all the "Well, there goes the 1% getting to use it for whatever they want." They're saving a piece of aviation history, reusing it for aviation purposes AND pumping more money into AMES. What's NOT to like, here?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tinker Bell
a resident of another community
on Jan 5, 2012 at 1:42 pm

I think the 32.8 million is just to re-side the hanger. I'm sure the cost to bring it up to code, install sprinklers, upgrade electrical, up grade motors for the hanger door, and so on, will cost the tax payers far more than the cost of re-siding.


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