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April 02, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, April 02, 2004

Editorial Editorial (April 02, 2004)

More urgency on Moffett Field's Hangar One

Hangar One, Mountain View's most famous landmark, got a well-deserved boost from a preservation group recently that may help save the historic structure for years to come.

A Silicon Valley icon since the mid-1930s, the 15-story structure was built to house the USS Macon, a Navy airship, and now is one of only two such hangars left in the country. A stroll through Hangar One reminds aviators and anyone else enamored by manned flight of the hundreds of aircraft, including the Macon, that have rested their wings inside its gigantic envelope.

This legacy is well worth saving, and the Mountain View Preservation Alliance added its voice to the process when it nominated Hangar One to America's list of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. The group said it seeks to highlight the significance of the structure and call attention to the pressing need for adequate and timely restoration measures.

It is a worthy goal that can allow history to continue to unfold at Hangar One as it has done since the 1930s. Although plans to house the Spaceworld Hangar One Space and Science Center inside had to be postponed last year when toxic chemicals were found in paint flaking from the structure, the idea remains viable and should not be abandoned.

A quick coat of paint applied by the Navy has stopped the flaking process for now. Now the Navy is studying ways to make the solution permanent, which could take a few more years, but if a solution is found, it will be worth the wait. The challenge will be to keep the hangar healthy while making sure that everything possible is done to qualify it for the nation's various historic lists.

It would be tragic if the Navy somehow let Hangar One slip into irrevocable disrepair. Already, Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Anna Eshoo have urged the Sec. of the Navy to adopt a long-term plan to preserve Hangar One. City and county officials should enthusiastically sign onto this cause and do everything possible to keep the doors of Hangar One open.

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