Lit Blimp Hangars
Tom West, Photograph, 1988
Tustin Marine Corps Air Station was first commissioned in 1942 as a base for the Navy's LTA (Lighter Than Air) Blimps.
The two blimp hangars, built at the 1942 cost of $2.5 million each, were the largest unsupported wooden structures in the world. Each hangar stood 18 stories tall — 1,088 feet long, 178 feet high, and 297 feet wide. The hangars were so large that they generate their own weather system inside the buildings.
In 1949, the Air Station was decommissioned for two years and then in response to the Korean conflict it was recommissioned as Marine Corps Air Facility, or MCAF Santa Ana in 1951 for the purpose of training Helicopter Squadrons. The base was again renamed in the 1970's to Marine Corps Air Station (Helicopter) or MCAS(H) Tustin and finally in 1985 to Marine Corps Air Station Tustin.
In 1997, the base was closed as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 1991. Hangar One, now called the North Hangar, was named a National Historical Landmark and the plan is that it will be preserved by the County of Orange. Hangar Two, now known as the, South Hangar, was slated to be torn down in deference to fiscal and commercial pressures but the city of Tustin is still investigating possible uses in an effort to preserve it.
The photograph of the lit blimp hangars was taken by Paul's friend Tom West who has recently passed away. See Paul's tribute to Tom in his painting of Yosemite's Half Dome.
High quality poster print
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see also text: Mammoth Structures