Conservancy gives Airport-in-the-Sky hangar a facelift

The hangar at the Airport-in-the-Sky was recently treated to a fresh coat of white paint and general refurbishment.

Most of the work was completed the week after Christmas.“The pilots are pleased,” said Jorge O’Leary, director of airport operations. “It’s very attractive and goes a long way in keeping the airport spiffed up.”

The hangar overhaul follows runway repaving completed in June.

Painting and landscape improvements around the terminal building have also been implemented this year.

The hangar at the Airport-in-the-Sky was recently treated to a fresh coat of white paint and general refurbishment.

Most of the work was completed the week after Christmas.“The pilots are pleased,” said Jorge O’Leary, director of airport operations. “It’s very attractive and goes a long way in keeping the airport spiffed up.”

The hangar overhaul follows runway repaving completed in June.

Painting and landscape improvements around the terminal building have also been implemented this year.

The five original weather-beaten front-sliding doors were replaced with new, galvanized steel panels in addition to much-needed refurbishment to the roof of the 10,000-square-foot hangar, situated across the parking lot from the terminal.

Broken windows are also being replaced and their frames refurbished and painted.

 “Welcome to Catalina Island” was painted in a blue retro-script style above the doors along with “Airport in the Sky” in red and the Catalina Island Conservancy logo on the middle door.

The airport’s stats appeared above the doors: “Runway Length 3,000 ft.” and “Elevation 1,602 ft.”

A gift from Conservancy board member Geoff Rusack and Conservancy benefactor Alison Wrigley Rusack supported this improvement and others at the Airport.

“It came out beautifully,” Conservancy President and CEO Ann Muscat said.

“We very much appreciate the support of our donors and the hard work of our staff in helping to insure that pilots and guests up from Avalon will enjoy visiting the airport all the more,” Muscat said.

Aviation on Catalina Island has a long and illustrious history that was marked by the first cross-channel flight in 1912 by Glenn Martin.

The first airport was constructed in 1931 at Hamilton Cove, in Avalon.

It was designed for seaplanes that would “land” just offshore.

The pilots would lower their wheels and then drive the plane up a ramp where they parked on a “lazy-susan” type mechanism that would turn the plane around until it faced the channel, ready for its flight back.

In August 1940, the Santa Catalina Island Company began construction of the runway.

The tops of two mountains were blasted away and then three canyons filled in to create a runway with an unusual grade change from the south end to the north.

Construction of the runway ceased after the outbreak of World War II. The airport was leased to the U.S. Army.

The army placed numerous obstacles on the pavement to deter any possible landings by enemy aircraft.

After the war, the airport’s beautiful administration building and tower were completed and became the terminal for United Airlines that serviced the Island with DC-3 service until the mid 1950s.

For years, the Wrigley family kept their DC-3 in the very same building that was recently given a facelift.

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