Tucked away in the southeast corner of Midwest airport is a hangar owned by “Trish” Horn. Relatively new to the pilot community earning her Private just five years ago, she has quickly established herself as one of her airport’s most enthusiastic aviators. She and her husband own 1947 and 1950 Ercoupes, a 2002 Cirrus SR22 and are eagerly awaiting arrival of their amphibious ICON A5. In July 2010, she and her husband purchased a 10-year-old hangar to facilitate their growing fleet of aircraft and planned an incredible renovation.
Originally, the single level hangar lived up to traditional expectations with a large hangar door, garage door, bathroom, heat and water. With three aircraft and a fourth on the way, the storage area provided ample space but little in the way of creature comforts and other resources.
The hangar was structurally perfect and provided the ultimate blank canvas. Trish began sketching out ideas that included a pilot’s lounge, flight planning station, full bathroom with shower and Jacuzzi bathtub, kitchen and several other features. When complete, this renovation would convert this boring cube into a facility that goes well beyond the traditional role of simply storing aircraft.
With assistance from her architect, Trish was able to add an additional 900 square feet without altering the original 68’ x 80’ hangar dimension or sacrificing any significant amount of aircraft parking space. This feat was accomplished by adding a second story within the existing structure. The second story was designed to accommodate the aforementioned features with a contemporary style.
Over the next 10 months, Trish’s contemporary vision began to take shape. Access to the mezzanine is granted through a set of “Floating Stairs” along the east wall of the hangar. Steps are made of natural maple and guardrails made of stainless-steel cabling. At the top of the landing, you will find yourself directly in the middle of the second level. Her vision of the stairway came to life “providing an artistic visual impact.”
Once on the second level, the theme of the stairway carries through to the remainder of the new structure. Contemporary maple and glass doors and matching trim accentuate the entryway in each room. Every room, except the bathroom, has an unobstructed view of the aircraft below as each is outfitted with numerous, oversized windows.
All of these windows serve a second purpose. In collaboration with all these interior windows, Trish had two additional exterior windows installed on the north and south wall of the hangar. Together, these windows allow natural sunlight to permeate through the entire second level and spill over to the main hangar floor. Even with the main hangar lights “off,” there was still adequate light to take pictures.
Divided into five primary areas, the entire second floor is there to provide resources for the pilot. The first area is a quiet room for rest, relaxation and/or reading. Adjacent to the quiet room is a bathroom complete with ceramic tile floor, Jacuzzi tub with shower and tray ceiling. Located in a nook in the hallway is a flight planning station with a place to keep maps, logbooks, computer, iPads and other supplies.
Arguably the most important two rooms are the kitchen and lounge. Stainless-steel appliances, gas range and cherry cabinetry adorn the kitchen while the lounge is equipped with leather furniture accented with riveted aircraft aluminum. The coffee table is made of clear glass with a base consisting of two military grade ammunition boxes (empty of course!).
The kitchen and the lounge may be the two most important rooms, but the coolest feature has to be the deck that overlooks the aircraft below. The deck mirrors the same construction materials as the “floating stairs” with blond maple and stainless-steel cabling as a guardrail. Trish took the final finish a step further and inlaid two long planks of cherry among all the blonde maple to represent a runway. “18” and “36” are placarded on the south and north ends of the “runway” to add the final touch.
Opposite the mezzanine on the western wall of the hangar is a solid white wall that stretches from floor to ceiling. This white wall will serve as a screen for a planned high definition projector for special “theater at the hangar” parties or whatever the occasion might call for.
Many other features were incorporated into the hangar renovation but were not easily discernible. The main floor is now equipped with a 30-square-foot storage room, a 30-square-foot bathroom in addition to the one upstairs, a washer and dryer for oily shop rags and an area designated for the future installation of an elevator.
The finished product is quite the spectacle. It is contemporary with an eye for design yet extremely functional even for the most demanding pilot. Non-pilots even appreciate the hangar as one of Trish’s friends has asked to have her wedding reception there. Other parties are planned with an open house on the 4th of July and we are all invited! OK, maybe not all of us.
With the project complete, Trish was able to comment on some key elements that might benefit others considering a similar project. Trish expressed how easy it was to work with the local airport authority. The only unforeseen building code requirement was that everything had to be built to commercial codes (which explains the “EXIT” signs and some other minor details). No major setbacks took place with the only disappointment, if there was one, being the 10-month duration of the project. The biggest challenges were “being patient and trying to keep all the construction dust off the planes.”