I’ve seen a lot of cool hangars with interesting build-outs that include lofts, bars, Jacuzzis, game rooms, theatres, and even a bowling alley. But I’ve seen nothing done way out of the norm with lighting. The most interesting lighting I’ve seen to date, as far as aesthetics are concerned, is out of southeast Wisconsin at the Sturtevant Airport (C89). A private flying club went all-out and put all sorts of lights in the ceiling. It was well done but still didn’t break the mold.
I did come up with an idea that I’ve held pretty close to my chest…until now. I would like to see floor integrated lighting that lights the aircraft (and the rest of the hangar) from below. I’ve not witnessed samples of this in any capacity in aviation and out of it….until now. On a recent trip to service my car at the dealer, I noticed the cars in the showroom had lighting installed in the floor that bathed the underside of the car in warm light. The integrated LED floor lighting would illuminate the chassis, exhaust, suspension and other elements from under the car. The floor tile, with its mirror-like finish, was able to reflect the entire underside of the car to the consumer in magnificent detail. It was an effective marketing tool.
This was it! This is what I was looking for in hangar lighting. It would serve two functions when adapted to the hangar. First, the lighting would serve a cosmetic purpose. LED lights are extremely versatile and can be programmed to fade from one color to the next, vary in intensity, or flash a specified sequence of solid or alternating colors. Imagine what it would look like when seeing a completely dark hangar with a soft glow of light illuminating the underside of the aircraft in warm light from the ground up. The second function LED lights would serve would be through their utility. The lighting could be set to “high” and serve as a tool to provide plentiful lighting when servicing/washing/waxing the underside of the aircraft.
I spoke to the general manager of the car dealer at length regarding their lighting system and he said that the entire control interface is through a dedicated app on their iPad or iPhone. Any setting you could think of could be programmed using either iDevice. Installation did take a lot of time as the lighting was installed as part of a remodel of the dealer showroom.
Integrated floor lighting need not be LED and need not be just in the center of the floor. It could also line the inner perimeter of the hangar and cast light up along the walls towards the ceiling. In addition, if you have a single-panel hydraulic door, you could integrate lighting onto the interior portion, thus when opened, light would shine down from the door overhang. The possibilities are endless.
I passed this idea on two a friend named Adam Burch. He was an engineer with Adam Aircraft and was in charge of the interior cabin and cockpit design from a function and ergonomic standpoint. His primary tool-set is 3D modeling software and was able to create photo-quality renderings of cockpit, cabin interior, and even the aircraft exterior. His work was so good that images of the aircraft flying used in brochures were actually his computer renderings.
I tossed him my idea to see if he could generate an image that captures my mind’s eye and within an hour or so, he sent back the image below. I was blown away. Some people want simple aircraft and simple hangars. But for those that prefer to present a little flair within the hangar, this might be a suitable option.
About Adam Burch
Adam Burch is a pilot, engineer, artist and aviation historian living in Oregon. Please visit his online gallery at http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/adam-burch.html or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.