Since there isn’t any fishing to be had at the moment, here is a little look back at the hangar and the progress we have made. It has been a long journey and a lot of work! If you have been following along through our recent ordeal dealing with our beloved city government and the effort to undermine all our work here, I thought I’d share a photo journey through the past few years.
A look back at the Yakutat WWII Army Hangar since 2007:
One of my favorites from the folks that seek to undermine our efforts has been their complete and total lack of understanding of what is involved in renovating this building. A year ago this month, Yakutat was hit by a 100+mph windstorm that caused one of the big hangar doors to structurally fail. Pieces of rusty metal went flying through a fabric-covered airplane and also damaged one of the metal-skinned planes. The doors are not fixable. There is so little metal left after 70 years of rusting that they can not be salvaged. How much are new doors? Well, actually we have new doors, but DoorTech wants about $500,000 to install them. 1/2 million dollars to install new doors on the hangar. When I announced that the hangar was unsafe for aircraft storage last year, there was yet another whiny complaint to the State of Alaska – that if “he” had been given the lease on the hangar instead of to me, the first thing “he” would have done was secure the doors. Really? Where exactly would that money have come from? It wouldn’t. And nothing else would have been done on the hangar either.
Complaints from other “players” were filed with the state because we were not putting the original windows in. In Byron’s e-mail to our senator and congressman, he states that the building could be maintained with an original period look. This is an echo to the “wrong windows” complaint… To fabricate these windows would cost upwards of $2 million dollars. They would all have to be created by hand and would be cold, wet and would not make the building useable long-term. There was a reason the FAA and Weather Service abandoned the hangar in the mid-70′s. Yep! We’re already $2.5 million into the cost of the building just to change out the hangar doors and the windows. Add at least another million to abate the asbestos… As yet, there wouldn’t be a single dollar spent to renovate the building itself. No wiring, insulation, siding, flooring, sheetrock – anything to make the building useful in any way. And exactly what of the condition of the building?
That photo above looks up at the floor for the old “original” WWII movie theater. The theater operated into the mid-1970′s. In other words, when the city took over the lease and responsibility for the building, this area was fully functional and had been continuously maintained. The above condition is a direct result of the City of Yakutat’s leasing and maintenance of the Yakutat Hangar. They shouldn’t be given the building back, they should be charged with a crime.
Just in case anyone is confused as to what it takes to salvage a building like this, or what it costs, I hope you have a better understanding now. The outside still looks like crap and we haven’t even finished anything yet. We literally have just ONE room done so far! The fly shop. Everything else is a work in progress. We’re a long way from being finished, but guess what! We’re making progress. 30 years of the city and the Powells and the Mallotts being responsible for the hangar, we’re fortunate to still have a building at all. The state was working toward demolition, for the obvious reasons I have tried to illustrate in the photos above.
I’m not perfect. I’m learning as I go. There are things I wish I had done differently and there are things I want to do, but can’t afford to do. I’m giving myself until May, 2016 to be done with the project. That will be the 75th anniversary of the first plane landing at the Yakutat Airbase. I want to have one hell of a celebratory year in 2016, with an incredible building, an incredible museum, incredible shops and businesses, incredible planes…