Pilots fight for historic hangar's preservation - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Pilots fight for historic hangar's preservation

Built in 1941, the hangar sits on Hewes Avenue, along the eastern tip of the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. Hurricane Katrina turned this piece of history into an eyesore. Built in 1941, the hangar sits on Hewes Avenue, along the eastern tip of the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. Hurricane Katrina turned this piece of history into an eyesore.
A group of pilots and veterans is trying to get the airport authority to preserve the hangar and eventually turn it into a museum. A group of pilots and veterans is trying to get the airport authority to preserve the hangar and eventually turn it into a museum.
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

An old hangar that sits deserted at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport faces potential demolition. For many, it's more than an airplane hangar, it's part of their history.

"When I was child on Kelly they used to fly over my house," said pilot Tom Simmons

Simmons remembers watching the planes with wonder.

"At least two nights, as a child, I saw engines burning coming back in and it was an exciting thing to me, and World War II was right here. I grew older, I couldn't shake the desire to fly," said Simmons.

Built in 1941, the hangar sits on Hewes Avenue, along the eastern tip of the airport. Hurricane Katrina turned this piece of history into an eyesore. Now, it's in danger of demolition.

"For five years now, we've been trying to make the airport authority realize the importance and the cultural value of the Mississippi hangar," said pilot Francisco Gonzalez.

Gonzalez is among a group of pilots and veterans trying to get the airport authority to preserve the hangar and eventually turn it into a museum.

"We have evaluated funding sources that might be available to restore it, but what's happened was the funding that was made available by FEMA was not enough," said Airport Director Clay Williams.

Williams said he welcomes the preservation of the hangar, if the money can be found.

"We have a tight budgetary constraints just like other governmental institutes right now," said Williams.

"It's not all about the money. It's about the people behind the money," Gonzalez said. "If we can convince four or five people that this is a worthy cause, then they will come up with the money."

Gonzalez and the others said the hangar is a symbol of Gulfport's history and they won't see it go without a fight.

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