World War II era hangar restoration nearing completion - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

World War II era hangar restoration nearing completion

Hurricane Katrina left one of the few remaining World War II era hangars barely standing. (Photo source: WLOX) Hurricane Katrina left one of the few remaining World War II era hangars barely standing. (Photo source: WLOX)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

More than ten years after Hurricane Katrina, the Mississippi Gulf Coast is still seeing signs of recovery, including at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport.

Katrina left one of the few remaining World War II era hangars barely standing.

"The roof was completely destroyed and all over the run way. That was one of the first things that we had to clear in order to get the runway operational was the debris," said Lt. Colonel Paul Drake, commander of the Mississippi Air National Guard Base Combat Readiness Training Center.

Earlier this year, construction began to repair this historical landmark owned by the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. Renovation of the exterior, including the instillation of a new roof, is expected to be completed in early 2016.

Once it's finished, the airport will then turn it over to the Air National Guard Base. Drake said having the hangar inside the base boundary will improve security and work flow.

"This hangar is one of the last civilian parts this side of the runway. Actually having that turned over to us allows us to move the fence and encompass this whole side as military. Then there will be one entrance on and off this side of the airport,” said Drake.

The Mississippi Army National Guard will be occupying the hangar. Lt. Colonel Robert McWhirter has several uses in mind.

"We are a regional aviation maintenance facility and this hangar could allow us to potentially expand that. We also have other needs for large areas at times to train the troops that are actually part of the Mississippi National Guard that come here to drill on the weekends," said McWhirter.

When work finishes on the hangar built in the 1940s, just another sign of Katrina's devastation will be eliminated.

"I'm excited about the completion because it's just one less eye sore left on the community, especially the citizens here of Bayou View. It's kind of a constant reminder of what they went through," said Drake.

The estimated $2 million of work on the hangar is being paid for by a grant. Once the outside is finished the National Guard will be responsible for restoring the inside.

Copyright 2015 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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