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Tuesday, Oct 29 2013 06:00 AM

Committee to explore possible restoration of Hangar 1

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Artist and NASA pilot Mark Pestana of Bear Valley speaks to the City Council on Oct. 22 about his sketches of what a restoration of Tehachapi Municipal Airport's Hangar 1 might look like. Emily Brunett / Tehachapi News

A long-awaited project may finally be coming to fruition.

On Oct. 22, the City Council authorized the use of an exploratory committee to conduct a structural study of the Tehachapi Municipal Airport's Hangar 1 and investigate future best uses. The councilmembers also voted to allow spending of up to $5,000 for the venture.

According to a written staff report by City Manager Greg Garrett, city staff and Friends of Tehachapi Airport "feel that it is time to start exploring different paths of restoration on Hangar 1 to protect this wonderful airport asset."

The report outlines the hangar's history. Being the first hangar built at what was Kern County Airport 4, Hangar 1 was constructed in 1939 by Don Frahm. It was used for aircraft storage, maintenance and as a staging area for airplane rides.

Currently, the city uses the hangar for storage.

Possible uses are listed as an event venue, education center, community center, or a transportation museum. Garrett, however, was not keen on the museum idea.

"And I'm not saying museum, it's a restoration project," Garrett said as he explained some of the history of the hangar.

Garrett described the hangar as "another jewel in our bag of jewels," referring to other Tehachapi landmarks, like the Tehachapi Depot Railroad Museum.

Artist and NASA pilot Mark Pestana, a Bear Valley Springs resident, sketched renditions of what a possible renovation could look like. The drawings were on display at the council meeting.

"Basically I just consolidated our ideas and concepts," Pestana said, referring to a group who brainstormed visions for what the hangar could be. "Not just a museum, but an event center, similar to how the Depot is a museum and an event center, and many other things."

Some of the ideas include having the ability to have catered events, an observation tower, an education center and meeting center inside the hangar, and a covered patio.

"It's just a start," Pestana said.

Friends of Tehachapi Airport donated $1,000 toward the study, which will be in addition to the city's $5,000 allocation, Garrett said.

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