Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Little History is Passing: The Old Saginaw Airfield Is About Gone

Things change around us in the blink of an eye. Last July I was headed into Saginaw to have breakfast at JR's. The sun was in my eyes, and as I moved east on McLeroy past Knowles Street I sensed something was different at the old airport.  Something was missing.  Something was new.

Hangar at Saginaw Airport East End ~ Click to Zoom
What was missing was the older yellow brick house, its garage and the outbuildings around what had been the airport center. In the space of a week, everything was changed. What was new was the hangar.  Not  really new, but you never could really see it before because of the clutter.  It struck me as impressive, in a way.  I stopped and pulled into the driveway for some pictures.

2001 ~ Looking north.  McLeroy Street in foreground..
I have lived west of Saginaw since about 1997 and am into and out of the town several times a week, sometimes several times a day. I knew that the field had been built in about 1945 by a man named McNeil. The land had been sold for development several years ago. The paved runway had been plowed up and the T-Hangers on both sides had been taken down with one exception. 

Hanger East Side ~ Click to Zoom

Now on this day there is just the big hanger. However, that hangar took on a whole new dimension without the clutter around it. The place almost becomes an Aerodrome in the classic sense. Built of common materials it still becomes a little stately in its appearance. Solid. It has seen the best and worst of aircraft and probably some that were unique or improbable. Just picture a stagger-wing Model 17 Beechcraft in front of it, or a big radial engined Cessna 195.  

West Elevation ~ Click to Zoom
I talked to the man who rents the hanger and he told me he thought the owner had the rest of the buildings pulled down and plowed under because they were in bad shape and there were some liability problems. He said he had no idea of what was in the future for the old hanger, but that it was serving his purposes nicely.

There is one old building remaining to the west of the big hangar. It's a closed shed hangar that has been used occasionally for "estate sales", but everything else around it is gone.

Old Hangar Facing McLeroy ~ Click to zoom
I suppose it it hopeless to think that someone might come up with some way to save the big old hangar and use it without too much change. At 65+ years old it could be considered historic in a technical sense, but I have an idea that the land is probably zoned commercial and if the economy ever turns around,  then we'll see it disappear overnight as well.

I'll enjoy it while I can..

Here's' the whole story on the airport history from the Abandoned Airfields website...

All images from The Electric Books Collection

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