Tustin Blimp Hanger
I always try and find the perfect shot of these hangars during stormy days. This is one of the two abandoned blimp hangers located in Tustin, CA. The hanger is 1,088 feet long, 178 feet high and 297 feet wide. Read about the history below.
The Air Station was established in 1942 as Naval Air Station Santa Ana, a base for airship operations in support of the United States Navy's coastal patrol efforts during World War II. NAS Santa Ana was decommissioned in 1949. In 1951, the facility was reactivated as Marine Corps Air Station Santa Ana to support the Korean War. It was the country's first air facility developed solely for helicopter operations. It was renamed Marine Corps Air Station Tustin in 1970.
During the Vietnam War, the base was a center for on-going testing of radar installations which were erected, tested, disassembled and shipped to Vietnam. It also was a training facility for helicopter pilots.
By the early 1990s, MCAS Tustin was a major center for Marine Corps helicopter aviation on the Pacific Coast. Its primary purpose was to provide support services and material for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and for other units utilizing the base. About 4,500 residents once lived on the base, and the base employed nearly 5,000 military personnel and civilians. In addition to providing military support, MCAS Tustin leased 530 acres (2.1 km2) to farmers for commercial crop development. For many years, agricultural lands surrounded the facility. However beginning in the 1980s residential and light industrial/manufacturing areas developed adjacent to the station.
In 1991 and again in 1993, under the authority of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990, it was announced that MCAS Tustin would be closed. Operational closure of the base occurred in July 1999. However, the north hangar is still used as a storage and repair center for commercial blimps. Of the approximately 1,600 acres (6.5 km2), some 1,294 acres (now known collectively as "Tustin Legacy") have been conveyed to the City of Tustin, private developers and public institutions for a combination of residential, commercial, educational, and public recreational and open-space uses. The remaining 300-plus acres will be conveyed to other federal agencies, the City of Tustin and public institutions for the same uses once environmental clean-up operations have been concluded.
In 1993, the blimp hangars were designated National Civil Engineering Landmarks by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). There have been talks regarding making one of the blimps a military museum.
The site of the base is now the home of the academy of the Orange County Sheriff's Department. Much of the former base has become residential housing.