Against a backdrop of civilian aircraft, including a sporty red biplane, parked side-by-side with military planes, a group of local dignitaries gathered Friday morning to officially open the new joint-use hangar at Enid Woodring Regional Airport.
The $561,000, 120-by-120-foot hangar will house civil aircraft, as well as T-1s and T-6s from Vance Air Force Base, either for security reasons or to protect them from severe weather. If a proposed expansion of the airport’s main runway takes place, the hangar also could accommodate T-38s, which currently can’t land at Woodring because of insufficient runway length.
T-1s and T-6s from Vance routinely land at Woodring and remain overnight, particularly during weekend operations. In addition, visiting civilian planes park at Woodring overnight.
“Two years ago, this was just a dream, just a thought,” said Dan Ohnesorge, Woodring manager. “We needed what we thought was a large hangar to be able to put lots of aircraft in in a short period of time. I had come out a couple of times myself late at night with a couple of guys dragging airplanes into hangars just before hailstones started to hit.”
The joint-use hangar has large doors at either end, Ohnesorge said, so aircraft can be rapidly moved inside in advance of a storm. The hangar is large enough to accommodate nine T-6s, five T-1s or eight T-38s, Ohnesorge said.
“This thing is huge,” he said. “It’s huge for us, it’s huge for our military partners over at Vance Air Force Base.”
Funding the hangar was a joint effort between the city and state. The city of Enid spent $228,000 on the hangar, while another $330,000 came from the Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission.
“It is in the best interest of aviation, of the Air Force, of the community of Enid, and it is very good for the state of Oklahoma,” said Rita Aragon, state secretary for Veterans’ Affairs and a member of OSMPC. “All of it happened because everyone came together and said, ‘Make it so,’ and it is.”
Enid Mayor Bill Shewey said he normally refers to projects like the joint-use hangar as “a win-win situation.” But not this time.
“This is a win-win-win situation,” he said. “The city of Enid wins with this hangar, the state of Oklahoma wins with this hangar and Vance wins with this hangar. We’re very proud of it.”
Col. Russ Mack, commander of 71st Flying Training Wing, recalled a hailstorm just after he took command in June 2010.
“We ended up damaging seven T-6 aircraft that were out of commission for somewhere between six and 10 months, to the tune of over $100,000 to repair,” he said.
Mack said he subsequently had conversations with city and state leaders about the possibility of building a joint-use hangar.
“They took that suggestion, and here we are, two years later, in a joint-use hangar,” he said.
Mike Cooper, city of Enid military liaison and chairman of the OSMPC, said the hangar helps the Air Force’s mission.
“It’s amazing that we can utilize the few dollars that we have to make the big mark like we are,” Cooper said. “It’s a great project for Oklahoma, Enid and Vance Air Force Base.”