Vintage aircraft hangar survives in Northbrook business park

Vintage aircraft hangar survives in Northbrook business park

  • The aircraft hangar of the former Sky Harbor Airport in Northbrook, which opened in 1929 and closed in 1973, still exists and is used by a heating and air conditioning company and a restaurant.

      The aircraft hangar of the former Sky Harbor Airport in Northbrook, which opened in 1929 and closed in 1973, still exists and is used by a heating and air conditioning company and a restaurant. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted9/16/2020 1:00 AM

A 1929-vintage aircraft hangar that had a role in a historic, record-setting endurance flight is tucked away in Northbrook's Sky Harbor Business Park.

Once part of the Sky Harbor Airport -- built in 1929 and closed in 1973 -- the hangar is now home to businesses including a heating and air conditioning company and a restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Brothers John and Kenneth Hunter flew over the airport for 553 hours and 41 minutes in their Stinson SM-1, "The City of Chicago," from June 11 through July 4, 1930, refueling in flight, according to information provided by Judy Hughes of the Northbrook Historical Society. They were forced discontinue the flight due to an oil leak, and after landing were surrounded by cheering crowds as they taxied to the hangar.

Sky Harbor was built just before the Great Depression, and it was intended to be a destination for wealthy people wishing to engage in recreation, including golf, Hughes said. Its developers likely envisioned greater success for the airport, and these plans were interrupted by the Depression and never materialized.

I knew nothing about the existence of the airport and the hangar until recently, when I was researching information related to the Naval Air Station Glenview control tower. Almost by accident, I learned of Sky Harbor, and the fact that the hangar still stands.

Facing south, the front of the hangar retains its original styling, which appears to be Art Deco. Scott Koch, longtime employee of AA Service Co. Heating and Cooling, gave me a quick tour and pointed out the wood "barrel-style" roof interior.

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AA Service Co. has occupied their space since 1997, and Maestro Grill is their neighbor to the east.

Though I had an FAA authorization to fly at 300 feet, I decided to keep my drone flight at a lower altitude because I wanted to capture the styling of the hangar, but I also wanted to fly high enough to show it is surrounded by a business park. There is a residential development out of the frame to the right.

An orange wind sock adorns the roof of the hangar, a nice touch that recalls the former glory of Sky Harbor Airport.

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