How To Find An Aircraft Hangar In 2021

By Jason Zilberbrand

September 28, 2021 Educational

While aircraft hangars are essential for proper storage and care, finding one available, let alone in good condition, is often a challenge – especially with the nationwide shortages.

Get all your questions answered on how to find an aircraft hangar in 2021.

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Do I Need A Hangar & What Is The Alternative?

While it’s tempting to avoid the hassle of finding a hangar, investing your time and money into locating a hangar for storage will save you many headaches down the road.

A hangar protects your aircraft from weather and damage. They also help maintain the condition of your aircraft; after all, who wants to leave their aircraft sitting outside being exposed to all sorts of environmental issues?

[RELATED: How To Spot And Prevent Aircraft Corrosion]

Just think about your automobile. If you owned a classic car, would you not want to keep it safe inside a garage?

While it’s a slippery slope comparing ownership and care of aircraft and cars, in this case, it’s appropriate.

But even though keeping your aircraft in a hangar is ideal, that doesn’t eliminate the challenges of finding a suitable one to rent. Even though there are alternatives available, one alternative you shouldn’t consider is preceding a hangar entirely.

Putting Your Aircraft In A Hangar vs. Other Options

The ideal scenario for an aircraft owner is to find a hangar in good condition close to their home and is also available to rent. But with waitlists that are sometimes as long as several years of wait time, what other options should you consider?

Communal Hangars

Communal or shared hangars are exactly what they sound like. Some airports offer shared hangar space for multiple pilots to store their aircraft.

With this option, costs may be lower. Sometimes, the airport will even offer maintenance as part of the deal. However, available space is entirely dependent on demand in the area. If the hangar owner has turning profits as their priority, then you may find your aircraft crammed in a hangar with several others. The infamous “hangar rash” may be in your future.

T-Hangars

T-hangars may be easier to find or build than traditional ones. But be aware that because the shape of the hangar is a literal T to accommodate the shape of an aircraft, you have limited room for making repairs or doing maintenance work.

These hangars will offer protection from the elements. But if you’re building it yourself, consider what materials you want to use to ensure the hangar can withstand strong wind or storms.

Tents

Tent aircraft hangars are a cost-effective solution for hangars. Out of these alternative options, a tent should only use this if you fly your aircraft often and live in a place without inclement weather.

However, with this option, you potentially leave it exposed to strong winds and weather. Many tent hangars do not entirely cover your aircraft. They can be exposed from the front and rear. Since tents are not the most stable option, a storm has the potential to demolish them easily.

The Perks And Purpose Of An Aircraft Hangar

At their core, aircraft hangars offer pilots a place to store their aircraft safely from the elements. Baked avionics, hail dents, fading paint, and damaged windows are all possible risks of exposing an aircraft.

With a quality hangar, you can expect to work on your plane from inside the hangar, and you will feel confident that the structure won’t blow over.

Keeping your aircraft protected means:

  • Less risk of costly damage

  • Less need for repairs

  • Your aircraft will remain in good condition

Additionally, those who own aircraft with “wet-wing” fuel tanks benefit from a fully enclosed hangar. This is because covered protection allows owners to avoid fuel tank leaks from the dried sealant potentially.

Furthermore, aircraft hangars function as places for pilots to gather, meet, and build community.

What To Do When You Can't Find A Hangar Locally.

If you’re unable to find a hangar in your local area, expand your search area. Although this might feel tedious, the investment in time will save you money in the long run by ensuring your aircraft is safe.

Current State Of Supply & Demand For Hangars in 2021

This past summer, AOPA released results from their Airport Support Network survey. The AOPA survey was sent out to over 700 AOPA Airport Support Network volunteers and 116 public-use Pennsylvania airports.

The findings showed that “71 percent of the airports surveyed have a waiting list for their hangars, and at those airports with a waiting list, 72 percent of aircraft owners waited from six months to more than two years.”

Additionally, as little as 8% of the hangars could be deemed to be in high-quality condition, and 36% required minor or large repairs and maintenance.

Some hangar owners may be looking for higher deposits to rent.

So, the wait times for hangars in good condition are at least half a year or longer. But by the time you’re able to store your aircraft in one of these hangars, the condition may have suffered. You can also expect to pay more than in previous years potentially.

In short, demand is high, but supply is quite low. This is especially true for pristine hangars.

Over the years, billion-dollar businesses have also purchased larger and more expensive aircraft and have acquired many available hangar spaces through their buying power. Hangars that were once an option for aircraft owners and more casual flyers are now taken up by companies with big aircraft.

This has caused a trickle-down effect in which owners of medium-sized aircraft are turning to hangar spaces that could hold numerous smaller aircraft. As you can imagine, prices have risen because of this system. Small aircraft owners have had to turn to outlying airports or find alternative ways of storing their aircraft.

What Are The Steps In Acquiring Hangar Space?

First and foremost, figure out your budget. Once you have a good idea of how much rent you want to spend each month, you can look for hangars that fit your needs and budget.

Next, you’ll want to take time to find a quality hangar in your area or the surrounding area. Once you find good options, reach out to the owners to see if you’re able to schedule a viewing. Additionally, find out if the hangar has a waiting list and how long the wait might be. It might be a good idea to have a couple of options picked out if one has a much longer waitlist.

After you’ve chosen your hangar, you’ll need to deposit once the hangar is available, sign a rental agreement, and make payments when appropriate.

If you want to buy or lease hangar space, reach out to us today to connect with an expert in your area.

Be Aware You Can't Buy Land On Airport Property.

While you might initially think you could buy land on airport property to build your hangar, that isn’t the case. You see, even though airports will allow you to build a hangar on their space, you’re leasing the space from the airport and paying to build your hangar as well.

It’s like paying a lot in rent as well as paying a mortgage.

However, fly-in communities offer space for buying and building a hangar. Some of these communities already have hangars built for interested pilots as well.

What To Look For Before Renting Or Buying A Hangar (Inspection, Ask Questions, Etc.)

When you’re looking for a hangar, it’s essential to ask:

  • What’s the condition of the hangar space?

  • What measures are the owners taking to maintain its condition?

  • How easily can I access my aircraft from its location? Is the hangar private or shared?

  • What’s the weather like in the area?

  • Is the cost worth the quality of the space?

These are all questions you should be thinking about.

Benefits Of Building A Hangar vs. Finding One That Already Exists

If you have the funds and time, building your own hangar gives you a chance to ensure you’re building something that will last. However, you have first to find a space to build. And if you have a larger aircraft model, like a big business jet, you’re going to run into problems finding real estate.

However, depending on the wait times for local hangars, you may be able to build your own hangar faster than you could actually be able to rent hangar space. You could always compromise by building a more cost-effective hangar while you're on the waitlist for a rental space.

Ramifications Of Not Putting Your Aircraft In A Hanger

We’ve already talked about the risks of leaving your aircraft exposed, but here they are again. Hangar space is almost always an investment in maintaining the condition and value of your aircraft. It protects your aircraft from corrosion, weather, damaged aesthetics and ultimately protects the value of your aircraft.

Contact VREF For Aircraft Appraisals, Valuations, & Learn The Value Of A Hangar

VREF online offers you more than just appraisals on aircraft models. The VREF database also allows you to appraise hangar spaces. Don’t embark on the process of buying, renting, or selling aircraft or hangars alone. Connect with us to determine the value of a hangar.