MCAS Tustin - AMA Heritage Site
On October 19th, 2013 the AMA Executive Council recognized the “North Hangar” at Marine Corps Air Station - Tustin, California… as an AMA National Aeromodeling Heritage Program – Historic Site! The members of the Harbor Soaring Society “AMA Gold Leader Club” wish to thank the AMA Executive Council, for commemorating the “North Hangar’s” historic significance, and for their assistance in our on-going, efforts to gain permanent access to the facility.
Of special note... AMA "Heritage Site" recognition is due to the scholarly research efforts of HSS member John Rittenhouse, with notable contributions from Mr. Fred Hesse and AMA liaison Dr. Gary Fogel.
During World War II, two large blimp hangars were constructed as facilities for military blimps used as reconnaissance aircraft for west coast defense. One of the largest free standing wooden structures in the world, the North hangar (historically known as the Santa Ana hangar) has been associated with significant events and individuals in aeromodeling for more than sixty years! Model aircraft flying began at the site after WWII. Within a very short time… by the late 1950's many endurance records had been set in the building. It was common at that time for flyers to attend multiple-day meets and to sleep overnight in the building!
The “North Hangar” was the site of the indoor AMA “NATS” in 1952, 1955, 1959, 1963, and 1967. Many of the biggest names in indoor flying, of that time were local Santa Ana flyers: Joe Bilgri, Bill Atwood, Robert Champine (NASA test pilot), and Clarence Mather. The site of the 15th annual “Scale Masters Championships” in September of 1994, and location of many indoor AMA national records and FAI world records including catapult glider, hand-launched glider, and rubber powered endurance records.
In April of 2010, the “North Hangar” was one again the location for two Category IV record flights… Jim Buxton’s “Hand Launched Glider” (HLG) two flight total of 3:29.4 minutes, and Ralph Ray’s, Standard Class “Catapult Launch Glider” (CLG) two flight total of 3:52.3 minutes! As recently as May 2011, Stan Buddenbohm upped the ante in Category IV, Unlimited Class “Catapult Launch Glider” (CLG), with a two flight total of 4:31.9 minutes! Indoor model aircraft flyers around the world, consider the Tustin “North Hangar” to be “hallowed ground” and to have the have the best flying conditions of any indoor flying site in the world!