Airport hangars are hot properties.

The aviation industry has seen an upswing in the last two years with more pilots and a seller’s market for small aircraft and homebuilt kits. There continues to be interest in hangar space at Seaside, airport committee chairman Randall Henderson said. This tracks with a nationwide trend.

The Seaside airport’s five hangars were constructed in 2007. They are privately owned and may be sold or rented.

The need for more space comes from an increase in usage at the airport as a result of the local uptick in real estate, the availability of real-time weather and cameras, word of mouth and an overall recent rise in the amount of general aviation hours flown, Henderson said.

The results of the Airport Support Network survey, published in Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, indicated that 71% of the airports nationwide surveyed have a waiting list for their hangars, and at those airports with a waiting list, 72% of aircraft owners waited from six months to more than two years.

Part of the demand comes from an interest in home-built kits, Henderson said. Three of the planes in the hangars, including Henderson’s, are from Van’s Aircraft homebuilt kits. “I built my RV-6 over a period of six years and have been flying it for 21 years now,” Henderson said.

According to a release from Van’s Aircraft, based in Aurora south of Portland, orders for the company’s RV aircraft kits have increased nearly 250% as new builders take advantage of the latest technology and designs.

Jeff Gage, of Gearhart, keeps his plane in Seaside and goes up about once a week. “I was in high school and junior high when I started learning,” Gage said. “And then I got serious about it when I was a junior in high school and got my license in college.”

Gage stopped piloting in 1974 before he returned to aviation two-and-a-half years ago.

Gage’s RV-12 was built by a group of teenagers — with expert adult supervision — as part of TeenFlight, a STEM program at Airway Science For Kids in Hillsboro.

Hangars are individually owned in a condominium arrangement on airport land leased from the city, Henderson said.

New hangars could be privately built and owned similar to the existing hangars, or the city could apply for a Federal Aviation Administration grant for hangars.

But the Seaside airport is not on the list for new FAA funding, and even if they were, grants for hangars are a very low priority for them, Henderson said. A private effort is probably the most likely for any future project.

Airports that have successfully developed new hangars have noted a rise in airport gross revenues, increased local economic impact, and increased employment opportunities, according to the Airport Support Network survey.

No hangars have sold for a while or are currently for sale at the Seaside airport, Henderson said. Typically sales are private, advertised on the aviation websites and word-of-mouth.

New hangars would most likely be placed along the western edge of the existing tie-down ramp, clear of the flood zone. Along the northern edge is also a possibility.

If the airport could accommodate 10 aircraft, whether through added hangars, shared space or outdoor tie-downs, that would get them moved up from “unclassified” to “basic” in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems, making the airport eligible for federal grant funding.

While the airport could accommodate many more aircraft now with existing tie-downs, and many people park outside when visiting, year-round outdoor storage in Seaside is unfeasible due to corrosion, potential for wind damage and security.

“At most airports there are some based aircraft that are tied down outside,” Henderson said. “But in our coastal climate, few people want to leave their planes outside long-term, which is why hangars are the key to getting more based aircraft here.”

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