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 [graphic] National Register Bulletin Guidelines for Evaluating and Documenting Historic Aviation Properties

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U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service

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The National Register of Historic Places recognizes tangible properties that are relatively fixed in location. They are classified as districts, sites, buildings, structures, or objects. In the aviation field, they include aircraft, wrecks of aircraft, development facilities, production plants, air terminals, military air bases and air stations, aids to navigation, missile launch sites and complexes, and administrative and educational facilities. As Clement M. Keys, head of the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company, once said, "ten percent of aviation is in the air, and 90 percent is on the ground." Even flying equipment has a base on ground, or on water.


Aircraft present special challenges to cultural resource managers. The variety of makes and models, the quantities of production, the replacement parts acquired through routine overhaul and maintenance, the conversion of aircraft from one use to another during its operational life, the craft's operational status, its airworthiness, and its mobility affect both the documentation and the evaluation of aircraft as historic properties. The large size of some aircraft, cost associated with care and storage, evolving standards for restoration, and deterioration due to outside storage also affect the management of aircraft as cultural resources.

At the basic level, aircraft are divided into two categories: heavier- than-air and lighter-than-air. The heavier-than-air category includes airplanes, seaplanes, amphibians, rotorcraft, and gliders. Airplanes may be land-based (once called landplanes) or carrier-based planes. They may be powered by either reciprocating or by gas turbine (jet) engines, or rocket engines; the atomic aircraft engine never reached application. Seaplanes as a class include both float or pontoon planes and flying boats. Amphibians can operate from either land or water. Rotorcraft may be autogiros or helicopters, again powered by either reciprocating or gas turbine engines. The glider class includes sailplanes. Lighter-than-air craft encompass balloons and airships (dirigibles). Dirigibles are either rigid airships (constructed with a metal-lattice frame), or nonrigid (blimps).

The National Register classifies aircraft as structures, that is, a construction distinct from a building. Aircraft can be listed individually in the National Register, as are the Wright Flyer III and a Fairchild Pilgrim 100B, each listed as a historically significant structure. Aircraft may be contributing features of a historic district.


An aviation wreck is any aircraft that has been crashed, ditched, damaged, stranded, or abandoned. The wreck may be intact or scattered, may be on land or in water, may be-in National Register terms-a structure or a site. A "structure" remains relatively intact, while a wreck "site" lacks the structural integrity of an aircraft, although the site may contain the structural elements of the aircraft.

An example of an aviation wreck which qualifies as a structure is the B-29 Serial No. 45-21847 (Heavy Bomber) which was forced to "ditch" in a lake in 1949. The aircraft settled on the lakebed and has been protected in an environment of deep, fresh water, anaerobic conditions, protective silt layers with very limited accessibility to divers. It is significant as one of a group the "Superfortresses" that were the first high altitude pressurized heavy bombers powered by the heaviest production type aircraft engines of the time. The airplane represents the design, use of materials, and functional significance as a preserved example of various modification programs serving major missions of the U.S. Air Force's highly secret program of high altitude atmospheric research. The wreck has the potential to yield information on early Atomic Era atmospheric scientific research and aviation technological conversion methods. Other airplanes in the same group have been much altered, reconstructed, and/or reassembled. The property is eligible for listing in the National Register under Criterion C as an example of a significant type of aircraft construction and under Criterion D for it potential to yield important information.

In some cases, a crash site may be eligible for the National Register even if there are no remains of the aircraft. In the case of the Will Rogers-Wiley Post crash site near Barrow, Alaska, the wreckage was removed years ago, but the site is listed in the National Register because of the association of the site with the crash that killed two famous promoters of aviation.

Wreck sites can be particularly vulnerable to looting (to salvage parts) or to vandalism. Confidentiality is designed to protect the site, the property, and the data there. Section 304 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as amended, provides that if disclosure of a site's location risks harm to the site, causes a significant invasion of privacy, or impedes the use of a traditional religious site by practitioners, then information about the location, character, or ownership of a historic property may be kept confidential by being withheld from the public. The National Register registration form includes a box which may be checked to request that locational information be withheld from public disclosure.


Full-Scale Tunnel
From its construction in 1931 until the end of World War II, the Full-Scale Tunnel in Hampton, Virginia, was the only wind tunnel in the world large enough to accommodate full scale aircraft for testing. During World War II, nearly every high performance aircraft used by the United States was drag-tested in this tunnel. It continues to be used for military and space craft testing. (Official NASA photograph, 1978)

Chief among aviation development facilities are research and engineering laboratories, including wind tunnels, in industry, government, and academe. Test facilities, whether structures such as test cells and experimental hangars, or sites like test fields and flight courses, are also development facilities. The Wright brothers, for example, used Huffman Prairie in Ohio as a flight test site in 1905. The prairie flying field is now a National Historic Landmark.

Production of aircraft occurred mostly in factories, including main factories, shadow and branch plants, component and parts shops. While most aircraft production in this country occurred in private industry, there was government production. Techniques for constructing fuselages, wings, and stabilizers from wood differ from the later production of metal planes, and production facilities reflected these differences.

An early example is Building 105 of the Boeing Airplane Company, in Seattle. Building 105, also known as the Red Barn, is a balloon-frame building constructed in 1909 and purchased by William E. Boeing in 1910. When Boeing later established himself in aviation, he used Building 105 as the original building of his aviation ventures, including the Boeing Airplane Company. The building became significant in the early history of the development and production of aircraft, and in the industrial history of Seattle and the State of Washington.

Ford Motor Company provides two later examples of production properties listed in the National Register. During World War II the Ford company produced military, including aviation, equipment at its River Rouge Complex and its Highland Park Plant, both in Michigan and both designated National Historic Landmarks.

Development occurred at government, as well as at private industrial sites. NACA conducted research and development at facilities in Hampton City, Virginia. Listed in the National Register are the eight-foot wind tunnel and the full-scale tunnel there, both National Historic Landmarks.


Wichita Municipal Airport
In the 1930s, Wichita, Kansas was widely acknowledged as the "air capital of the world." The Art-Deco style Wichita Municipal Airport administration building was considered to be one of the finest terminal buildings in the country, and was noted for the huge cast stone panels adorning its entrance. The building now serves McConnell Air Force Base.(Sandy Kent, February, 1990)

Aircraft usually take off and land at air terminals, which may be on land or water. Air terminals may include a variety of properties. On land, there are airfields, runways, and taxi ways. Seaplane bases may include anchorages, decks, docks, piers, and ramps. Aircraft carriers are ships specially designed and equipped for aviation duty. Flight decks, armament, tonnage, and internal arrangements reflected their aviation mission. Special docks, hangars, and mooring masts accommodated airships, both rigid and nonrigid, on land and water. Passenger terminals for commercial and general aviation may consist of hangars and other shelters for aircraft, control towers, flying schools, administration buildings, and ground service facilities for fuel, maintenance, and storage.

Among the air terminals currently listed in the National Register are the Douglas Municipal Airport in Arizona (an early international airport), Newark Metropolitan Airport in New Jersey, Pan American Seaplane Base at Dinner Key in Florida, Rhode Island State Airport Terminal in Warwick, and Shirley Field in Tallulah, Louisiana. Newark is an example of an early large airport. From 1930 to 1939, Newark was the busiest airport in this country. Its buildings are important in architecture and engineering as well as in the history of transportation and communications, as documented in the National Register nomination. The Rhode Island State Airport Terminal opened in 1933. Located at the "first state-owned airport in the United States," according to the nomination, it illustrates the merger of public works and transportation. In contrast, the terminal and hangars at Dinner Key comprised the Pan American seaplane or clipper ship base in 1930s. From there, Pan American flew international, commercial routes to Central and South America and the Caribbean. Shirley Field, in this final example, is historically significant for its association with the use of airplanes in agriculture. There, in the early 1920s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, through its Delta Laboratory, conducted experimental aerial dusting of cotton crops with calcium arsenate powder to control the boll weevil.


Over the years the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard established air stations and air bases. In Florida, the Pensacola Naval Air Station and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, both National Historic Landmarks, are two examples of air stations listed in the National Register. The Pensacola Naval Air Station Historic District encompasses 55 buildings and structures on 80 acres of land. Among the significant buildings are six metal seaplane hangars constructed between 1916 and 1918, while the historic structures include four amphibious aircraft launch ramps built during the same period. Established at the site of a former Navy yard, Pensacola became an air station in 1913. It immediately began training naval pilots and testing naval aircraft, two missions of the air station throughout its history.

Parts of air bases and air stations may qualify for listing in the National Register. Two examples are Hangar No. 9 at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, and Hangar No. 1 at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey. Also listed in the National Register are three Quonset huts used during World War II by an Army Air Corps Reserve Unit and the Civil Air Patrol in Lansing, Michigan. In Fayetteville, North Carolina, the Pope Air Force Base Historic District includes 32 buildings constructed in 1933 and 1934 for administrative, residential, and support purposes. One building originally housed the flight surgeon's clinic. A separate National Register entry includes aircraft Hangars 4 and 5, the oldest

aircraft-related buildings at Pope AFB and important examples of bowstring truss construction (the original roof support system used in American airplane hangars). The Randolph Field Historic District in San Antonio, Texas, was listed in the National Register for its association with the development of the Army Air Corps. Established in 1928, Randolph Field was the first American flying field designed exclusively for training pilots. During the 1930s, Randolph earned its nickname as "West Point of the Air," as a pilot and instructor training base, graduating more than 6,800 cadets, hundreds of whom served in World War II. The district contains a notable collection of Spanish Colonial Revival and Art Moderne buildings, the majority of which were constructed between 1931 and 1935.

Military aviation facilities also include supply depots, ports of embarkation, and other defense installations that may be located away from air terminals. The military, for example, established radar stations for early warning as part of the air defense network. In Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, the Opana Radar, which consisted of two trucks and a trailer atop an Opana hill, detected Japanese airplanes on their way to attack on Pearl Harbor. The grassy site is now a National Historic Landmark. It is significant as the place where the then-new technology of radar was first used by the United States in a combat situation. The Army's Radar Station B-71, listed in the National Register, is located near the Klamath River in northern California. It consists of a power-supply building disguised as a farmhouse and an operations building disguised as a barn. Both are concrete-block constructions camouflaged with false exterior walls of wood. Built in late 1942 and early 1943, this radar station remained in operation until the end of the war. In the latter months it operated as an emergency-rescue radar service for air-sea rescues.


Aids to air navigation were installed at terminals and on the ground along airways. Among the aids were daymarks (such as roof paintings), flashing light beacons, course lights, airport lighting, radio beacons and stations, radar, and weather services, as well as emergency landing fields. The National Register lists several examples of aids to air navigation. A revolving aircraft beacon near Portland, Oregon, is representative of the dead-reckoning type of beacons once constructed as aids to aerial navigation. Built by the U.S. Bureau of Lighthouses in 1933, the beacon is still in operation. It is an engineering structure that contributes to the significance of the Rocky Butte Scenic Drive Historic District. The control tower at the Old Port Columbus Airport in Ohio is another example of an aid to air navigation listed in the National Register.

Refer to National Register Bulletin: Guidelines for Evaluating and Nominating Historic Aids to Navigation (marine navigation), for additional guidance on this topic.


Randolph AFB Admin. Building
Constructed from 1930-1931, the Base Administration Building at Randolph Air Force Base in Bexar County, Texas, is individually listed for its architectural significance and for its historic association with the development of the Army Air Corps. Affectionately know as the "Taj Mahal" by generations of military flyers, the Base Administration Building was designed in the locally popular Spanish Renaissance style of architecture. (Photograph used as a Christmas card, 1940, photographer unknown. Courtesy of Randolph Air Force Base)

A number of administrative and educational facilities significant in aviation history are listed in the National Register. Two educational examples are the National War College in Washington, D.C., and the original Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. The Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, is a National Historic Landmark. So is the headquarters of the Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet (CINCPAC) at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base in Hawaii. Constructed in 1942, the CINCPAC headquarters building was used by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz from its completion in 1942 into late 1944. From there, Nimitz directed strategic and tactical operations of naval, including air, forces in the Pacific. Headquarters of the U.S. Army Forces, Pacific Ocean Areas (USAFPOA) is also a National Historic Landmark. Located in the Palm Circle Historic District at Fort Shafter in Hawaii, USAFPOA moved during World War II from one building there into the Pineapple Pentagon, built on the circle in 1944. In a final example, the Base Administration Building at Randolph AFB in Texas is a Spanish Colonial Revival style building of architectural significance; its nickname is the "Taj Mahal." Military properties dominate the administrative and educational properties listed in the National Register. Less well represented are properties associated with colleges and universities and the aviation industry.


Titan II Missile
The Air Force Facility Missile Site 8(571-7) Military Reservation, also known as the Titan Missile Museum, in Green Valley, Arizona, is the sole surviving Titan II Intercontinental Ballistic Missile of the 54 that were "on alert" throughout the Cold War era. The Titan II missiles were constructed to survive a first strike from the Soviet Union and to retaliate. The Titan II missiles were retired when they were superseded by a new generation of land-based and submarine-based ballistic missiles. (Control room launch consoles and silo, David K. Stumpf, January 24, 1992)

The National Register includes several missile launch sites or complexes associated with America's space or defense programs. The Goddard Rocket Launching Site was designated a National Historic Landmark for its association with the early history of rocketry. On March 16, 1926, Dr. Robert H. Goddard launched the world's first liquid propellant rocket on a farm near Auburn, Massachusetts. This event established the use of liquid fuel as a propellant for rockets and set the course for future developments in rocketry. The Cape Canaveral Air Force Station near Cocoa, Florida, has also been designated a National Historic Landmark. Since the launch of America's first earth satellite in 1958, the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station has been America's premier facility devoted to space exploration. The Landmark consists of discontiguous sites within the Air Force Station, encompassing Launch Pads 5, 6, 14, 19, 26, 34, the mobile service tower at Pad 13, and the original Mission Control Room. The Air Force Facility Missile Site 8 (571-7) Military Reservation, constructed in 1963 near Green Valley, Arizona, was listed in the National Register for its association with military defense during the Cold War. Missile Site 571-7 is the only surviving Titan II Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) complex of the 54 that were "on alert" throughout the Cold War. Built in response to the "missile gap" panic of the 1960s, the ICBMs were designed to survive and retaliate against a first strike nuclear attack from the Soviet Union and possibly other nations. The Titan II missiles were retired when they were superseded by a new generation of land-based and submarine-based missiles.

Control Room

The National Register Criteria for Evaluation identify the specific criteria under which a property may qualify for listing in the National Register. There are four basic National Register Criteria. Seven "criteria considerations" provide additional guidance for evaluating the significance of historic properties. Also, seven aspects of integrity influence the evaluation of a historic property. A nomination should address all applicable criteria, considerations, and aspects of integrity. For guidance in applying the National Register criteria to historic properties and in evaluating the integrity of a property, refer to National Register Bulletin: How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation.


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