Maine EAA Chapter gathers forces to build a new hangar
Lots of volunteer work and fundraising from all of the EAA Chapter 1210's 46 members made this new hangar at their location in Biddeford, Maine a reality. The 60' x 80' hangar has a 47'11.5 x 16' 11" Schweiss custom-made Bifold liftstrap / autolatch door on it.
Active organizations have a way of getting things done - done on time, done on budget and done with the help of individuals and the community they live in. The worldwide Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) has EAA Chapter 1210 of Biddeford, Maine in its ranks. Although relatively small they are none-the-less definitely an active "get it done" organization.
EAA Chapter 1210 houses anything from a 1947 Stinson 108 to a fairly new Cessna 182 in their only hangar. The group uses the Young Eagles program to take youth on their first flights as a start to their journey of becoming a pilot. They also raise money for medical Angel Flights, PALS, Lifeflights and other good causes each year.
EAA Chapter 1210 is a not for profit organization of 46 members ages early 20s to late 80s; some who fly and some who don't. Established in 1996-97, it dedicates its time to promote general and recreational aviation in the community, and to introduce young people to flying.
In order to better meet their mission, the chapter began plans in earnest over 10 years ago to raise funds to build its own hangar to have a home base to promote aircraft projects, run aviation education programs, and use it for their Young Eagles program. Young Eagles are girls and boys between the ages of 8 and 17. The EAA teaches these youth basic aerodynamics and principles of flight, as well as providing their first flight in a small aircraft.
Since 1992, more than 1.8 million Young Eagles have enjoyed a flight from EAA's network of volunteer pilots. For many, it was the start of their journey to becoming a pilot, aircraft mechanic, air traffic controller, or many other career possibilities. They've introduced thousands, possibly tens of thousands to the thrill and passion of flying.
The EAA hangar is located at the Biddeford Municipal Airport in southeast Maine, just south of Portland. The hangar is also used for rental space for other pilots and airport tractor and snow removal equipment is stored in it.
Hangars are costly, Steve Welch, president of the local chapter said they needed to raise a lot of money to build a 60 ft. x 80 ft. hangar.
"We worked at the International Seaplane Association Fly-In up in Greenville, Maine, and they gave us donations for that. We got cars, boats, anything we could get for free, fixed them up and sold them, had open houses and pancake breakfasts. The community was good at giving us stuff too,"said Welch.
Located adjacent to the Biddeford Municipal Airport. Biddeford is a city of about 21,250 people located in York County, southeast Maine, just south of Portland and west of the Saco River which rolls in from the saltwaters of Saco Bay a short distance to the east. It is the largest city in the county, and is the sixth-largest in the state.
Pouring of the foundation on the Chapter hangar began with the hope to complete it over the next year, funds and weather allowing. After a long, cold, snowy winter, the club picked up where they left off. It took several weekend days, a few weekday evenings, and lots of bodies. One by one, the walls for the hangar were constructed, laid out to be raised, and finally erected. By September 24-25 the trusses were put up over the weekend with the help of 15 to 20 volunteer workers.
With the hangar taking shape much thought was put into purchasing a quality door for it. Welch was designated to attend the spring Sun 'n Fun International Fly-in and Expo in Lakeland, Florida to see what hangar door manufacturers had to offer and was given authorization to spend money to buy a door. All other members of EAA 1210, continued to pursue community contributions, member contributions, material donations and plan fundraisers.
This aerial photograph shows the EAA 1210 Chapter Hangar. Notice the new asphalt on our
ramp in front of the hangar. The rest of the hangars on the field are easily visible. Two taxiways make their way down each of the rows. A total of 28 hangars, besides the FBO and EAA hangars, currently exist at Biddeford Airport (B19).
"I talked to all the dealers and told them that the guy with the sharpest pencil was going to get my order. That's where I met Dave Schweiss from Schweiss Doors. I liked Dave and the salesmen from Schweiss Doors. Friday when we were about to leave I went back to all the guys and asked them what their price was. I told them we had a certain amount of money we could spend on the door and that it took years to raise money to build our hangar. Knowing we were a good organization, Dave said he would treat me as good as he could and called his brother Mike, the owner of Schweiss Doors. He sold us a Schweiss Bifold door at about half the price of the others. The Schweiss Door price was very good compared to all the others. Some of the other dealer prices weren't too bad, but they tried to jack it up on the shipping and stuff. I told Dave that if I could put a Schweiss Door on the hangar, there are 29 more hangars at Biddeford with old barn doors on them which I would try to sell more Schweiss doors for," said Welch.
True to his word, three more bifold and hydraulic Schweiss doors were sold at the airport and a couple more are likely. "Mike was also good about throwing in the liftstraps and autolocks. I was trying to get him to throw in the automatic opener - he wouldn't do that, but gave us a case of caps instead," chuckled Welch.
In June the Schweiss Bifold Door arrived. Preparations for installation on the structure were complete and members again volunteered their time and installed it minus the skin during a work session on August 11th. When October rolled around, the door had finally been skinned and the rest of the aluminum installed on the face of the hangar. All of the members pretty much helped out on something.
The all-steel Schweiss bifold doorframe was put on the new 60' x 80' EAA Chapter hangar about three years after the chapter had raised enough funds to build it and purchase the door. The door measures 47' 11.5" x 16' 11" and has liftstraps and autolatches.
"The bifold door installation went real well during one weekend of working. We followed the instruction manual and had equipment available to set the door in place. I think we called Schweiss Doors once or twice with electrical questions. They were great to us. I can't say enough good for them. We also got advice from the Schweiss Door engineer on bracing the building. The well-braced door goes up and down and doesn't move anything. It's used a lot in the winter and seals up beautiful. I can open it even if snow is drifted up against it. Ordering the bifold style was the best thing we ever did. The straps and autolocks are great and the doors opens fast with no grinding," said Welch.
Welch also said the door arrived on time and in good condition. The truck driver kept Welch well informed as to where he was and when the door would arrive after he made some other deliveries along the way. The driver even backed the door right into the hangar for them.
"I would and I do recommend Schweiss doors to others. We'll demonstrate our door to others with no problem. I can't say enough good about the company, they've been good to us," added Welch.
Three years after construction on the hangar began the EAA almost had a wrench thrown into their efforts. November 4, was a telling day for people that didn't see the value in the Biddeford Municipal Airport. But citizens of Biddeford rallied and defeated a ballot item that would have closed the airport.
EAA Chapter 1210 has 46 members and all at one time or another donated time or services to fund the new hangar. Here a few workers standing on a scissor lift apply aluminum siding to the doorframe.
"We are a community of pilots and aviation enthusiasts who work to preserve and extend the freedom of flight, and to knock down barriers to personal aviation. We restore aircraft, do cookouts for the community. At the end of June the National Guard platoon will use our hangar for a family cookout, we host open houses to raise funds annually for Angel Flights to fund family medical flights, we raise more funds for PALS, Lifeflights and others," said Welch.
Members donate the use of their planes, gas and everything for Young Eagle flights, of which we've probably done over 200. They don't have to pay for anything.
The EAA 1210 Chapter has the one hangar, which houses anything from a 1947 Stinson 108 to a fairly new Cessna 182. In case of a hail storm or something they'll jam seven or eight planes in it. Otherwise they store the airport tractor and snow removal equipment in it. Rental space is given for two planes with space left over for restoration projects.
Even though the hangar now has a door, much more money is still needed to complete a workshop and meeting room within the hangar. For more information about EAA 1210 or to donate your time, money or services, you can contact Chapter President Steve Welch in Arundel, ME at 207-467-1086 or 207-967-4018 or Treasurer Vic Chewning in Kennebunk, ME at 207-985-1881.
With liftstraps and the autolatch and bottom drive motor in place the bifold door is raised to the fully open position.
An EAA 1210 volunteer used a front-end loader to bring it out of the hangar and to lift the door into place.
Two volunteers start sheeting the exterior of the door by applying the base trim to it.
The semi-truck driver kept EAA members informed along his route as to when their door would be delivered. He backed the doorframe into the hangar where it could be stored until it was ready to be installed.