Hangar 9-Hanging Out There

Published in The Wilson County News on April 13, 2016

Hanging Out AT Hangar 9                                Restoration begins for southeast San Antonio historic landmark

By Harry and Linda Kaye Perez                                                                                                                                 Exclusive to the Wilson County News

   “Feel the presence of the past and get excited for the future” is what Leo Gomez, President and CEO of Brooks City Base shared with us at the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the new restoration of Hangar 9, located at the heart of Brooks historical campus. Hangar 9, a wooden 8,700 square foot structure, is the only surviving facility of its kind anywhere in the country. During World War I the hangar housed eight (8) JN-4-Curtiss,“Jenny,” aircraft.

Opening Ceremony

    Hangar 9 was one of sixteen (16) such hangars constructed on an 873-acre plot of land on the southeast side of San Antonio. In 1917, the U. S. Army Air Corps raced to construct airfields all across the country, in order to provide flight training in support of the war effort of World War I. This airfield first known as Gosport Field, then Brooks Field (Kelly Field No. 5), and later became Brooks Air Force Base.

   The estimated cost of the hangar’s restoration is $2.8 Million. Upon the completion of the restoration, this amazing structure will once again come alive, and will provide south Texans with a place to remember the past and ponder the future. It will also serve as a venue for business and family gatherings and events of all kinds.                                                    

    The Groundbreaking Ceremony included the lowering of the windsock from the top of the hangar that was then presented to Rebecca Viagran, the City Counsel Woman for the District 3, in which Brooks City Base resides, for “safekeeping”. The windsock will be ceremoniously re-installed when the restoration is completed. The Counsel Woman delivered a stirring speech describing the enormous contribution that Hangar 9 has had on the aviation, San Antonio and South Texas communities, and how it will serve us into the future-“making new memories for decades to come,” Viagran said.

Col. Warren Reminiscing

   Brooks Field was so named to honor a young San Antonio Aviator Cadet Sidney Johnson Brooks, Jr. He was one of the first to volunteer for flight training at Kelly Field. Cadet Brooks died on November 13, 1917 in a flight accident while flying the Curtiss JN-4 “Jenny”.  This was to be his final solo flight before graduating from flight school.

Photo on the left-Retired Col. Bruce H. Warren, inside Hangar 9, reminisces about his time at Brooks Aerospace Medicine Facility,  which has been repurposed and will oprn in 2017 as the University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopatic Medicine.

  Brooks Air Force Base (AFB) served us well through a myriad of missions, from flight training to Aerospace Medicine during the past 99 years. In the late 1950s, Brooks began transitioning from a flight-training center to a center for modern aerospace medical research and development, along with a number of other educational disciplines that the Air Force was fostering. Hangar 9 links the past with the future. When the last plane stationed at the base took off on June 20, 1961, it marked an end to a grand era of aviation history. As time marched on, progress has continued to be made well into the 21th Century.

     Brooks has given us a rich history, with the likes of Charles Lindberg flying in and out of Brooks Field back in the 1920s, and Colonel David L. “Tex” Hill, the fighter pilot ace who made his claim to fame with the legendary Flying Tigers of World War II and who served as the Wing Commander at Brooks in the early 1950s. Hangar 9 still stands today as a visual testament to the living history of those whose dedication made it possible for all of us to share in that history, even if it is only in our minds and hearts.

Sydney Brooks Memorial Park

   In covering this story, we were fortunate and honored to meet Colonel Bruce H. Warren, P.h.D., M.D., (retired), who served our country here at Brooks AFB as Chief of Flight Research at the Aerospace Medicine Facility located on the campus. That same facility he worked in so many years ago, will soon serve as the new School of Osteopathic Medicine for the University of the Incarnate Word opening in 2017.

Photo on the right-The Sydney J. Brooks Memorial Park is adjacent to Hangar 9, a beautiful place for quient meditation on the Brooks City-Base campus in southeast San Antonio.


Hangar 9, built in 1918, is the oldest wooden aircraft hangar of its kind still standing in its original location, according to information from Brook City-Base. A registered San Antonio Historic Landmark and National Historic, it also is listed in the Texas State Historical Survey, and the National Register of Historic Places.

    “ The United States is in the midst of honoring the 100th anniversary of World War I, so it is the most appropriate that we begin this work now to protect this important historic treasure for future generations,” said Brooks Chairman Manuel Villa, during the March 29 grounding for the hangar’s restoration and rehabilitation. “By making this investment, we will rehabilitate this building and bring new life to it, so that future generations can begin to make new memories here through family gatherings and celebrations and other community events.

And there’s More

Learn more about Hangar 9 and Brooks city Base by viewing the following websites:



 Or, contact the World War I Centennial Commission- wwicc.tx@gmail.com

   © Harry Perez 2012