Piece of Columbia aviation history could soon be restored - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Piece of Columbia aviation history could soon be restored

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Preservationists say it's one of only six of its kind left in the country: The Curtis-Wright Hangar at Hamilton-Owens Airport. It's anchored the Columbia airport for years, covering a B-25 fished out of a South Carolina lake.

It might be hard to see through the chain-length fence and years of rust, but this hangar was once a Columbia hotspot.

"This was it back then. This is where the passengers came. There was a little deli where they could get something to eat, the pilots would get something to eat," said Scott Linaberry with CW Hangar Partners, the group behind efforts to preserve the old hangar.

To Linaberry, the hangar offers a ticket that'll take you farther than any plane could -- all the way back to 1929, the early days of aviation's golden age.

"The building is significant in so many ways," said Linaberry. "It was the first airport building in Columbia, which spawned the Columbia Army Air Base, which spawned all of South Carolina's incredible aviation history."

It's that history that left this building behind decades ago, but one Linaberry and the CW Hangar Partners haven't forgotten.

"Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, FDR, were all here at one time or another," said Cantzon Foster.

The partners want you to be next. They're raising money to turn the ancient piece of aviation history into Columbia's next big event venue and restaurant. They'll be looking for tax breaks and grants, but have also launched a crowd-funding website to help move the project along.

"You've got an amazing space that you cannot replace in Columbia," said Krisdee Foster. "There is no other place like this in Columbia."

There aren't many like it in the country, actually. The group thinks it's only one of six left standing, and the only one that hasn't been renovated past the point of historic significance.

It's usual tenant, a B-25 bomber pulled from Lake Greenwood, will come home once the CW is sured up and ready for its second grand opening. 

"It's hard to get a sense of awe until you step into the building; it's absolutely phenomenal," said Linaberry. "I mean, you think about walking where Amelia Earhart and Franklin Roosevelt walked and it's pretty overwhelming."

The group is hoping for a completion date sometime in 2015.

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