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Don’t Forget Your Hangar Maintenance

Make sure to make adequate time to clean up the mess.

The important focus on hangar-keeping is to use the floor as smooth pavement, not a place for tool storage, air hoses, and extension cords. [Image: Pexels | John Booth]

“Rick,” I said, “you need to clean up this place!” The hangar floor was littered with blown-in grass clippings and dust bunnies, along with some well-soaked kitty litter accumulated under the airplane’s oily belly. “If you drop a screw, you’ll never find it until it’s embedded in a tire.” 

“Yeah, [I] need to take a day off to work around here,” Rick responded, which was his way of saying he’d put it off indefinitely. He liked tinkering with his airplane and projects, but he just wasn’t as devoted to housekeeping. I hadn’t meant for him to dedicate a whole day, just to work at it continuously.

From a practical standpoint, hangar-keeping is necessary to finding tools, retrieving parts, and minimizing hazards. A clean floor not only looks nice, it facilitates search and recovery. Rick’s standard was fix and fly now, clean up later…much later. A corner of the hangar contained a pile of empty oil bottles, lunch wrappers, and shipping boxes, next to an overflowing trash container, marking his concession to waste management.

I began my journey into aviation life as a hangar rat, poking around open stalls at the airport and offering to sweep out hangars for lunch money. A quarter or 50 cents meant a hamburger, and sometimes my efforts resulted in a ride. The average T-hangar could be given a once-over in 30 minutes at the hands of a diligent teenager, I soon learned.


In the subject case, I debated between a push broom and scoop shovel. Rick was going flying, so I offered to take advantage of the open space and uncover his concrete. As friends, he knew he could trust me to throw away the trash-worthy. Anything usable would be left on the workbench, but the corner detritus was obviously already slated for the community dumpster. “How about I sweep up for ya?” I said, volunteering. “Sure, go for it,” he responded.

With his workaday Cessna gone, I made short work of the trash pile and floor accumulation. I live in a four-ship bay, so my own airplane, always in the back, gets rolled out more expeditiously when my cohabitors are gone. I often take advantage of such an opportunity to advance the state of sanitation. One doesn’t have to move every pallet or lounging couch—any sweeping out is an improvement.

The important focus on hangar-keeping is to use the floor as smooth pavement, not a place for tool storage, air hoses, and extension cords. If you drop a nut or cotter key, it’s a lot easier to find if the floor is clean. Drip pans are a better solution than oil-dry granules or pieces of old cardboard. The finest Snap-on rollaway is no substitute for organization and a strong return policy. A place for everything and everything in its place speeds the workflow when you need a tool. You should know not just which drawer it’s in but which corner of that drawer.

In sport aviation, we are blessed to benefit from the community of like-minded folks, which means sharing space and stuff. Sharing some cleanup work is just part of our membership dues.


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