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What Is The World’s Largest Aircraft Hangar?



There are three key ingredients to successful aircraft hangar buildings; they need a huge area, no interior supports and be made from hard-wearing weatherproof materials.


Often, this makes a huge, robust kit-built building an ideal option for the vast majority of aviators, as the imperative is to have a trusted design built quickly and effectively, allowing for a vast surface area of shelter for some of the largest and most fragile machines ever made.


Naturally, this means that one of the largest buildings on Earth is an aircraft hangar designed to protect one of the biggest and most fragile machines ever conceived.


The only bigger buildings are Airbus’ assembly hall for the biggest airliner ever made, the Airbus A380, Tesla’s somewhat-infamous Texas Gigafactory, and the Boeing Everett Factory in Washington State.


However, the story of Aerium is somewhat more fraught, starting out life as a contingency outpost airbase, becoming the home of a planned revival of the world’s oldest form of powered flight before becoming a theme park. The site crammed a lot of history in a short space of time.


Aerium


The Aerium hangar was built on the Brand-Briesen Airfield in Brandenberg, Germany, an airbase first commissioned in 1938 before being conquered by the Red Army in 1945.


For nearly 50 years, it was treated as a contingency airbase by the Soviet Union in the event of nuclear war, but after Germany was reunified in 1989, there was an agreement by the USSR before it collapsed entirely to return all East German military bases by the end of 1994.


In 1996, four years after returning into the possession of the German government, Cargolifter AG was founded with the monumentally ambitious plan to build some of the biggest airships in history with the help of modern facilities and technology.


This plan would lead to the revival of an industry that had all but disappeared after the Zeppelin Company’s flagship Hindenburg airship crashed into flames on 6th May 1937. Whilst much smaller scale blimps have regularly flown since, gigantic airships were supplanted by heavier-than-air jet planes.


Part of this plan was the construction of the world’s largest hangar, with a floor area of 750,000 square feet and a total volume of 184 cubic feet, big enough to shelter the entirety of the Eiffel Tower on its side.


The hangar was completed in November 2000 at a total cost of €78m, with plans to construct the ambitious CL160 airship.


The problem was that Cargolifter were attempting to build some of the largest aircraft in the world with technology that was by 2000 far less trusted in the era of Concorde, but with far less money than any of their competitors in aerospace had to hand.


This meant that the company effectively tried to rush the project in order to get a prototype constructed before, but rather ironically, their funding runway ran out and the company was liquidated in 2002.


The hangar itself was sold to a Malaysian entertainment company that built a theme park within the vast structure.

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