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SW Aviator Feb/Mar 2001
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The Hangar Hotel
Fly and Explore... The $100 Hike

By Jay Wischkaemper

The Hangar Hotel

Lounging in a massive leather chair that seems to caress my entire body with my feet propped up on an ottoman; I look across the expanse at the most unique hotel room I’ve ever stayed in. The bed in front of me, except for the fact that it is a king size bed, is made up to look like a bed in a barracks during WWII, complete with olive drab army blanket. The furnishings of the room, while new, are replicas of 1940’s furniture. The telephone is a replica of an old rotary dial phone, with push buttons, but the receiver weighs in at about a pound. The alarm clock is a round dial model. Nothing digital in this room. 50 years ago, there would have been one just like it in a room that would have been ticking. The bathroom boasts black and white octagonal tile, reminiscent of what was in most public restrooms when I was growing up. The front desk features an old manual typewriter, and an oscillating fan that is right out of the period. Outside my window, the airport beacon flashes it’s white and green welcome. The walls are painted in tones of pastel and olive drab. I’m in a 2004/1944 time warp known as the Hangar Hotel.

The Hangar HotelThe brainchild of Dick Esterson, the Hangar Hotel is located at the Gillespie County airport at Fredericksburg, Texas. In an earlier article (Flying the Texas Presidential Trail, Jul/Aug 02), I alluded to the hotel that at the time was just being built. Now, it is a reality, and what a reality it is. As you enter the airport grounds, from a distance, you think you’re looking at a hangar next to the modern FBO. As you get closer, you realize this is no hangar. This is a brand new first class hotel facility that is second to none in quality, with an ambience that you will find no place else. Rooms are spacious and decorated in the above-mentioned 1940’s motif. The hotel faces the runway, and the second story features a deck where guests can sit in chairs to watch the airport arrivals. You can land and taxi right up to the front door.

Should you want to just fly in to see the place, the $100 dollar hamburger is available. The Airport Diner is open from 10:00-2:00 on weekdays and 8:00-4:00 on weekends. If it’s hearty diner food you’re looking for, this is the place. The menu features several sandwiches and salads ranging from $4.99 to $8.25. If you’re a breakfast fan (and don’t mind waiting till 10:00 am on weekdays to eat it), a full breakfast menu is served, ranging from $4.99 for pancakes to $7.85 for an omelet. The restaurant goes along with the décor of the rest of the facility, boasting a 1940’s diner motif. In addition to the restaurant, there is a lounge that is open on the weekends.

The Hangar HotelBut if you’re coming to look, plan on spending the night. You’ll be glad you did. Not only is the hotel a great place for airplane fanatics, but it’s also a stroll down memory land, and a living tribute to those who sacrificed so much to protect our freedom. Veterans, in fact, receive special rates, so if you qualify, remember to mention it. Prices are reasonable anyway, ranging a little on either side of $100 a night, depending on when you come. Weekends are higher. A weekday walk-in special may be available if you want to take a chance on whether or not there will be an open room. If you’re planning a drop in, make sure it isn’t during a weekend when there’s something big going on in Fredericksburg. Major events happen frequently, and during those times, you can’t get a room anywhere.

The facility is more that just a place to stay. Should you have a conference that needs a location, the Hangar Hotel might just be the place. Directly behind the restaurant is a conference center that can host meetings from large to small. A number of aircraft type clubs have had fly-ins here. It would also be ideal for reunions or conferences of any size.

The city of Fredericksburg was built by German immigrants in the mid 1800s. Over the years, this sleepy hamlet has turned into a major tourist attraction, drawing visitors from throughout the area. Its proximity to Austin and San Antonio, both a little over an hour away, makes it a magnet for people from those areas, but you’ll find people from throughout the area and the nation strolling main street to look at the shops (there are 150 boutiques in the city), sample the bakeries, and enjoy the history.

The Hangar HotelFredericksburg boasts a number of tourist attractions. The Museum of the Pacific War is probably the most extensive museum anywhere on the Pacific theatre. Fredericksburg was the boyhood home of war hero Admiral Chester Nimitz, which explains the museums location here. Another major attraction is the Lyndon B. Johnson Ranch just east of town. The LBJ Ranch includes a visitor’s center and free tours. Close to the ranch is the Sauer Living History Farm, operating as a farm in this area would have been in the 1800s. On the way out to the ranch, you’ll pass a wildflower farm. A visit to this region during the early spring wildflower season is breathtaking as Bluebonnets and numerous other wildflowers turn pastures into brilliant palettes of color. For color of a different sort, Fredericksburg boasts several art galleries, including that of well-known artist Charles Beckendorf, who lives in town. For airplane aficionados, Kerrville, the home of Mooney, is a short 35-mile drive, or a brief flight to the south.

Rental cars are available at the airport if you need extensive transportation. If all you need is a ride downtown, the accommodating folks at the hotel will do their best to see that you get there. After all, this is small town, rural Texas.

Should you be into the golf scene, the Gillespie County Airport is located next to the Lady Bird Johnson State park and Golf Course. Through a special arrangement with the golf course, several golf carts are kept at the Hangar Hotel. Should you fly in to play golf, you can load your clubs on the cart right at the airport. A special cart path has been built to take you directly to the clubhouse. Also, should you need a place to eat during the time when the Airport Diner isn’t open, you can take a cart to the clubhouse at the golf course, which has longer hours.

The Hangar HotelOne modern convenience at the hotel is, of course, cable television, and what kind of airport hotel would it be if one of the selections weren’t Discovery Wings. No detail has been overlooked.

There may be one somewhere, but I’ve never seen or heard of a hotel so totally dedicated to aviation, both in its theme and its operation. Add to the uniqueness of the hotel the charm of Fredericksburg and you get an unbeatable combination. The town has always been a winner. Now, with the Hangar Hotel on line, for pilots, this place is a must.

For more information call 830-997-9990 or visit
The material in this publication is for advisory information only and should not be relied upon for navigation, maintenance or flight techniques. SW Regional Publications and the staff neither assume any responsibility for the accuracy of this publication's content nor any liability arising fom it
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©2001 Southwest Regional Publishing, Inc.