Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site | MOTON FIELD GROUNDS TOUR

View of Hangar 1 and 2 from the Scenic Overlook

View of Hangar 1 and 2 from the Scenic Overlook

In addition to the Hangar 1 Museum and the Hangar 2 Museum, there are six original structures at Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, plus steel skeletal outlines called ghost structures that mark the sites of buildings no longer in existence. Information panels located at each building tell the history of the structure. You can walk around and see everything in a half hour (not including the museums).

To get to Moton Field from the parking area you must first cross what is known as the Scenic Overlook. This is a plaza with benches and newly planted trees located on the hill above the airfield. Stop for a bird’s eye view, then head down the hill to the buildings below. A paved path leads to the bottom.

Scenic Overlook plaza at Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site

Scenic Overlook plaza at Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site

Hill you must descend to reach Moton Field

Hill you must descend to reach Moton Field

The first building you come to as you walk downhill along the paved path is the largest non-hangar structure at Moton Field, the Skyway Club. This was a recreation and dining facility built in 1945. It once served as a restaurant for park guests, but today it is a little dilapidated and is now closed to the public.

Skyway Club as seen from the Control Tower in Hangar 2

Skyway Club as seen from the Control Tower in Hangar 2

Once you reach the end of the paved path at the bottom of the hill your view will be dominated by Hangar 1 and 2. The small building situated on your left was used to store dope, a liquid sealant made by dissolving cellulose in nitric acid (nitrate dope, highly flammable) or butyric acid (butyric dope, non-flammable). The wings and parts of the fuselage of the airplanes used for training in the 1940s were constructed of wooden frames with linen cloth wrapped around them. The linen was coated with nitrate dope—the dope most commonly used at the time—and this caused the fabric to shrink tight and become waterproof, giving the cloth a plastic feel. Butyric and nitrate dopes are still used today, though nitrate dope is only used for model airplanes and for historical airplane restorations. (There are two other similar storage buildings on the grounds of Moton Field.)

Shed for storing the highly flammable dope

Shed for storing the highly flammable dope

There are three ghost structures at Moton Field. The two behind Hangar 1 (the hangar closest to the Scenic Overlook) mark the location of the Cadet House and the Army Supply Building, which were constructed in 1942. The Cadet House was used as a cadet classroom and waiting room, as well as for the Flight Surgeon’s office. The Supply Building was a storage warehouse for items such as airplane parts.

Army Supply Building (right) and Cadet House (left) ghost structures

Army Supply Building (right) and Cadet House (left) ghost structures

A third ghost structure is located next to Hangar 2 and marks the location of the Physical Plant where the Chief Engineer had his office.

Physical Plant ghost structure

Physical Plant ghost structure

If you turn right and walk down the street that runs along the side of Hangar 2—the hangar closest to you at this point—you will come to the Warehouse and Vehicle Storage building (next to the Physical Plant ghost structure). This was used as a mechanics garage for base vehicles, as well as a place to store them at night. This building is not open to the public, and is today used as the park’s storage facility for the grounds keeping equipment.

Warehouse and Vehicle Storage building

Warehouse and Vehicle Storage building

Head back towards Hangar 1, which houses the park’s Visitor Center and museum exhibits that tell the beginning of the Tuskegee Airmen story. You will pass the Bath and Locker House. Competed in 1941, the facility was used by administrative and support personnel, both men and women, white and black, who lived on the base. Flight cadets stayed at Tuskegee Institute, so they are unlikely to have used this facility.

Bath and Locker House

Bath and Locker House

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Last updated on February 21, 2020
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