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The South Bay Historical Society Took a Trip Back In Time to the Early Days of the Naval Air Station North Island

Feb 11, 2017 09:47PM ● By Linda Heath

The South Bay Historical Society Took a Trip Back In Time to the Early Days of the Naval Air Station North Island (NASNI).

I was privileged to take a tour with the South Bay Historical Society to the Historical area of Naval Air Station North Island this past Wednesday February 8th.

It was a beautiful day for the tour and a fantastic trip back to an earlier and historic time.  We started off our tour with the original area which housed the Seaplanes from the first group in 1910 and precursors to the founding of  Naval Aviation in 1917.  The hangars and maintenance buildings have remained original with few updates, but now are used for different purposes.  the area is still serviced by steam generators and the plumes rose from below through several steel covers in the area.  Many of the buildings had the look of Art Deco design with very few changes.

It was hard to imagine that the area had been a barren space with scrub vegetation without trees, and was originally beach front where the Seaplanes left there hangars and rolled directly into the bay.  The first group of Naval Aviators stayed only three months before returning to their base on the East Coast after damaging each of the Seaplanes housed there. The area was dubbed "Trouble Island" from that point and for a number of years.

We traveled around these buildings and arrived at a beautiful park area which had huge trees with Egret and Great Blue Herons nests.  It had also been home to many Jack Rabbits which can still be seen throughout the base.

The tour progressed past more historic buildings and came to a courtyard area and the original Command Building which was designed by the famous Architect Bertram Goodhue in the Spanish style with red tile roofs and stucco with ornate door and window framing.

Our travels took us around to the courtyard area behind the Command Building with the new and old architecture blending in as the new buildings were mirrored after the original.
The next stop was the famous "I Bar"  which is housed inside the original Banquet Hall which is Building "I".  The bar is a tremendous source of History with the ceiling covered with mugs from aviators past and present, squadron emblems and memorabilia.  it is a sight to behold!

Our final trip back to the parking lot pasted by the original Officers and lower ranks quarters and the design styles.  The final stop was at the original gate house which has the original windows and over time has been expanded in size to it's present state.
The tour was very thorough and totally interesting.  It was a worthwhile way to spend the morning and it was very informative.  A wonderful time was had by all.
Linda Heath Senior Reporter,



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