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Time Changes Most Things

written and designed by Christopher Ogaz

Acknowledgements First and for most, I want to thank the Moffett field historical society museum for being so kind and helpful throughout the duration of this very difficult project. First I would like to thank all the interviewed, who gave up there own time to help me, and that shows true dedication. I would like to thank Dan Sullivan, Bill Stubjkjaer and Eugene R. Choiniere ‘Frenchie’. All of this book would not be the way it is with out there care and dedication. I would also like to thank the museum secretary who helped me set up my interviews. Furthermore I would also like to thank my parents for putting up with me for these past months of the project, as it has been very difficult. I also want to thank my teachers at the freestyle academy, Ms. Parkinson Mr. Florendo Mr. Greco Mr. Taylor

Table of Contents Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Chapter 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Chapter 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Chapter 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Conclusion . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . .


Work Sited . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Foreword This topic became interesting to me when I recalled my parents taking me to the Moffett Field historical society museum along time ago. I remember being particularly impressed with the museum but surprised with the lack of people at the museum. Following my experience at the museum, I asked my friends if they knew of MFHS. I was shocked that they didn’t, especially because the museum is so rich in history about the bay area and the development of Mountain View, from an agricultural area to a technology hub. So when the chance of uncovering a location based subject came my way, MFHS came immediately to mind. I hoped, if there was anything I could do for this museum it would be to use the skills that I have acquired at Freestyle to uncover the vast amount of hidden stories at the museum and Moffett Field in general. History, in my opinion deserves a second look, because “if you don’t know where you came from you don’t know where you are headed” (Sullivan, Dan 2/8/14). I wanted to uncover the history of Moffett Field at first, because many people are so unaware of the purposes and achievements of Moffett. But it then dawned on me that I should focus on the community aspect of Moffett, while it may sound a little weird, one step into the museum and the feelings of family/community are overwhelming. Besides, one of my key values as a person is family comes first, other than religion. I wanted to show people what Moffett is (so that people see where Moffett has come from), I wanted to show people where Moffett is going (what the future currently holds for Moffett). Then most importantly I want to show what things at Moffett really didn’t change from the history, to the future; that would be the sense of community/ family. To figure out the rich history of Moffett, I decided to go to the Moffett Field historical society museum. There I learned everything I needed to know about Moffett Field, such as the proper meaning of the word dirigible, to the first name Moffett Field was initially called, N.A.S Sunnyvale. While learning all of these things was fascinating, it did not have it’s shares of difficulty. Going back and forth to the museum every weekend for about a month presented my greatest challenge. While Moffett Field is not far away, the sheer amount of time I needed to spend at moffett field to get all my photos and interviews was exponential. In fact, if my father had not taken time off work, then I couldn’t have used his NASA ID badge to get onto Moffett whenever I needed to get photos. Another challenge happened to be the fact that the museum was open at times that tended to be inconvenient to me. The only day I could really conduct my interviews was on Saturday, from the time of 10:00 am to 2:00 p.m. Thankfully, with dedication and time commitment from both me and my family we were able to work through these challenges. And while this project was difficult and stressful, I grew as an interviewer and writer. Before this project, the very thought of interviewing someone made me nervous, because words tend to slip out of my mouth when I don’t mean them to. Similarly, writing often falls is the same trap. It is by and far not my forte, but I feel this project has forced me to stretch my boundaries and venture relatively unknown territory for me…….. 7



t is as they say, a state of mind, an idea, a feeling,a sense that can only be felt by the deep caverns of the warm, beating, human heart. The wind rolls and laps across the concrete inlaid land. The light, sparse, and cool cloud cover blankets the desolate city, that is very slow and quiet, with little to speak of except for the dancing of the flag on the venerated and long lived pole. The smell of the bay, regenerating and fresh provides for a calm, relaxing and classic atmosphere. Crunch on the brittle gravel, and step on the pavement cracks incontinently drops you into a pastel painting of history, that is very much alive, but feels unreal. But as unreal as it might seem, it has done much and changed little. Once celebrated, now forgotten. It served all people, but only encompasses a new type of people. A once ordinary person never comes out how he entered. He becomes part of something. Something only a mind can decide, and the soul can do; conjunct into one body, a family. A family? What is so important about a sense of family? Perhaps some of us overlook this idea, especially these days, when everyone is fighting to get the best grade, to get into the absolute best college, to get the best job, to have the newest technol-

ogy even though it was built with planned obsolescence in mind. The thing is all of those things can change at the drop of a hat. For example, ‘I have money to buy the NEW iphone 5s’, but on the way to the sprint store, your car gets rear ended and totaled. That money you had saved up, is probably going to go to extensive car repairs or replacement, instead a new gadget. Or how about, ‘I have the grades to go

to Harvard’, but one night you were busy feeding the needy at your local church, and you fail your psychology AP test the next day. Your grade falls to a C, and you try to bring up the grade but it isn’t enough, and you end the semester with a b-. Harvard is no longer interested in you as a top performing student. Things like this happen all the time, If there is thing I, a pessimist understand more than anything is life is always full of disappointments. But there are things that tend to be reli-

able; take family and friends, for example. Community, is the essence that keeps us humans motivated. As people we don’t take incentives lightly, but it is also a fact that we need family. In fact people often gravitate towards it.* That is what moffett has, a group of people that come together, who are very close and something in there life relates to those who surround them.~One step into moffett field and these are the feelings that assimilate. The sense of family and roots in great history is awe-inspiring. It then live’s on as legacy in the hearts and minds of people who served and continue to serve. In essence it lives as a continuum. That’s what builds a family, and a strong community. Moffett Field, even though it is located in between the cities of mountain view and Sunnyvale for over 80 years, it is still quite unknown to our area. What is even more unknown is the history of it and the people who severed there. Moffett field was a very impressive base, with the most advanced technology of the era and served as an imperative naval base for national security. But the community that still resides due to this base is strong, a generation of a people who continue to serve, not in the navy but in our countries preservation of OUR history. While time has changed a lot at moffett, something has never,and will never change……... 9

Chapter 1 The Good Old Days


he The creation of Moffett Field was a very interesting one indeed. It actually started in a time in American aviation that was distinctly known as “lighter than air”. The past eighty years has passed since the creation of Moffett Field, thus in manages to encompass a plethora of history-- from the housing of giant airships, to the base of NASA Ames, Moffett Field has seen it all. Yet even when considering all of this, you must keep in mind that many of the stories of the accomplishments of Moffett Field have gone untold, even to the immediate area. So what is Moffett Field, technically? “Moffett Field is currently a federal airfield, it is a formal, a former air station, it, what used to be the base, the old navy base is now the Ames, NASA Ames research park…” (Stubkjaer, Bill 2/8/2014)

remained strictly experimental for a century until Graf Ferdinand von Zeppelin caused the Germans to move permanently into the forefront of the field. Indeed the word zeppelin became a generic term for the dirigible. Americans did little in the early period of experimenting with lighter-than-air craft, but when they saw the power of German zeppelins on bombing raids over

In making this argument, Bill acknowledges all of the important accomplishments that Moffett Field has done, from the giant airships such as the U.S.S Macon, All the way to the basing of NASA Ames. So where did the crazy idea of the zeppelin come from? According to the book “dirigibles” written by Judith S. Baughman…. The French invented the airship in the late eighteenth century, but the craft

England in World War I and watched while the huge craft soaked up antiaircraft fire and then floated away, they vowed to get into the program. (“Dirigibles.” American Decades. Ed. Judith S. Baughman) So how is the creation of the zeppelin relevant to Moffett Field? As I said earlier, Moffett was created in a time known as lighter than air, the premise

was to use zeppelins (a type of dirigible) for reconnaissance (military activity in which soldiers, airplanes, etc., are sent to find out information about an enemy) Merriam Webster. “Moffett Field was created as the giant maintenance base and refurbishing base for the giant airships that they were going to build, that they built I should say” ( Eugene ‘Frenchie’ Choiniere, 2/8/2014). Essentially what Frenchie is saying is that moffett field was built to house these airships, that was it, no other immediate reason. Later on Moffett evolved into various other things, but that was the reason for Moffett’s creation was the dirigibles. Moffett used these dirigibles, which were essentially giant gas bags that could be steered to scout land or sea for reconnaissance. Zeppelins could float and hover for long intervals of time so the navy decided to use this slow, floating ability to their advantage. Around the same time as the lighter than air was the creation and advancement of submarines, which are vessels that can submerge under the surface of the ocean for certain periods of time, and in war were used to attack merchant ships carrying wartime supplies. Because they could submerge, it made them hard to detect, especially because there was no good and effective forms


of radar. Because of this, the navy ended up using dirigibles and blimps to do the scouting for submarines in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. What made blimps so effective was their great range of distance, and their slow speed. But isn’t faster better? In this case, no. That is because submarines, especially at that time, were not very fast. So from up above sweeping by in an airplane with no radar, they are hard to detect. Secondly, most submarines would attack merchant ships and vessels that travel in a convoy, which travel at a slow speed, slower than an airplane was able to fly. Besides, most convoys go at the speed of the slowest ship, which is the relative speed of a dirigible, so the navy used them to transport the convoy as an intimidation factor. Dirigibles were also equipped with something called a depth charge that the airship could drop into the water and would create a Shockwave of water that would slam into the submarine and could sink them.


After I learned all of this, I wanted to ask what the volunteers at MFHS what they thought to be the most impressive event that had ever occurred at Moffett Field. A docent named Frenchie responded, “I would imagine the single most important thing would be the housing of

giant airships, one of the two giant airships, the Macon here was the single most important thing, which gets back to what Dan here said about changing the valley dramatically and so having that airship and airbase built here in the South Bay changed it…” ( Eugene ‘Frenchie’ Choiniere, 2/8/2014) Earlier you heard me mention a little about it, but what is the Macon and why so is important in the first place? The Macon, actually named The ‘U.S.S. MACON’, can be most simply described as a monster zeppelin, that was only shrunk by the iconic Hindenburg by a mere 20 feet. That means that it was 784 feet long, over the length of 2 football fields, which are 360 feet respectively. It was by and large an amazing thing of it’s time, although very little of it is left, unless you count the giant hangar in which it was stored. That continues to stand, although debates on tearing it down have been roaming for nearly a decade now. Hangar One is the only real reminiscence and physical tie that the bay area has to the U.S.S. MACON, which was the real reason Moffett was initially created to do, house the airship. The Macon was successfully pressed into operations, patrolling small coastal areas rather than carrying out longrange flights. Nevertheless, she be-

came the aircraft carrier navy planners had envisioned. On 12 February 1935, however, during what was intended as a routine scouting training between San Diego and Long Beach, a sudden gust of wind struck the machine, breaking one of the rear frames and damaging gas cells. Listing to the rear, the ship hit the water and sank within forty-five minutes. All but two of the crew survived. Thus ended the era of the American rigid airship. (“Ships in the Clouds: the Golden Age of Airships.” American Decades. Judith S. Baughman) You also have to understand that because Moffett Field was created to house the U.S.S. MACON, when it crashed it took several years for the government to know what to do with Moffett Field. Eventually in World War II, the government decided to use Moffett Field as a reconnaissance airfield. In other words, Moffett was created based upon the principles of anti-submarine warfare. I tell you all of this because, as I have already told you, Dan likes to mention, “if you don’t know your history you don’t know where you are headed”. As I interviewed people at the Moffett Field Historical Society museum, stars started to align, and I realize that Moffett Field’s family still lives on. The best place to see that is in the museum where many retired peo-

ple, mostly veterans, come back to the family that they are forever a part of.


Moffett field, it is a formal, a former air station, it, what used to be the base, the old navy base is now the Ames, NASA Ames research park, Um, but in some sense it is really a state of mind, uh it’s all the people who served here, from the airships all the way to the p-3’s, including the people serving the people serving today, the 129th rescue wing, the army reserve unit’s that are stationed here, even though they are off the property, they are still a part of the Moffett field family. So you can almost view it as being a historic continuum from 1933 up to today

Chapter 2 Facing the Future


ow that we know the history of Moffett, what does the future hold for it? I mean, the future has to have something in store for moffett, even if it is not a positive thing. According to volunteers at the Moffett Field Historical Museum it will be “Remembered because it is a piece of history here and we don’t have much in the way of history here on the west coast and the hangar is a piece of history and all the things that have gone on here like NASA and Google and the rest of the things. It is going to be an important place, I think, in the future” (Choiniere, Eugene R. or ‘Frenchie’, MFHS Head Docent 2/8/2014) So Google will be preserving Moffett Field. Google? Yes, soon Google will be leasing out the east side off Moffett Field, or in other words the runway for several years to come. Of course that comes to the expense of Google to preserve the rich history at Moffett. That begs the question, what will Google do to preserve Moffett Field? Recently Google said that it will give enough money to allow Hangar One to be reskinned and the retrofit of hangars Two and Three. It will still continue to be a private, and fairly unused air field, but Google has made it clear that they will preserve it’s essential and grand history.

As part of the deal, Google Inc. must renovate the airfield’s three hangars, including one that is a Silicon Valley landmark because of its massive size and location of a major highway. Google also has agreed to upgrade a golf course located next to the airfield. “We are delighted to move ahead in the selection process and we look forward to working with both GSA and NASA to preserve the heritage of Moffett Federal Airfield,” Google said in a statement Monday.…….Google is also paying for expensive repairs unlikely ever to be financed by the government…….Restoring the airfield’s most prominent structure, the 200-foot-tall Hangar One, will be particularly expensive. Hangar One’s original siding was removed because of contamination from toxic lead and asbestos, raising the risks that the historic edifice might eventually have to be torn down. The cost of covering the nowskeletal hangar is expected to be more than $40 million…… Earlier I noted hangar one, and that it housed the U.S.S MACON, ONE OF THE LARGEST AIRSHIPS EVER BUILT. I also noted that since the crash of the Macon in the Monterey bay, we really don’t have very much of the Macon left. That’s a pretty big deal, especially because we actually don’t have much left of any of the giant air-

ships. Secondly hangar one was and still remains to be the tallest building in mountain view, and has a unique style that has since been lost. One of the best ways to gauge the size of hangar one is to relate it to a football field. What does hangar one have in common with a football field? It relates to a football field because it manages to squeeze SIX AMERICAN FOOTBALL FIELDS OF SPACE INSIDE! That is made possible, of course by it’s enormous exterior dimensions, managing to be more than 1000 feet long 200 feet high and 300 feet wide. That was pretty impressive for the two small farming towns of mountain view and Sunnyvale, who before it’s completion, had never seen anything built to that scale. Another cool fact about this Icon, that people often don’t know, happens to be the age of the building. It was completed in 1933 in the early stages of a time known as lighter than air, a time period as I mentioned before, in which we have very little physical connection left today. Besides, hangar one’s age also happens to be older than two other bay area Icons which had not been completed yet, the bay and golden gate brides! So as you can expect, Google’s presence at moffett field has bestowed a huge relief to the many locals fearing that we were in the midst of losing a well recognized historic icon.



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A second benefit of Google’s presence at Moffett Field will be the spike of employment, which, while not scant, will improve our local economy, especially through this long recession “I see employment and an economic boom here if everything works out. The details are still not there yet, but at this point, they are kind of counting their chickens before they hatch. I would prefer to have an ‘wait and see’ attitude to it, but I am positive about it and as far as preservation of the hangar. There is very little of the real hangar left--all there is,is a frame, about 75% of it. The rest of it was the interior and I can tell you that it’s all gone, but the frame is preserved. That’s what people see, anyway, but I feel very positive about that.” (Sullivan, Dan, 2/8/2014) As I said earlier, Google’s presence will impact a lot of history. It will save Hangar One, which is rich in history, and has had the ominous terror of it’s disassembly lingering above it for years now. What, disassembly, for what? Okay, the reason that hangar one is a bare structure (as you can see as my chapter two cover), is due to a lack of maintenance. That later led to the contamination of it and the surrounding area, forcing the navy to remove the toxic siding. Hangar One is a massive enclosure built in 1932 to house the U.S. Navy’s

west coast dirigible, the USS Macon. After the Macon was lost at sea in 1935, Hangar One served as an aircraft hangar for the U.S. Naval Air Station at Sunnyvale, later renamed Moffett Field. In 1994, the NASA Ames Research Center, resident at Moffett Field since 1939, took over as custodian of the field from the Navy. In 2002, high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were found to be leaching from the exterior panels of Hangar One. In studying its various options for remediating the hazardous materials on the hangar, the Navy recently announced that it would not rule out full demolition of the hangar. Local communities and preservation groups reacted loudly and swiftly. The hangar itself does not hold historic landmark status, though it is a contributing element to the Shenandoah Plaza historical district at Moffett Field. In an area generally devoid of distinctive architecture, Hangar One is one of the most recognizable buildings in Silicon Valley. Since the publication of the quote, the contaminants have been properly removed, and the hangar will no longer have to be completely demolished. However there has been a long debate on who will re-skin it, as it will cost a fortune to do so. Now that Google is going to be leasing out the east side of

moffett field, it is their responsibility to re-skin the mammoth of a building. Google’s presence will also repair the runway, once one of the longest in the area. The repairs will also affect hangars Two and Three-- among the last of the giant wooden freestanding structures. And then you have the employment that Google will bring in, all adding up to what looks to be a great new transition for Moffett. Still, not everyone is made happy by this news. In most ways it’s a positive move: more money, more taxes, more city funding, right? However, there have been complaints about air traffic and noise that might “come from this area” and that tends to make the public upset, which still leaves people wondering what exactly is going to happen to Moffett and how will Google use this space. What ever the publics reaction to this whole plan is not my issue, I am just glad that these historic structures will finally be utilized and saved from the dark fate that many other airfields have endured.


Chapter 3 The Things Time Can’t Even Change


rom the time when the land was first bought and transformed into N.A.S Sunnyvale, to the time the navy established it Moffett Field-- from the time the Macon crashed, to the day in age when the p-3 Orions were used. Moffett Field has evolved lots over the past 81 years, although that is the way time ordinarily operates. Very few things can escape the clasps of time, but there are things that hardly ever change. One such example of this would be the idea of a strong community, in essence a family. To no Suprise, everyone has some sort of family, while some are more broken than others, it would be hard to visualize a world lacking the conceptualization of a family. Family is the theoretical glue that holds and binds all people together, somehow, some way. Without it, even as rudimentary as the definition of what a family is, it manages to corroborate how imperative it is to the human race. That is what Moffett has, a family-- a group of people who all share something in common, who believe in the preservation of our nations history. In some ways you can think of it as a galère, the french word meaning “a group of people having an attribute in common” (Merriam Webster’s Dictionary). Bill Stubkjaer, the curator at the Moffett Field historical society museum explains

All the people who served here, from the airships all the way to the p-3’s, including the people serving the people serving today, the 129th rescue wing, the army reserve unit’s that are stationed here, even though they are off the property, they are still a part of the Moffett Field family.

my own eyes the family that lives on here in the community at Moffett. One step into the Moffett Field Historical Society Museum and you see an assembly of people, who I believe have a similar central value that they all share in common. As Eugene ‘Frenchie’ Choiniere said that he volunteered here for many reasons, but one of the main reasons is …...

I am more less going backto the people, the kind of people, that I was around the durning that time, and that is worth it’s weight in gold to me…

“I am more less going back to the people, the kind of people, that I was around the during that time, and that is worth it’s weight in gold to me….”

( Bill Stubkjaer, 2/8/2014) In other words, Bill is saying that all of the people who have served at Moffett Field are a part of something greater, a family. Note the very word Stubkjaer intentionally used. Family. Of all of the many words there are in this vast universe, when he described the sensation that he feels while at the Moffett base, family is the word that spills out of his lips. You might beg the question, why would I take the time to write a book on the history and future of Moffett Field, then hastily write about the family that resides at Moffett? That is because, like Stubkjaer, I have seen with

In essence, what Choiniere is saying that the family that he was a part of, and is still a part of, stays with a person for the rest of their life. Isn’t that what a family is, a group of people who are always there for you when you need them. My family would drop anything to help one of our fellow family members, even if they are not related through blood and are a close friend; it wouldn’t matter to us. Family is always with you, through thick and thin, and more importantly will always love you. And those things can, and will never change, no matter how much time passes by. You probably have a strong family or community that you are a part of, and you know how it feels to go to a place in which you know that


you never have to feel alone. You are around those with similar traits as you, and you are In a safe place where no one will judge you because you made a mistake. A place in which differences and animosity are tossed aside and you must come together and accept each other for who you are. That is what MFHS and the greater Moffett field has. This is described simply as ‘the Moffett field family’.



I think it will become, it will be remembered if if the things we do at the museum are continued on with who ever succeed us the new museum or what ever but it will be remembered as very important




think it will become, it will be remembered if the things we do at the museum are continued on with who ever succeed us the new museum or what ever but it will be remembered as very important (Dan Sullivan, 2/8/14) So in the end, it boils down to what will remain the same and what will not stay the same. Will moffett be remembered? As Dan explains above, he believes that it might, but at the same

time, he believes that it can only be made possible by the means of a museum. While I strongly agree with that I also believe that without the museum it would be hard to see the community here at Moffett field. I believe that a lot of things have gotten lost here at Moffett, including peoples understanding of its family. In fact I believe that these day’s very few people understand what a good community and family is, even though it is such an imperative aspect of any humans life. Yet at mof-

fett a family is still present, hidden in a small little museum tucked next to the giant hangar one. Here, they show how history gets made because time can change most everything, that is except for a community.


Work cited 1) Choiniere, “Frenchie”, eugene R. “personal interview” 8 Feb. 2014. 2) Sullivan, Dan “personal interview” 8 feb. 2014. 3) Bill Stubkjaer. “personal interview” 8 feb. 2014 4) “Ships in the Clouds: the Golden Age of Airships.” American Decades. Judith S. Baughman, et al. Vol. 4: 1930-1939. Detroit: Gale, 2001. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 28 Jan. 2014 5) “Dirigibles.” American Decades. Ed. Judith S. Baughman, et al. Vol. 3: 1920-1929. Detroit: Gale, 2001. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 28 Jan. 2014. 6) “volume 23-1” News and Notes Article. Nasa History Division, n.d. Web. Feb. 2006 “How to Make Vegetarian Chili.” eHow. Demand Media, n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2009. 7) “Airships and Moffett field” Daly City Journal. Darold Fredricks. Web. 22 July. 2013. 8) “Google subsidiary to run Moffett Federal Airfield” cbs news AP, n.d. web 11 Feb. 2014.


Christopher ogaz  
Christopher ogaz