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Aviation artifact from 'Casablanca' saved by an inchAviation artifact from 'Casablanca' saved by an inch

Aviation artifact from ‘Casablanca’ saved by an inch

By Alton K. Marsh

Jim Dunn, owner of the Airtel Plaza Hotel and Conference Center at Van Nuys Airport in California, was eating breakfast one day when a friend casually mentioned that the famous Hangar 2 was about to be demolished. It was the first biplane hangar constructed before the airport opened in 1928 and was seen in the movie Casablanca.

“When?” Dunn asked.

“Now!”

Dunn bolted from breakfast and arrived at the hangar just in time to encourage the bulldozer operator to give him a few days of reprieve. That brought out the developer of the land who turned out to be a friend of Dunn’s and, like Dunn, a pilot. Dunn succeeded in getting the façade moved to the parking lot of his hotel where it will go on display.

The hangar was seen when the evil Nazi Major Heinrick Strasser arrived at the Casablanca Airport. (All aircraft were grounded by the way, so it could only taxi.) But the actual scene took place on a sound stage when Humphrey Bogart sent Ingrid Bergman off with her husband, telling her she’ll regret it if she’s not on that plane “...maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.”

The hangar also made one last comeback in show business in the wildly popular One Six Right by Brian J. Terwilliger.

“It will be a movie set,” Dunn promised. “People will have theme parties there.”

He hopes to have it ready for its close-up by summer, but it could take longer. It will be visible to those who land at Van Nuys.

February 7, 2008

Alton Marsh

Alton K. Marsh

Freelance journalist
Alton K. Marsh is a former senior editor of AOPA Pilot and is now a freelance journalist specializing in aviation topics.

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