Last week, we visited the Hangar Hotel & Airport Diner in Fredericksburg, Texas. I wanted to share some photos and related music, videos, and movies that you might find interesting. It’s a World-War II themed 50-room hotel built in 1995 that looks like a Quonset hut used by the US Army Air Force in the South Pacific during the 1940’s.
We read an article “Hit the Road” by Eileen Matei in the Texas Coop Power magazine published in June 2014, which we receive as members of the Pedernales Electric Cooperative. The weather was great and Becker Vineyards was having our quarterly wine club pickup party that Sunday, so this sounded like a nice day trip. If you want to read the magazine article too, just click on the image; there is also a slideshow of 5 photos just below it in the article.
Here are some photos that I took during our visit to the Hangar Hotel.
When you first arrive from the parking lot, you see the back of the Hangar Hotel after you walk past an old aircraft sitting out on the lawn, which was being washed down and cleaned that day. There is a tall water tower right next to the hotel.
You can see the two levels of rooms as we walked around the left side of the hotel toward the Airport Diner that was located opposite the hotel right next to the runway, where we planned to have lunch. There is a photo with another view looking back from the runway showing the palm trees and water tower a little better.
The front of the hotel faces the runway of the Gillespie County Airport. There are rocking chairs on the upper and lower porches where guests can watch the sunsets and planes.
The Officer’s Club is the hotel bar and lounge with red leather chairs and fireplace. Just outside the entrance, there is a billboard with a Nose-art pinup girl that reads “I Sleep Like a Baby”. Also there is a searchlight and palm tree reminiscent of the South Pacific during World War II. Outside the Officer’s Club, there is an old wagon for the Fredericksburg Brewing Company, which adds some character to that entrance.
After entering through the Officer’s Club, you come into the hotel lobby, which had old World War II memorabilia everywhere and 1940’s music playing in the background to get you into the mood of that period. There’s an old wooden front desk with mail slots, and there is a row of clocks overhead for major time zones (but I missed that in my photo).
This video from Fun Places to Fly provides a great tour of the Hangar Hotel and Airport Diner.
On one wall in the lobby is an airplane panel with the “The Ruptured Duck” painting from the B25-B medium bomber flown by Ted W. Lawson in the Doolittle Raid over Tokyo after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1942. He piloted the 7th plane in the squadron and after the mission was completed he crashed in the China coast where he was critically injured and had his leg amputated to save his life. When he returned, he wrote the book “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo”, which became a movie in 1944 starring Spencer Tracy, Van Johnson, and Robert Mitchum based on his crew’s experiences (available on DVD from Netflix).
Private planes can fly into Gillespie County Airport and eat at the Airport Diner. It offers a 1940’s theme with Bomber Burgers on the menu and little planes on the counter with mints and hanging as mobiles from the lights. I included a view of the planes on the tarmac from our window booth seat during lunch.
The article also contained this video about fly-in lunching at the Airport Diner next to the Hanger Hotel.
There are plenty of things to do and see in the area. If you have an RV instead of a private plane, there is the Lady Bird Johnson RV Park. If you are driving by car, bring your golf clubs since there is an 18-hole Lady Bird Golf Course, which is a nice place to play during your visit. The Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park has additional amenities including picnic areas, tennis, and swimming pool. About 30 minutes east is the LBJ National Historical Park which features the former president’s home and ranch.
Across the highway is the old Cotton Gin Village, which is a quaint bed-and-breakfast with cabins of various sizes such as the Rio Grande room shown above, which is fairly close to the entrance near the waterfall and fish pond. You can eat dinner at the Cabernet Grill which features Texas cuisine and Texas wine.
Nearby in downtown Fredericksburg, Texas is the National Museum of the Pacific highlighted in this video tour.
National Geographic magazine included the Texas Hill Country as one of the world’s most spectacular car trips in their book on the 500 “Drives of a Lifetime”.
The Texas Hill Country has been selected as one of the Top Ten Wine Travel Destinations for 2014 by Wine Enthusiast magazine. There 14 local wineries just in the Fredericksburg area. These are members of the 42 wineries on the Texas Hill Country Wine Trail.
Here’s some background music for this story. Of course, there’s Moonlight Serenade by Glenn Miller, which was so popular during the war. Also, I have included three different versions of the hit song “Bali Ha’i” from “South Pacific” Broadway musical from 1967, the film in 1995, and a new Broadway show in 2008.
“Moonlight Serenade” by Glenn Miller on “Pure Gold” (1980)
Bali Ha’i by Florence Henderson, Giorgio Tozzi, Irene Byatt, Dana Shimizu, Kennan Shimizu from Original Cast Recording of “South Pacific” (1967)
Bali Ha’i (Reprise) by Florence Henderson, Giorgio Tozzi, Irene Byatt, Dana Shimizu, Kennan Shimizu… on Original Cast Recording of “South Pacific” (1967)
Bali Ha’i (from the 20th Century-Fox film “South Pacific”) by Bloody Mary, The Ken Darby Singers on Original Soundtrack of “South Pacific” (1995)
Bali Hai’i by Loretta Ables Sayre on South Pacific (The New Broadway Cast Recording) (2008)
Reprise: Bali Hai’i by Chorus (Island Women) on South Pacific (The New Broadway Cast Recording) (2008)
For additional information, see the following web sites that were mentioned in this article: Fredericksburg, Hanger Hotel, Airport Diner, Cotton Gin Village, Cabernet Grill, and National Museum of the Pacific War.