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‘Country Style’ Helicopter Hangar

It’s big, 60’ wide and 104’ long. It reaches 46’ tall at the peak.  A 40’ x 16’ Schweiss hydraulic door is neatly camouflaged into the front wall.   It’s ‘Country Red’.  Its roof line is punctuated with two handsome 4’ x 4’ cupolas.  And it also sports matching 16’ wide ‘lean-tos’ on both sides of this beautiful country structure that does indeed look like an ‘old time country barn’.  But country barn it isn’t.

This ‘eye catching’ post frame building is the new headquarters of Reynolds Aerial Service, Mansfield, IL. Owners are Paul & Kimberly Reynolds.  Parked inside are his two Bell 47 helicopters equipped with 80-gallon tanks and 32’ wide spray booms.  The south ‘lean-to’ is the business office plus three horse stalls for the part-time pleasure of the Reynolds girls, horseback riding in their country neighborhood.  The 16’ x 104’ ‘lean-to’ on the other side of the building will likely be a gathering place for trailers and tractors.  And of course extra space for the tools, paraphernalia, shop gear, etc., that just always tends to show up when you build a structure big enough to ‘attract all this other stuff’.

“We’re just so totally pleased with this new structure.  Perhaps bragging just a bit but with the extra touches of my wife Kimberly, plus Noah and his crew, this really is a handsome building,” commented Paul Reynolds.

Contractor was Graber Buildings Inc., Sullivan, IL, about an hour from Reynolds property.  Construction started the first week in December with finishing touches completed the first week in February. Noah Kauffman, co-owner with his brother-in-law, said he had a 6-man crew on this project.  Weather was mostly great for a mid-winter construction challenge.

‘Yes, this got to be a fun project. Paul’s wife, Kimberly, had some neat ideas for some special touches such as the extra windows with special white frames,” said Kauffman. He added, “We had a great crew on this project and that’s what makes these projects so good.  Also that big Schweiss hydraulic door fit perfectly. I’m just very satisfied with the Schweiss door people and so are the Reynolds,” said Kauffman.

Those special touches included a 12’ x 12’ slider door fastened into the front edge of the big hydraulic door of the helicopter hangar. Though this slider door doesn’t open, with white cross bucks and windows, this ‘fake’ slider door does indeed add a country touch to the big structure.

“It was important that this building had some character and country charm, with two separate roof lines with windows between them, the traditional red color, and the extra windows built into the Schweiss door accomplishes this,” commented Kimberly.

The hydraulic door is a Schweiss hydro powered unit built by the Minnesota manufacturing firm famed for Schweiss doors on airport hangars across America.   Schweiss is rapidly getting the construction and architectural world aware of the fact that Schweiss also manufactures a great line of hydraulic powered doors.  And it’s this 40’ x 16’ Schweiss Hydro that captured the fancy of both Kauffman and Paul Reynolds.

Graber Buildings had some earlier experience with other Brands of hydraulic door and it wasn’t good.  “We had to tear out that door.  It was an engineering failure. Since that bad experience we’ve installed 5 Schweiss units and their quality is suburb; so too is their service.  Anyone looking for a great hydraulic door should certainly consider the Schweiss brand,” commented Kauffman.

The entire building has steel siding and steel roof. Eventually an in floor heating system and interior insulation will make this a year-round facility for maintenance work of spray equipment and nurse trucks.

The aerial spraying business of Reynolds Aerial Service is in its fifth year.  His 21-year old daughter Kelsy is also a licensed pilot, flying both airplanes and helicopters, could very well be piloting with her father eventually.

Summed  up Paul Reynolds, “We wanted a building that complements our home.  We live in the country outside a small farming community.  We needed an office for our aerial spraying business.. And we needed a big door so that we could easily pull our helicopters inside without having to fold and unfold the spray booms each time.  We will set our choppers on small trailers for quick access to this new indoor shop.”

This new structure ended up bigger than he originally anticipated. “We did a lot of research on what we needed, even making scale models of both the structure and our helicopters and different equipment that’s part of this business.  Moving these scale-sized items around inside the scaled drawing of our potential new structure we could see we might be building to small.

“My wife added another 16’ to the length of the building after we had already signed the contract with Noah.  But you know what?  She may have better vision than I do.  Already that ‘extra space’ seems to be coming into use.”

The south-side ‘lean to’ houses the business office, plus restroom and utility room, a heated workshop and the three horse-stalls, each equipped with ‘Dutch Doors’  for more of that extra touch. The two cupolas also sport copper weather vanes.

Even the big hydraulic door had some ‘cosmetic surgery’.   Factory equipped with black rubber sealers across the top line, Reynolds noted that black hinge line ‘stood out like a sore thumb’.  So he went to Otto Canvas in Arthur, IL, an Amish community and had them sew on a red canvass fabric used for outdoor awning.

His comments on the Schweiss door?  “Quality and engineering design is really good.  The hydraulic power units work smooth and quite fast.  The remote control for opening and closing is convenient. So far the door is perfect and it gives us exactly the look we want for the total building.

“Also because the building will eventually be heated I questioned if a sliding door would give you a tight seal around the bottom and edges for good heat control.  This Schweiss hydraulic fits like a glove.  It’s going to be easy to insulate and to keep the heat inside the building.”

Noah Kauffman’s first acquaintance with Schweiss was at a trade show.  He suggests people should take a look at the Schweiss website.  “It packs a bunch of really good information and suggests lots of ideas for different uses of Schweiss doors, both the hydraulic and their bi-fold versions,” noted Kauffman.  His firm now builds between 80 and 100 structures yearly.  He graciously acknowledges the strong farm income in recent years has been a boon to his construction business be that machinery sheds, horse barns, even several commercial business structures.

Reynolds was in the heavy equipment and aggregate sales his previous 20 years until the 2008 economic bust hit America, and his industry.  His flight training was courtesy of Uncle Sam right out of high school.  The Desert Shield/Desert Storm stint in the early 1990s was his last hurrah with the U.S. military.  However he stayed current on his flight certificate and 5 years ago farmers began asking him to take on an aerial crop spraying business.  He chose helicopters because of more precise spraying patterns.  Today 90% of his business is fungicide applications on corn and soybeans.  And he too is grateful for the technology intrigue of farmers who keep ramping up crop protection programs.