Vintage Photos - Santa Ana Naval Air
Station / Marine Corps Air
Station Tustin - Lighter-than-Air (LTA)
Base with Blimp Hangars
From the Navy's
Base Realignment and Closure Program website:
and Historical Use
The former Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS)
Tustin was initially established as a Navy
lighter-than-air (LTA) base and commissioned
in the fall of 1942. The station was used to
support observation blimps and personnel
that were necessary to conduct antisubmarine
patrols off the Southern California coast
during World War II. The facility served as
an LTA base until 1949, when it was
decommissioned. In 1951, the facility was
reactivated to support the Korean Conflict.
It was the country's first air facility
developed solely for helicopter operations.
By the early 1990s, MCAS Tustin was a major
center for Marine Corps helicopter aviation
on the Pacific Coast. Its primary purpose
was to provide support services and material
for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and for
other units utilizing the base. About 4,500
residents once lived on the base, and the
base employed nearly 5,000 military
personnel and civilians. In addition to
providing military support, MCAS Tustin
leased 530 acres to farmers for commercial
crop development. For many years,
agricultural lands surrounded the facility.
However, since the 1980s residential and
light industrial/manufacturing areas have
developed adjacent to the station.
planned reuses, parcels transferred
In 1991 and again in 1993, under the
authority of the Defense Base Closure and
Realignment Act of 1990, it was announced
that MCAS Tustin would be closed.
Operational closure of the MCAS occurred in
July 1999. Of the approximate 1600 acres,
approximately 1294 acres have been conveyed
to the City of Tustin, private developers
and public institutions for a combination of
residential, commercial, educational, and
public recreational and open-space uses.
The remaining 308 +/- acres will be conveyed
to other federal agencies, the City of
Tustin and public institutions for the same
The photos below show mainly
the hangar closest to Redhill Rd. This
will be turned over to the Orange County
government at some time in the future. The
second hangar (seen in one of the photos) will
be turned over to Tustin. The plan
currently is for the Tustin hangar to be torn
and the property used for commercial
buildings and parking. See map at the
bottom of the page.
Click here for vintage
photos of the base over the years.
That page also has links to other sites with
additional information and history on the base.
Map below is courtesy of the City of Tustin
Click map to show a larger image. The location
marked "Orange County Urban Regional Park" shows
the hangar (as a lightly marked rectangle) slated to be transferred
to Orange County control. The hangar
designated for Tustin is shown marked "GO" and
located just about "The District (Vestar)."
© Tustin Area Historical
Society; 395 El Camino Real; Tustin, CA 92780