The collapse of the semiconductor business and Korea's economic woes in the late 1990s left Wales with more than one big empty shed: factories built with taxpayers' money and opened with a huge fanfare, only for the tenant to up sticks before or shortly after moving in.
Now the Welsh government is worried it might have another "Millennium Dome" on its hands. The just-opened Defence Aviation Repair Agency's 45,000 sq m superhangar at RAF St Athan, near Cardiff, is half full and getting emptier by the month after the Ministry of Defence announced it is shipping out the repair of many of its combat aircraft to operating bases and back to industry.
Opening a showpiece hangar that would put the pride of most private MROs companies to shame at the same time as taking a decision to remove half its business indicates that Tony Blair's much-vaunted mission to "join-up" government is not even working within one ministry in Whitehall.
The superhangar dominates St Athan, a sprawling military base occupied by both the air force and the army. The Welsh Development Agency - charged with finding tenants for much of the 140ha site to create an aerospace centre of excellence - thinks the fact that you have to flash your pass to machine-gun toting military police to enter the facility will be a draw, rather than a drawback, for potential occupants.
Apart from space in the superhangar, the agency says the site's great advantage is that it is full of empty aircraft hangars and other redundant workshops. There is also a large military runway. The fact that most buildings date from the 1950s is not a problem, says the man charged with attracting aerospace companies to St Athan, David Swallow. Companies looking for a new site tend to want to move in quickly, and there is plenty of room for them to build new premises or expand once they are there, he says.
The WDA is confident it can attract high-value industry to St Athan. The rather depressing alternative is McDonaldisation: turning it over to high-density housing and retailing, the fate of many former UK air bases.
The agency's problem is that - even in an flourishing industry - aerospace is not exactly awash with companies looking to relocate either to or within the UK. The MRO sector, if anything, has too much capacity in Europe. St Athan's biggest selling point is not its space - and there is plenty of that. It's people. Hundreds of former DARA technicians - with experience of repairing fast jets - are desperate for work. The WDA's race against time is going to be to bring in potential new employers before these technicians leave the industry or the area.
For a look at what's on offer go to www.wales-uk.com/aerospace