Friday, July 28, 2017

Trip to Missouri and Kansas - Wichita, the Air Capital of the World

Boeing Stearman PT 17
Wichita began as a trading post on the Chisholm Trail in the 1860's.  For almost its first century, it would be known as Cowtown USA but it developed into the Air Capital of the World as the home of Cessna and Beechcraft as well as Stearman which eventually became  part of Boeing.  In addition,  Learjet, Airbus and Spirit AeroSystems continue to operate in town.  It is also home to McConnell Air Force Base which houses an Air Mobility Wing.

B 47, the first SAC bomber.  It was based at McConnell
We honored this tradition by visiting the Kansas Aviation Museum located in the original air terminal completed in 1935.  It functioned as Wichita's non-military air terminal until 1954.  During its heyday, it was one of the busiest airports in the United States with a take off or landing every 90 seconds in 1944.  Today the building houses a very interesting museum with many interactive displays about the history of aviation in Wichita.  The ramp space directly outside the building includes static displays of both civilian and military aircraft.

One of the most interesting is one of only nine Beechcraft Starships in existence.  This was a twin turbo prop with the unusual configuration of push engines mounted on the rear and wings also rear mounted.  It never got into full production and apparently was very difficult to fly.

The highlight of our tour was Marilyn's experience in a flight simulator which Andy captured in a thrilling video.

She enjoyed a challenging flight until she didn't and planted the plane and her passengers nose down in the middle of the runway.

After our visit to the museum, we drove to Stearman Field Bar & Grill in Benton KS.  This eatery is part of an executive airfield.  While we were there for lunch, at least two groups flew in and taxied right in front, came in and ate and then flew off.

After lunch, Andy drove us around the area of the airfield.  We are used to seeing homes built around golf courses but this was the first time I had seen homes built right next to an airport with each home having a hangar for their airplane(s.)  This screenshot from a Google map gives you an idea.

You can click here to see more photos of this aviation day in Wichita.

No comments:

Post a Comment