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September 3, 2013

Kansas Aviation Museum

Aviation History, Kansas History, and Kansas Aviation History

Heather Bohrer

By Cory Theobald
Pulse Team Member

Located at the end of George Washington Boulevard, tucked up against Boeing and McConnell, the Kansas Aviation Museum houses not just aviation history, but Wichita history as well. Built in the 1930s as the terminal for the former Wichita Municipal Airport, it was one of the last available stops for pilots to get fuel and up-to-date weather information before crossing the Rockies.
Today, the Art Deco building is home to aircraft spanning decades of manned flight, from a 1927 Laird Swallow to one of the last remaining Beech Starships (donated to the Museum by Beech when the entire fleet was decommissioned in 2003). The factor that makes the collection at the Kansas Aviation Museum unique is that all of the aircraft on display each have a connection to Kansas, and most to the City of Wichita in particular. Many of the aircraft on display were built by Wichita companies, including Beech, Lear, Stearman, Boeing and Cessna, while others have operated out of McConnell Air Force Base, such as the Lockheed T-33 and the KC-135.
Most of the older aircraft are housed inside the museum building, but the newer and larger aircraft are on outdoor display. Unfortunately, being outdoors, and being Kansas, several of the aircraft sustained damage when the tornado touched down in south Wichita in 2012. Fortunately, the Kansas Aviation Museum makes it its’ mission not only to preserve, but to restore. The Museum does this not just through donations, but community volunteers as well, at times receiving aid from the very men and women who built the planes to begin with.
In addition to its’ static displays, the Kansas Aviation Museum also houses an extensive archive collection. The collection includes original aircraft drawings and blueprints from the 1920s and 30s, more than 10,000 aviation books, 15,000 journals and periodicals, and 250,000 photographs dating back to the 20s. The archives are open to the public and have been accessed by many individuals, companies, and even other museums (the Smithsonian, just to name one).
The Kansas Aviation Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm, and Sunday from noon to 5pm. Admission is $8.95 for adults and $6.95 for kids (but, discounts are available). More information is available at the Museum website.


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