Preserving and Promoting Kansas Aviation History
In the 1980s, the U.S. Air Force determined that it no longer needed the building that had been Wichita’s municipal airport terminal during the aviation heyday of the 1930s and 40s. At about the same time, the Wichita Aeronautical Historical Association sought a place to house its collections and to expand its role.
It was a perfect match. Still, it has been a challenge to build an institution that matches the potential of the beautiful and historic terminal building and that adequately tells the important story of aviation in Kansas.
Much Progress, Much to Do
Since 1991, when we moved into the cleaned but much-altered and sadly neglected building, we’ve made significant progress. Perhaps our biggest accomplishment is a complete exterior renovation, completed in 2005 at a cost of $900,000. We’ve done a considerable amount of renovation on the interior, as well, but much work remains. Our vision is to restore the grand sense of adventure from the early days of aviation, when legends walked these halls. When Kansas and Wichita were earning the title “Air Capital of the World.”
Our exhibits and archive, meanwhile, are already world-class. We have restored or are restoring a number of aircraft that played key roles in the development of aviation. We have collected and continue to collect a wide variety of aircraft from every era and of nearly every conceivable type. We have thousands of documents, blueprints, photographs, books, periodicals and more – a treasury of history and a boon to aviation research.
A Solid Foundation
As we work to continue interior restoration and improve exhibit presentation, our next major challenge is to raise funds for a hangar and aircraft restoration workshop. Our most significant aircraft must be protected, and an indoor space also will allow for better, more educational presentation. A proper workshop will permit more efficient restoration and will free up space in our main building for a more complete museum experience.
While we acknowledge that we have much work to do to achieve our full vision, we are confident that we have the momentum, the expertise and the will. In the meantime, we have in place the core elements for a truly enlightening view into the fascinating, stunningly rapid development of powered flight over the past century. Please pay us a visit. We think you’ll agree.
For more information, for interviews or to schedule a visit, please call Velda Marcum at 316-683-9242 ext 22 or email her here