100 Years of Aviation Progress
1916-1917  to  2016-2017

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Wichita Planemakers, past & present - Geneaology Chart - CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE
Wichita PlaneMakers,
past & present - Geneaology Chart
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Kansas Aircraft Factories, past & present - CLICK ON MAP TO ENLARGE
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past & present
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Trend-Setters in Speed:  1929 Travel Air Mystery Ship and Boeing B-47 Stratojet - CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE
Trend-Setters in Speed: 1929 Travel Air Mystery Ship and Boeing B-47 Stratojet
For journalistic & educational use only


...from the
Wichita Aviation Centennial Year,
September 2016 –
– September 2017:


on the


NOTE: The following events are listed in reverse chronological order (most-recent events first).
Kansas aviation historian Walt House speaking in the 2015 film 'Indians in Aviation' at the Kansas Aviation Museum, in front of a 1930s Stearman 4D biplane he helped to restore.
Kansas aviation historian Walt House speaking in the 2015 film "Indians in Aviation" at the Kansas Aviation Museum, in front of a 1930s Stearman 4D biplane he helped to restore.

  • July, 2017
    Kansas Aviation Historian Walt House, 86, "flown west"

    Leading Kansas aviation historian Walt House, 86, has died -- "flown west" (into the sunset) as pilots say. With him goes a lifetime of great influence in the preservation and promotion of Kansas aviation history. House was well-known by Kansas media and scholars as the primary source of knowledge on the history of Wichita aviation, and Kansas aviation, and appeared frequently on stage, TV and film, sharing that history with the public.

    Best known as the longtime curator and chief historian of the Kansas Aviation Museum (KAM), in Wichita, House served on its board, and recently as restorations manager.

    The museum's longest-serving former executive director, Lon Smith, described House's knowledge of local aviation and aircraft as "amazing," noting House's remarkable familiarity with the intimate details of early Kansas airplanes.

    "He was indeed a major resource," said Wichita State University history Professor Jay Price, who guides the college's Local and Community History Program -- adding, "What a loss to local aviation history."

    "It is a huge loss," echoed Molly McMillin, the former aviation reporter for the Wichita Eagle, (now managing editor of The Weekly of Business Aviation, that industry's principal newsletter). "He was always patient and kind, and had so much knowledge in his head," said McMillin, who consulted him for articles. She described him to the Wichita Eagle, as an "invaluable... community resource."

    House was among the handful of key historians who helped to establish the date of the Wichita Aviation Centennial (Sept.2016--Sept.2017), as he did for the Kansas Aviation Centennial five years earlier.

    House began his love affair with aviation as a child. A close cousin recalls over a dozen aircraft models, painstakingly crafted from popsicle sticks, hung throughout his bedroom -- and visitors were warned not to touch them. When a neighbor offered a ride in his biplane, young Walt knew his mother would not approve, and decided to go anyway, deciding that "it was worth the whipping," according to colleague Harold Walter.

    Burrton, Kansas high school classmates John and Willa Edwards (Willa grew up across the street from House's rural Kansas home) remember Walt as a quiet person, but active in extracurricular affairs, including the small-town obligatory role as a football teammate.

    As Walt matured, he joined the military, eventually retiring in the upper echelon of enlisted personnel, as a Senior Master Seargeant in the Air Force -- then turned to work at Boeing-Wichita, where he worked until final retirement -- only to dive into volunteer work helping to bring the Kansas Aviation Museum to life.

    Following his funeral in Wichita (at St. Thomas Aquinas Church), he was laid to rest in his hometown of Burrton, Kansas (between Hutchinson and Newton, an hour northwest of Wichita), in a ceremony highlighted by military honors and a missing-man formation flyover by Wichita-built Boeing/Stearman biplanes.

    For more on this popular and pivotal icon of Kansas aviation history, see:

    "Aviation historian Walt House dies at age 86,"
    the Wichita Eagle, July 4/5, 2017
    ...which recounts Walt's life and legacy, quotes some of his professional admirers, and notes the schedule of his memorial events.
    "Walter Dean House flies West,"
    OX5 Aviation Pioneers website
    July 4, 2017
    Front row (L-to-R): Walt House with wife Carol, Bobbie Walter;  back row: Richard Harris, Harold Walter.
    Kansas aviation historian Walt House (lower-left) and wife Carol, in front of aviation centennial chairman Richard Harris, with OX-5 Club leaders Harold and Bobbie Walter (right).


    NOTE: The following events are listed in reverse chronological order (most-recent events first).

    The Wichita Aviation Centennial will be commemorated and discussed at the following upcoming events, this spring, with a dynamic Wichita Aviation History slideshow presentation, Wichita Aviation History show presented by Harris vividly depicting and explaining the evolution of the Air Capital City, and its world-famous aircraft, aviation industry and pioneers. Centennial chairman and aviation historian, Richard Harris -- a former aviation industry journalist who has worked throughout Wichita's aviation industry -- will generally be the presenter. More details will be posted here closer to the event dates:

    • April 13 - Thurs., 10am-11am
      WICHITA -
      Kansas Aviation Museum,

      Senior Thursday program
      (aimed at seniors, but all are welcome)
      "The Air Capital Story - How Wichita Won:
      From Wichita's early aviation pioneers
      to American airpower in World War II."

      Dynamic slideshow presentation & discussion with Wichita Aviation Centennial historian Richard Harris, covering Wichita's aviation pioneers -- Cessna, Laird, Beech, Stearman, Moellendick, and more -- the emerging Wichita aviation industry that soon was breaking records, outproducing every other city in America, earning the official title "Air Capital City," surviving the ravages of the Great Depression, and emerging as one of the nation's foremost centers of warpower manufacturing in World War II.

    • May 11 - Thurs., 10am-11am
      WICHITA -
      Kansas Aviation Museum,

      Senior Thursday program
      (aimed at seniors, but all are welcome)
      "The Air Capital Story - Bombers to Bizjets: Wichita's aviation industry from WWII to today." Lively slideshow presentation & discussion with Wichita Aviation Centennial historian Richard Harris. Covering Wichita's transition from World War II production to global dominance in lightplane aviation, to Cold War leadership in jet bombers, to dominance in military trainers, mini-airliners, and business aircraft worldwide. Wichita's aviation enterprises, big and small -- and their people and products -- shown in their place in world aviation.

  • April 9 - Sunday, 2-3 pm
    WINFIELD - Winfield Public Library
    As part of the Winfield library's 6-month aerospace education collaboration with NASA, a series of speakers will elaborate on the history of aviation and astronautics, particularly with Kansas connections. Wichita Aviation Centennial chairman will present his Kansas Aviation History show, depicting the dynamic history of Wichita aviation,and Kansas aviation as a whole.

  • March 7–March 28, on Tuesdays, 7pm-9pm
    WICHITA - Wichita State Univesity

    (at Hughes Metropolitan Complex,
    29th Street at Oliver)
    History of Wichita Aviation course

    ...taught by Beccy Tanner, the Wichita Eagle newspaper's history writer, a WSU Community Education Program course, was open to the general public (for a $69 fee). Through various guest speakers with special expertise, it examined how Wichita became the world’s “Air Capital” and whether or not the title still fits.

    Students learned about the local aviation pioneers who founded companies, built planes and shaped a community. These experts shared these stories:

  • Richard Harris, aviation reporter/historian and Wichita Aviation Centennial Chairman, presented the dynamic WAC slideshow presentation, telling a richly-illustrated story of the full scope of Wichita Aviation History -- with special emphasis on the pioneers and planes that first brought fame to the Air Capital City.
  • Lon Smith former long-time Executive Director of the Kansas Aviation Museum, shared a slideshow and stories of the history of the Museum and Wichita's first full municipal airport and its terminal building (now the museum), at today's McConnell Air Force Base.
        In its heydey, the airport was one of the main stops for trans-continental airlines and flyers, from business executives to movie stars. Smith also offered insights into early Wichita aviation, sharing tidbits about three of the earliest planes found in the Museum.
  • Connie Palacioz a former "Rosie the Riveter" of World War II, who worked in in Boeing-Wichita's factory, building Stearman trainers and B-29 bombers, shared first-hand accounts of life as a war-worker in Wichita, when women did most of the factory work.
        Two generations after her war work, Palacioz (in her 80s) volunteered to work on the recent restoration of the B-29 "Doc," at the Boeing-Wichita factory, a task she continued to its completion (in her 90s)... and discovered she'd riveted its nose together in World War II, the only restoration volunteer to have actually helped to build the plane originally.
  • Al Higdon, former marketing chief of Beech and Lear Jet, shared first-hand knowledge of the mid-century workings of the general aviation industry, and the inner workings of the Wichita companies that shaped it.
        Higdon, who was personally acquainted with the mid-century leaders of all three of Wichita's general aviation manufacturers -- Cessna's gentleman Dwane Wallace, Beech's royal queen, Olive Ann Beech, and the wildly energetic genius Bill Lear -- explained how they shaped the companies that dominated their respective fields from the 1960s to the 1980s.
        He also showed a film of the historic record-setting flight of the Learjet 29 (15-minutes to 51,000 feet) piloted by pioneer lunar astronaut Neil Armstrong.
  • Molly McMillin former Wichita Eagle aviation reporter (now Editor of The Weekly of Business Aviation), and a licensed pilot, covered, with details, the modern era of Wichita aviation -- noting its recent history, and the scale and trends of the local industry. She provided insights into its driving forces, and its potential future... while sharing her own personal experiences in local aviation.
  • And students in the class shared additional stories about Wichitans in the aerospace industry, and others of early aviation with relatives connected to the Air Capital.

    Thanks to Beccy Tanner and Wichita State University's Community Education Program for providing this timely course in the Wichita Aviation Centennial Year!

    NOV. 19


    WICHITA, Nov. 19
    Sat., 7pm-9pm

    The Wichita Aviation Centennial was commemorated and discussed at the monthly General Meeting of the Wichita Chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association, in Wichita, Saturday evening November 19, 2016.

    The event was at the EAA Chapter 88 headquarters building, 3612 N. Webb Road, just north of the entrance to Jabara Airport (KAAO), at the northeast corner of Wichita, the "Air Capital City."

    Amidst aviation enthusiasts, EAA Chapter 88 commemorated the 100th Anniversary of Wichita Aviation Wichita Aviation History show presented by Harris with a brief version of the WAC's lively slideshow/lecture presentation on Wichita Aviation History, at 7pm, recounting how Wichita aviation pioneers and workers changed the shape and size of aviation in America and the world.

    Guest speaker at the Saturday evening event was Wichita Aviation Centennial chairman and aviation historian, Richard Harris, a former aviation industry journalist who has worked throughout Wichita's aviation industry.

    EAA Chapter 88 Following the presentation, the Chapter conducted its normal general meeting affairs, and finished with a video from EAA headquarters on topics of interest to experimental aircraft enthusiasts.

    The event was free to the public. New members were welcome, regardless of aviation credentials (any or none). All aviation enthusiasts were invited to join.

    EAA provides a forum for sharing experiences and efforts to enjoy aviation through homebuilt aircraft, vintage and antique warbird aircraft, sport aircraft, aerobatics and other aviation resources and activity. EAA also sponsors the "Young Eagles" program providing free introductory airplane rides to children. EAA General Meetings and Fly-Ins normally include aviation learning experiences.

    For more, see:

    OCT. 1:


    Boeing B-29 Superfortress NEW YORK CITY: NOV. 13
    World War II vintage Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber "Doc" -- a Wichita-built warplane that is now one of only two flying B-29s in existence -- gained national attention during the CBS television program ''CBS Morning," Sunday, November 13th.

    The eight-minute special segment, aired before a national audience of millions, recounted the plane's history, from its original construction in Wichita during World War II, to its retirement to the desert, to its lengthy restoration in its hometown -- reportedly "the most expensive warbird restoration in history" -- to its triumphant return to the sky this fall.

    For more, including VIDEOS, see:

    OCT. 1-2:


    NEWTON, Oct. 1
    8am - 8pm
    WICHITA, Oct. 2
    Stearman biplane trainer aloft UPDATE: For a report of the event, followed by a link to photos & videos, CLICK HERE

    Original article:

    The Wichita Aviation Centennial will be commemorated and celebrated at the 53rd Annual "Air Capital Fly-In," of the Wichita Chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association, in Newton.

    The event -- with planes and presentations -- is open to the public, at Newton City-County Airport (KEWK), just east of Newton (30 miles north of Wichita, the "Air Capital City"). It also commemorates the 100th Anniversary of Boeing.

    Amidst aviation enthusiasts, and exotic and antique airplanes, EAA Chapter 88 will commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Wichita Aviation with a brief version of the WAC's lively slideshow/lecture presentation on Wichita Aviation History, at 11 am.

    The Fly-In will include displays of numerous aircraft (currently expected: the T-33 military jet trainer, turboprop Beech AT-6 Texan II, P-51, PT-23, UC-78, Ercoupes, Cirrus SR-22, and several Stearman biplanes).

    Guest speaker at the Saturday evening banquet (admisison $25) will be Dr. William Stearman, son of Wichita aviation pioneer Lloyd Stearman.

    Dr. Stearman's father, Lloyd Stearman -- one of the most important figures in U.S. aviation history -- was a pivotal engineer and executive with a string of aircraft manufacturers. Those included Wichita's first plane makers Laird, Swallow and Travel Air, as well as his own Stearman Aircraft -- which became Boeing-Wichita, after Stearman's 1930s move to California, to take the presidency of Lockheed).

    The event includes an F-4 Phantom flight simulator, and activities for the kids (including Young Eagles). The Fly-In is also the final stop on the Kansas Air Tour, an aerial "road rally" for lightplane pilots.

    For more, see...

    OCT. 1:


    Boeing B-29 Superfortress WICHITA, KS: OCT.1
    The World War II vintage Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber "Doc" -- now one of only two flying B-29s in existence -- completed its second flight since completing what is billed as the most expensive restoration ever of any U.S. miltary airplane.

    Restored at the factory in which it was built -- the Boeing-Wichita factory (now owned and operated by Spirit Aerosystems) -- "Doc" recently (July 17th, 2016) had its first flight since restoration, a brief seven-minute trip around McConnell Air Force Base, adjacent to the restoration site.

    Following up on that first test flight, today's hour-long second test flight tested engines and controls, flying at an altitude of 4,000-5,000 feet.

    For more, see:

  • VIDEO: First Flight Success, on

  • B-29 'Doc' logs nearly hour long flight.htm, at KWCH-TV (

    SEPT. 25:


    PITTSBURGH, PA, Sept. 25
    Golfing legend, and Wichita aircraft promoter, Arnold Palmer has died. Famed for his talents on the golf course, he became the biggest golfing celebrity of all time -- particularly important as the leading sports hero to America's business executive community -- and parlayed that celebrity into a role Learjet as an influential aviation booster, particularly promoting business jets.

    A licensed pilot early in his golfing career, Palmer began flying single-engine Cessnas -- and owned or leased a wide array of aircraft for the rest of his life. His pioneering role as the first athlete (and one of the first major American celebrities) to own a business jet helped boost acceptance of business jets to America's business elite. Cessna Citation X

    He particularly showed off Learjets and Cessna Citations, and was first customer for the Citation X. Industry dignitaries noted his humble, warm and kindly manner, and his enthusiastic life-long promotion of aviation.

    For more, see: EVENT: Arnold Palmer Dies

    SEPT. 24:


    WICHITA, this Saturday, Sept. 24,
    at the
    National Center
    for Aviation Training
    , 3612 N. Webb Road,
    North end of Jabara Airport

    The Wichita Aviation Centennial got off to a ceremonial start, in Wichita, the "Air Capital City," Saturday Sept, 24th. The event was from 11am to 3pm, in the NCAT complex. Dignitaries spoke in commemoration of this milestone in Wichita history, and world aviation history.

    The program opened with a ceremony commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Wichita Aviation, starting with a Civil Air Patrol color guard presentation of the flag by the Emerald City Composite Squadron's Honor Guard.
    Civil Air Patrol Honor Guard and officials with Centennial dignitaries
    Civil Air Patrol Honor Guard and officials with Centennial dignitaries: front row, left-to-right: C/CMSgt. Heather Detrick, C/SSgt. Holly Detrick, Sen. Oletha Faust Goudeau, WSU historian Prof. Jay Price; Back row, left-to-right: C/Amn Ethan Grimm, Centennial Chairman Richard Harris, 1st Lt. Brad Hawthorne and Maj. David St. John.

    Kansas State Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau presented the Mayor's Proclamation of the Wichita Aviation Centennial, to the WAC Committee, and it was read to the audience by Wichita State University history professor Jay Price.
    WAC speakers Dave Franson (Wichita Aero Club president), Richard Harris (Centennial chairman), and Molly McMillin (Editor, <i>The Weekly of Business Aviation</i>)
    WAC speakers Dave Franson (Wichita Aero Club president), Richard Harris (Centennial chairman), and Molly McMillin (Editor, The Weekly of Business Aviation).

    The program moved into the grand NCAT theater, where dignitaries -- including Professor Price, Wichita Aero Club President Dave Franson, and leading aviation industry journalist Molly McMillin spoke briefly about the past, present, and future of Wichita aviation.

    The program wound up with a slideshow/lecture presentation on the history of Wichita aviation, by WAC Chairman Richard Harris.

    WAC volunteers
    WAC volunteers Alexis Goff, Aaron Goff, Kira Corteville, and Evan Goff.
    This was only the "Kickoff" event of the Wichita Aviation Centennial -- to firmly commemorate the Centennial month -- and begin a year of commemmorations which will be developed for wider public involvement in the celebration, commemoration, and education about the Air Capital City's extraordinary role in world aviation. Other Centennial events will be announced over the coming Centennial year (keep your eye on this EVENTS/NEWS page).

    THANKS to all involved, and to the National Center for Aviation Training, Senator Faust-Goudeau and Sedgwick County Commision Chairman for their help in arranging this exceptional venue!
      MORE... .

    SEPT. 21:


    WICHITA, Sept. 21
    Mayoral Proclamation The Wichita Aviation Centennial received the official blessing of the City of Wichita, Wednesday, with the issuance of a Mayoral Proclamation, declaring September 1916 to September 1917 the "Wichita Aviation Centennial."

    The proclamation notes the pioneering influence of Clyde Cessna, who began operating in Wichita, intermittently, 100 years ago this month, under community invitation and with the support of local leaders and citizens. It further credits other Wichita aviation pioneers, and the actions of the whole community over the last 100 years, in creating the "Air Capital of the World."

    The Mayor's proclamation calls on everyone to back the Centennial, and its committee, and work with them to celebrate this milestone, spread the word of Wichita's aviation past and present, and inspire our future.

    To read the Mayor's proclamation, CLICK HERE,

    SEPT. 15:


    WICHITA, Sept. 15
    Though, an initial web page was set up on September 1 -- outlining the historic moment of the 100th Anniversary of Wichita Aviation -- it was only a lengthy single page, buried in another website. It was chiefly for reference by historians, aviation leaders and media, during the frantic, last-minute organization of the Wichita Aviation Centennial.

    Now, a more substantial, multi-page Wichita Aviation Centennial (WAC) website is up and running -- patterned on (and currently hosted in a section of) the 2011-2012 Kansas Aviation Centennial (KAC) website.

    You can now reach the WAC website (which you're currently on) through its own web domain:,
    which then auto-links you to the
    2016 Wichita Aviation Centennial section
    in the
    old Kansas Aviation Centennial website:

    Confused? So are we. Just click use any of these links (or stay on the website just as you are) and you're there. In coming weeks, we hope to make this simpler, working entirely off of the WAC's own domain:,
    with additional content on Wichita aviation history, and related information and upcoming events.

    AUG.30 - SEPT.16:

    100th ANNIVERSARY of

    WICHITA, Sat., August 30th - Sept.16

    The Wichita Aviation Centennial begins with the 100th Anniversary of Wichita Aviation.

    Over the course of the last week of August and the first two weeks of September, a panel of historians -- aviation historians, local historians, and local aviation historians -- reviewed the historical record, at the instigation of one of their number, to determine the actual date of the 100th Anniversary of Wichita Aviation.

    The panelists included:

    • Richard Harris, former Chairman of the Kansas Aviation Centennial, and Kansas History Speaker for the Kansas 150 Sesquicentennial;
    • Walt House, former Chief Historian & Curator, and current Board Member of the Kansas Aviation Museum;
    • Prof. Jay Price, Public & Local History Director, History Dept., Wichita State University and Member, National Council on Public History
    • Carl Chance, Editor,, (the principal online reference on Wichita Aviation History), and former Board Member of the Kansas Aviation Museum;
    • C. Hayden Hamilton, aviation historian and Managing Editor of History Publications, American Aviation Historical Society.
    • Col. Walter J. Boyne, USAF (ret'd), aviation historian, former Director of the National Air & Space Museum, and former Chairman of the Board of the National Aeronautic Association.

    Criteria used included:

    • What constituted "Wichita Aviation" -- in the classical sense of the word, as substantial community effort?
    • When did this type of effort begin to happen in Wichita?
    • What is the credibility of the evidence?

    Initial discussions supported the idea that the relocation to Wichita of Clyde Cessna and his aviation enterprise, in the fall of 1916, was the start of "aviation" in Wichita.

    Six alternative Wichita aviation milestones put that proposed "Centennial" date into question. (See the FULL ARTICLE for explanations for their non-selection).

    However, in the end, the panel generally agreed that September, 1916 was the start of Wichita aviation, in earnest.

    The September, 1916, beginnings of Cessna's permanent commercial operation in Wichita -- prior to 1918 shutdown forced by U.S. entry into World War II -- was the first substantial "aviation" enterprise based in Wichita, and the first such enterprise solicited and supported by the community, and involved with the community.


    • September, 1916 is
      the start of Wichita aviation,
    • September 2016 is the
      100th Anniversary of Wichita Aviation
      --and the appropriate starting point of the Wichita Aviation Centennial.


    FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact the:
    Wichita Aviation Centennial Committee
    Richard Harris, Chairman,
    (316) 371-9079


  • Join us in celebrating
    a Century of Wichita Aviation!

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