Saturday, March 17, 2012

Kansas Aviation Museum

On March 8, the Kansas Aviation Museum dedicated a new 6,500 square foot archive center.  Because I read that day's paper at dinner, rather than at breakfast, I missed the open house.  Still, what I've gleaned from the website and the newspaper article is rather cool.

The archive has an extensive collection of aviation materials, including photographs, books, magazines and periodicals, films, drawings, blueprints and FAA registration files.  The focus of the museum is on airplanes and airplane companies, but would likely offer fascinating contextual information for anyone who worked in the aircraft industry in Wichita.

For any of you out-of-towners who don't know, Wichita has been a hub of aircraft design and construction since the beginning of aircraft -- the first commercial aircraft company was founded in 1900 (before the Kitty Hawk flight) and the first successful Kansas plane flew in 1910.  By 1920, there were 21 aircraft companies in Kansas. Cessna, Beech and LearJet were all founded here, and Boeing built B-29s for WWII here.  Many aviation companies still design and build planes here, although competition is fierce for the good jobs that aviation provides.  The KAM has a great timeline here.

The museum is located in the old Wichita Airport building at 3350 S. George Washington Blvd.  Phone is 316-683-9242.  The archive is open to the public -- they recommend that you call and make an appointment so that they can be ready to help you.  You can also email the archivist at  The website doesn't say whether they will do research for you, so you would have to call or email to ask.

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