Lon Smith, M.A. W.P.A.
Kansas Aviation Museum
Each November, the Kansas Aviation Museum hosts the Kansas Aviation Museum Gala, at which one individual is inducted into the Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame and the Kansas Governor’s Aviation Honor Award is bestowed upon two individuals. This year, the Kansas Aviation Museum – in conjunction with the State of Kansas Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation and the Kansas State Historical Society – selected three outstanding individuals who have all made great contributions to aviation in Kansas and beyond. The selection process is via a committee comprised of individuals affiliated with each of the three institutions. Information about that process and the details involved with making nominations can be found at the Kansas Aviation Museum website: www.kansasaviationmuseum.org.
For this year, the recipients are:
DONALD C. FLOWER – (1904 – 1980) Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame – 2010
Growing up in the sunny state of Florida, Don Flower knew he wanted a career in aviation while attending college in Gainesville. He moved to Ohio so he could obtain employment with the Waco Air Transport Company, since they were the largest builder of commercial airplanes in 1927.
He learned to fly in a Waco glider, and later joined the Cessna Aircraft Company in 1940 as general sales manager, responsible for both domestic and foreign sales.
In 1953, Flower formed a partnership with Jack Galbraith specializing in aviation insurance. In 1958, he purchased Jack’s interest in the agency and the name was changed to Don Flower Associates, becoming the largest general aviation insurance brokerage in the U.S. He developed aviation insurance programs for many aviation organizations, and was one of the first insurers to be accepted by Lloyds of London.
Don Flower was an active pilot flying to all major cities in North and South America. Upon his death, his ashes were spread over Wichita Mid-Continent Airport in Wichita, Kansas from a Cessna 182.
RONALD G. PUCKETT – (1917 – present) Kansas Governor’s Aviation Honor Award – 2010
After serving in the U.S. Navy as an enlisted man for four years, he realized his dream of becoming a pilot by enrolling at the Long Bear, California, junior college, soloing in a Piper Cub. Qualifying for the Navy flight school, he earned his Navy wings and flew fighters off carriers in World War II.
He flew a F2G Super Vought Corsair to a second place win in the 1949 Thompson Air Races.
As a test pilot at Chance Vought, he flew the F-7 Cutlass jet fighter, touring Navy bases and demonstrating the capabilities of the aircraft. He was promoted to Navy Commander in 1963.
In 1972, Ron was the Federal Aviation Administration’s Chief of Flight Test, assigned to aircraft certification programs for all new Cessna, Beechcraft, and Lear aircraft until his retirement in 1980.
Ron Puckett is recognized by his peers as a highly skilled flight test pilot in the Air Capital of the World, Wichita, Kansas.
KENNETH RAZAK – (1918 – 2010) Kansas Governor’s Aviation Honor Award – 2010
A farm boy from Collyer, Kansas, Kenneth attended Kansas State University and received a Master of Science degree. He was appointed as the Civilian Pilot Training (CPT) coordinator developing a curriculum for pilots and mechanics which were crucial to the World War II effort.
In the 1930’s, Wichita was becoming a booming aviation community and the need to train aeronautical engineers was growing. Mr. Razak was appointed as an associate professor at Wichita University and set up an aeronautical engineering school, including curriculum, labs, and design classes. He was also the head of the School of Business and supervised the installation of the first computer.
In 1946, Mr. Razak designed a wind tunnel using war surplus aircraft engines. Research programs were initiated from aircraft and farm equipment companies to study air-flow. The Cessna Ag-Wagon was the result of his research. He was often called upon to be an expert witness in aircraft accident investigations.
In 2005, the National Institute for Aviation Research invested upgrades to the Razak wind tunnel, and is now considered as the premier test facility of its size in the country.