Lon Smith, Executive Director
My name is Lon Smith and I am the executive director here at the Kansas Aviation Museum. When Carl invited me to write a periodic column, I was honored and eager to get started. As often happens, duties related to the museum operations sidetracked my intentions and so this first column is a bit tardy in arriving.
There are many exciting things going on here at the museum and we encourage all to stop in and see the changes that are taking place.& To get you up to speed, let me tell you a little about who we are and what we do here at the museum.
The Kansas Aviation Museum is housed in the historic Wichita Air Terminal at 3350 S. George Washington Blvd. in Wichita, Kansas.& We are located adjacent to McConnell on the west side of the base.& Our mission is to preserve and present Kansas aviation heritage.& The building in which we are housed was constructed beginning in 1929 and completed in 1934, going into service as Wichita’s commercial air terminal until approximately 1954.& At that time the United States government purchased the building and utilized it as the main administration building for the air base until it was then turned over to the Kansas Air National Guard.& The Guard operated in the facility until the early eighties when it went dormant for around ten years.
In 1990, the building was deeded back to the City of Wichita by the National Park Service and leased by the Kansas Aviation Museum.& Over the past twenty years, the museum organization has assumed responsibility for the preservation plan established via state historic preservation.& About seven years ago the exterior restoration was completed and then two years ago a new roof was installed on the building.& That paved the way for a beehive of interior restoration that has taken place over the past two years that includes a renovation of the lobby area, the open archive area, several areas around the historic atrium, the Boeing Wing on the third floor and now the historic Wichita Air Terminal tower which was just dedicated on Thursday, August 5th.
In subsequent articles, I will describe each exhibit that can be found at the museum in greater detail and talk more about the history of happenings within the terminal (e.g., Fred Astaire once performed a tap routine in the atrium while waiting for a plane).& For now we are excited about the opportunity to share information about the Kansas Aviation Museum and the historic terminal and look forward to being a part of this important mode of communication.& Till next time, Ever Upward.