Reflections - Spring 2016
The advent of first flight in 1903 awakened a yearning among people around the world.
Kansans were no different. They were inspired by the challenge of heavier-than-air craft. After the Wright brothers’ success, fliers kept pushing the boundaries. Alberto Santos-Dumont achieved the first power flight in France in 1906. French flier Louis Blériot was first to cross the English Channel in 1909. American John Moisant conducted the first passenger flight across the English Channel in 1909. These and many others continued to find ways to mark new successes in the skies.
Kansas, with its open prairies, offered the perfect place to make test flights. Inventors from the state like Clyde Cessna soon took on the challenge of building their own airplanes. They discovered that the task was dangerous and costly. Since the public was willing to pay to witness aviation exhibitions, these demonstrations helped fund their expenses. In an effort to meet the public’s insatiable thirst for daring stunts, aviators became barnstormers, wing walkers, and parachute jumpers, risking their lives to finance their inventions.
The successes of these aviators inspired others and helped to bring some of the best minds in flight to Wichita where oil supplies were plentiful. The Air Capital of the World, as it became known, eventually had 16 airplane manufacturers with names like Boeing, Cessna, Beechcraft, and Learjet; six engine factories; 11 airports; and dozens of flying schools. Here manufacturers set the standard for the nation’s production efficiency. Today more than 32,000 people are employed in aerospace in Kansas. Explore this rich history.
Spring 2016 (PDF)
Giving Wings to the Prairie
Skyward to Adventure
Golden Age of Flight