Kansas Aviation Museum

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Address(1)3350 George Washington Blvd

    Within five years of the Wright brothers' 1903 flight at Kitty Hawk, Kansans sought to enter the air age with craft of their own design. Entrepreneurial and experimental spirits rode high as daring pioneers sought their fortunes in the wide-open prairie skies.

    The first successful Kansas plane, the 1910 Longren Flyer, was built in Topeka. It was quickly followed by a wide variety of craft developed by over 60 manufacturers throughout the state. The nation's first commercial airplane, the Laird Swallow, was created in 1920 by the Wichita team of Laird, Moellendick and Burke.

    They were joined by such pioneers as Stearman, Rawdon, Knoll, Prescott, Mooney, Beech, Cessna, Lear and many others. Whether they built one plane or thousands, they all added their genius to a vitalnew industry burgeoning in the center of this vast nation.

    Take Off...
    Even with that early start, practical and widespread aviation is a relatively recent phenomenon. Many of aviations's artifacts are scarcely a half century old, yet they are irreplaceable monuments to the industry's pioneering days.

    The former Wichita Air Terminal building, now the home of the Kansas Aviation Museum, is one such monument. It was the focus of Wichita's commitment to a fledgling industry that would completely change our society's perception of distance and travel. That commitment enabled Wichita's aviation companies to produce most of the free world's single engine aircraft, thus earning the city the title "Air Capital of the World."

    Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building was begun in 1929 and dedicated in 1935. Hailed at the time as one of the outstanding buildings in the U.S., the Art Deco structure with its abundance of aviation related motifs garnered praise from around the world.

    Throughout its rich and varied history, it hosted scores of celebrated guests and witnessed the growth of aviation into a dominant force in the world. Thus the use of this fine old building to house an aviation museum is a fitting tribute to the pioneers of yesteryear, the doers of today and the dreamers of tomorrow.

    The Kansas Aviaton Museum, in recognition of Kansas' place in aviation history, is the only museum in the country to focus on general aviation. Opened in 1991, it displays aircraft and artifacts from the earliest days to the present and into the future, houses an extensive research library and is becoming a center for aviation education.

    You can become a part of this historic and ambitious project. Join the Kansas Aviation Museum. Donate your time and expertise, your Kansas-related aviation artifacts, your cash and in-kind gifts. All donations to KAM are tax-deductible, thus benefitng both you and the museum.

    Your membership will help KAM preserve the rich aviation heritage of Wichita and Kansas, thus of the world. Together we will work toward the realization of our dream: a completely-restored building housing a world-class treasury of Kansas' aviation history. It is the Kansas Aviation Museum. Its dedication to the past is exceeded only by its faith in the furture.

    Who we are, What we do
    The Kansas Aviation Museum conducts a number of activities throughout the year, all geared to bringing people to the museum, honoring aviation greats and promoting the appreciation and love of all things aeronautical.

    These activities include the annual Aerodrome Days, River Festival flyovers and static displays, the annual Wright Brothers banquet, member events and Volunteer Appreciation Dinner.

    The museum is the official site of the Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame and the Governor's Aviation Honor Awards. KAM's research library is founded on the Robert Pickett and Edward Tihen collections, vast accumulations of photographs, publications and other aviation materials.

    These, other collections and numerous acquisitions support the museum's stated mission of becoming the foremost repository of information about and artifacts depicting Kansas' pre-eminent role in general aviation.

    Courtesy of Kansas Aviation Museum

General Information

    Hours of operation
    Tuesday through Friday: 9:00am to 4:00pm
    Saturday: 1:00pm to 5:00pm
    Adults: $2.00
    Ages 6 to 12: $1.00
    Under 6: Free
    Group tours and rates available by appointment only.
    Admission and hours subject to change
    Free Parking

Reviews / Comments by our visitors
 Lon Smith
 Wichita, Kansas

Old Boy - it is easy to sit on the sidelines and make negative comments. It is a much different thing to jump in with both feet and attempt to make something happen. If you feel it is so critical to build a hangar, why not attempt to help raise the money? And by the way, you talk about the historic terminal as if it had no part in Kansas Aviation heritage. Go back and read articles during the time it was constructed. The community at that time had a far different view. That is, if they could build what was at that time one of the premier aviation terminals in the country, they would be viewed and respected as a center for aviation. So we should abandon this incredible part of Kansas aviation heritage? You say that we who run the museum have no knowledge of Kansas aviation heritage? It is you who lack knowledge sir. It is you who apparently care nothing for the true aviation heritage of Wichita for if you did care, you wouldn't suggest that we abandon the historic terminal. Did you know that none other than Charles Lindberg helped select the site of the historic terminal? Did you know that every great aviation luminary of the day passed through this building? Cessna, Beech, Howard Hughes, Amelia Earhart, Stearman, and the list goes on and on. Then there are the famous movie stars and politicians who all passed through the terminal. And then stop to think about the fact that it is one of only twelve terminals that still exist in the entire United States that were built in the first round of terminal construction in the late twenties and early thirties and the only built in the Indian Art Deco style. You disappoint me with your insensitivity to the REAL history of Kansas aviation. Do we need a hangar? Yes. The second we have the money, it will be built. But with attitudes like yours in Wichita (and I mean the entire community: foundations, corporations [aviation and otherwise] individuals and government entities) it may be years before we have the money to build such a hangar. So thanks for being so negative instead of attempting to find out how you can help.
10/17/2011 @ 02:40 [ref: 25333]
 Aviation industry worker
 Wichita, Kansas

Old boy is right. I've tried volunteering, donating, partnering with KAM -- despite solid aviation background, and experience with other museums -- all for nothing, with no genuine interest or serious response from any of the appropriate people. Others in the aviation community tell me similar stories. The museum directors and staff are a sick joke -- unable to answer any question about anything on the premises, or anything at all about Kansas aviation (disgustingly ironic for a "Kansas Aviation Museum"). They're about as enthusiastic towards visitors as if we came there solely to track mud on their floor. The place is a dive, last time I saw it (a year or two ago), even though they FINALLY put some signs by some exhibits. After visiting at least once or twice a year for decades (often taking guests - usually to my embarrassment, once they saw the place and experienced the "help"), I can no longer stand the thought of setting foot in that huge community failure (and ALL community and aviation "leaders" here have to share some of the blame; it's OUR air museum). If you think Wichita is the Air Capital of the World, go here, and you'll think its the Air CRAP-it-all of the World.
10/08/2011 @ 18:39 [ref: 25080]
 Old Boy
 , Kansas

Though still a disappointment, after 20 years, the museum is somewhat less of an aviation junkyard, and the exhibits have improved to the point that they seem to have a little bit of value. But this is not really an air museum, in the conventional sense. There ARE two REAL air museums in Kansas (Combat Air Museum in Topeka, and the stupendous Mid-America Air Museum in Liberal in southwest Kansas) -- along with the world class Cosmosphere spaceflight museum just up the road in Hutchinson. And the city's "Exploration Place" science museum has an excellent, interactive, aviation-technology exhibit -- along with an early Cessna hanging from the ceiling. The K.A.M., though, squanders hundreds of thousands of dollars hiring people to run the museum who have absolutely no aviation background -- let alone any solid expertise in Kansas aviation history -- and it shows. Valuable artifacts are treated like toys, junk, or personal amuseuments. There\'s just no grasp of the role of an aviation museum in a an aviation community. No understanding of how to present the exhibits that has any real meaning for the public. The management organization pours much of the museum's money and volunteer labor into the "restoring" the wretched old airport building that is rather hopelessly, foolishly used as a museum building -- rather than in building a world-class museum. They've avoided building realistic museum buildings / hangars, because they insist on buildings that appear "historic," at vastly greater cost than they can afford. The core problem with the K.A.M., apparently, is not community apathy. Many people talk about the frustrations they've had with K.A.M. -- whether over volunteering or donations. Many talk about the way KAM leaders hoard assets and power, while failing to focus on the community's needs and interests. Few "civic" organizations in this community have a worse reputation than K.A.M. Throughout the state -- and nation -- much smaller museums, with far fewer resources, have done so much more in so much less time. The KAM leadership -- all of it -- needs to go, and the old terminal building should be abandoned, and a real air museum built for the supposed "Air Capital of the World." It's a generation overdue.
09/26/2011 @ 02:16 [ref: 24821]
 Gene P.Savoy
 DFW, Texas

I found my name online attached to this thread however could not seem to find what I had written before. That must have been a long time ago. I want to take this time to say, I volunteered for KAM for over 10 years. I enjoyed my time there. I would often spend entire Saturdays there. Despite what anyone may have to say there are alot of people who care enough to GIVE their valuable time and skills to make this place survive and preserve our priceless aviation HERITAGE for future generations to learn from. My hat is off to all who have fought so hard to save the original Municipal Airodrome and related artifacts. I ended my volunteer time because my life was changing. I look back on my volunteer days with a deep, warm sense of fun and adventure. I am thankful to all those I came in contact with during that time. Especially David W. Brubaker, Robert Wilson and Merle Walter. Subsequent visits have shown me that the Museum IS making progress. That is due solely to those who have hung in there and fought through the adversity and trials that seem to be inherant with any venture in life. God Bless all of you and God Speed too! Sincerely, Gene P. Savoy 5/7/2011
05/07/2011 @ 11:17 [ref: 16091]
 The Phantom
 , Kansas

To Lon, I did donate time. Alot of time, along with two other people. We got run off by Mary S. for CLEANING bird crap off the B-52. When you took over, I called you and you gave me the feeling you could care less. What you guys have is a "Good ol' boy" club where some old men get together to "tinker". Did you know there is (was?) a guy working the gift shop who stole from the place? I talked to Mary S. about it, ..she didn't care. Do you? Tim B. talks a good game but he is basicly uesless as a leader of a B.O.D. How much do you get paid. I bet that is where the money goes, to pay you, to sit there and put down people for "bad mouthing" KAM? Why don't you donate some of your pay to place an ADD in the paper for people to help and maybe treat the nicely so the want to come back and help! Jerry is right. The place is a junk yard. KAM hasen't do much in the 4 years I've lived here. Oh, I'm sorry, someone did get that B-47 up off the ground, AFTER 3 years. Did KAM run the B-29 off? I know the AFB gave it a hanger. KAM "Promised" to build a hanger for it. What happend to that money? Maybe it went to pay the rest of the office staff. I NEVER get a news letter or email up dates, as I was told I would, with my membership. I do get a letter every year asking for money!!!! KAM will never be world class. KAM can't get it together. Lon, why don't you go to some real world class museums to see what one looks like!!! Take a look at the FLORIDA AIR MUSEUM. KANSAS is the key word in the museums name, but it seems more like the Stearman / Boeing / Cessna museum. Why not rename it Wichita Air Museum? One of your tour guide's told me that KAM ran off the Amelia Earhart display people Lon, do know what the "the Lady be Good" was? Did you know it left from Kansas? Did you know the B-25's used in the Doolittle raid were built in Kansas? Okay, no more free history leasons for you. Hey Jerry, why don't we start an air museum? I'm not kidding. There is a great spot out at ICT!
02/01/2011 @ 04:13 [ref: 12516]
 Richard Parker
 Costa Mesa, California

I really enjoyed this museum. While there aren't a great number of airplanes there is more to aviation history than just airplanes. The art deco terminal, built in 1929 - 1935, is as much a part of aviation history as airplanes are. The building is totally accessible to visitors and the exibits are well presented. If you're a student of aviation history there's a lot of Wichita's early aviation history here.
10/15/2010 @ 03:07 [ref: 11211]
 Lon Smith
 Wichita, Kansas

By the way Jerry Kohner, as the Director of the museum, I had nothing to do with any comments being removed. The folks who run this website must have removed them for some other reason. Maybe they were running out of space. I don't know, but I do know that I did not remove them.
07/19/2010 @ 12:06 [ref: 9896]
 Lon Smith
 Wichita, Kansas

To Jerry Kohner and Fred Koehn. It is easy to visit a couple of times and then criticize. How about coming out to the museum and donating some time or maybe some money. Money is really the only thing standing between us and the world-class facility Wichita deserves. We have done a great deal in the past couple of years with very little money and that mostly because of our volunteers (thanks guys). You should consider coming out and volunteering. Until you do, I will not pay much attention to your criticisms because we are all working as hard and as fast as we are able given the financial support that we get from all sources. If you care about aviation, you'll do more than just complain. Anyone can do that and it doesn't help the museum one bit. And by the way, I am that new director guy (although I have been here a couple of years now).
07/19/2010 @ 09:49 [ref: 9895]
 Craig Parsons
 Wichita, Kansas

The gentalmen from Wichita who wrote the comments on 05/01/2010 and 05/01/2009 should see the Kansas Aviation Museum (KAM)as it is now with an open mind. Since we must support ourselves and our museum. Money to improve KAM is hard to come by. Please come back and volunteer to help make KAM the "Aviation Capital" of the world museum that you gentalmen expect and want. The volunteers meet every Wednesday at 9 AM.
07/13/2010 @ 18:49 [ref: 9665]
 Fred Koehn
 Wichita, Kansas

I asked the "new" museum director why the museum is in such bad shape! He blamed the BIG aircraft plants in town for not giving any help. The museum is a sad place, and not worthy of "Air Capital"
01/27/2010 @ 13:34 [ref: 9245]


External pages about this museum

Last updated: 02/14/00.

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