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Copyright 2001-2007 by R.Harris


NOTE:   These web links below provide special information on
Wichita, Kansas
-- the aviation manufacturing "Air Capital" --
and on
Kansas aviation & aircraft manufacturers, generally.
(Most major U.S. plane-makers have Kansas ties.)

past & present, including:


(Wings Over Kansas website)
"The Air Capital City"
~ the world's leading
aircraft-manufacturing center
Famous Kansas
Kansas airlines:
(Trans World Airlines)
Air Midwest
Ryan International
of Kansas

past & present, including:

major commercial & military

major general aviation

North American

Cessna, Learjet, Mooney,
Stearman, Luscombe, Helio, Bede,
and dozens of others
(see more-complete list below):

        The BIG list of Kansas aircraft manufacturers, past & present:

Alon Aircoupe
American   Eagle
Great Lakes
HGL Aero
North American
Seibel Helicopter
Travel Air
Other Aircraft Manufacturers with Kansas Ties:

American Aviation and its sucessors:
Gulfstream American,
American General
, and
Tiger Aircraft
(makers of the Yankee, Traveler, Cheetah, Tiger and Cougar light planes)
In the late 1960's / early-1970s, airplane designer Jim Bede, an aeronautical engineering graduate of Wichita State University, created the most influential, all-new, single-engine lightplane of the 1970s: the "BD-1", which became the American Aviation "AA-1 Yankee". The radically simple, light, sleek and speedy two-seater -- though devilishly risky to fly -- promised revolutionary performance in the cheapest all-metal airplane on the market (144 mph, and nearly acrobatic capabilites, in a $7,500 airplane). A horde of new enthusiasts entered general aviation, on the allure of Bede's popular "personal fighter plane."
    Bede manufactured his first design, the BD‑1, through Cleveland-based American Aviation in the early-1970s. When fledgling American fell on hard times, it was brought back from the brink of failure by a fighter-pilot-turned-lawyer, Russ Meyer. Meyer oversaw the refinement of the AA-1 line into a more marketable aircraft, and its growth into a superior four-seat design, the AA-5 (today, the final variant of that design, the AG-5B Tiger, is one of the most in-demand light planes). Meyer grew the company into the 4th-largest-volume U.S. maker of small light planes, then ushered the company into the hands of aerospace giant Grumman.
    Russ Meyer's outstanding airplane-manufacturing management skills caught the eye of Cessna Aircraft, who brought him aboard, quickly moving him to the leadership of the company, to replace retiring Dwane Wallace.   Meyer eventually became head of all the aviation enterprises of Cessna's parent company, Textron, a role he still performs intermittently to this day (see Bell Helicopter, below).
    Meanwhile, Jim Bede's fame from the American Yankee helped boost Bede's further adventures with other radical, cheap/speedy designs, including his BD-4 and BD-5 kitplanes. The latter design, the BD-5, was partially pre-assembled at the Bede Aircraft factory in Newton, Kansas, in kits for homebuilders -- including the world's smallest jet, the BD-5J. Bede's exciting, controversial designs infused new excitement into the field of "home-building" (amateur builders making their own planes) , and ignited an explosion in the tiny "kitplane" movement -- now the most common form of homebuilding. (To this day, Bede continues, elsewhere to develop stimulating new designs, including the BD-10 / Viper Jet.) (For a detailed history of the American Aviation Co. and its successors, click here .)

Bell Helicopter
Bell Helicopter -- one of the world's most important helicopter producers -- has benefitted extensively for decades from a variety of connections to Wichita. When Cessna decided to abandon its development of the Cessna/Seibel Skyhook helicopter, designer Charles Seibel joined Bell to become one of its leading design engineers -- involved in the development of Bell's signature designs -- the Model 47, JetRanger and Huey.
    During the 1960s and 1970s, when Bell was unable to meet soaring military and civilian demand for its JetRanger helicopter, the company outsourced manufacture of JetRanger fuselages (bodies) to Wichita's Beech Aircraft Co..
    During the late 1980s, Wichita's Cessna Aircraft Co. was acquired by Bell's parent company, Textron. Bell fumbled and faltered under the weight of its ill-fated efforts to create a vertical takeoff and landing airplane (the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor), but has been kept in business by feeding off of the profits from Textron's most profitable division -- Cessna Aircraft. When a scandal broke out over the Pentagon-Bell test program for the Osprey, and other troubles began torpedoing Textron's aviation enterprises (which also included major engine-maker Lycoming), Textron's board brought in former Cessna CEO Russ Meyer to clean up the mess, and oversee all of Textron's aviation enterprises -- Bell, Lycoming, AND Cessna.

Curtiss-Wright Corp.
Derived from the late-1920s/early-1930s merger of Glenn Curtiss' Curtiss Aeroplane Co. and the Wright Brothers Wright Aeronautical Corp., Curtiss-Wright then began to acquire as many airplane companies as it could, capitalizing on fire-sale prices as the stock market began unraveling towards the collapse of the Great Depression.
  Wichita's Travel Air Mfg. Co. was one of Curtiss-Wright's main acquistions, whereupon the new parent moved Travel Air to St. Louis, Missouri.
  Travel Air president Walter Beech was made Curtiss-Wright's V.P. of Marketing, but Beech chafed at the New York desk job. He quit, and managed to wrangle the old Travel Air factory in Wichita out of Curtiss-Wright's hands -- to reopen it under his own name, starting Beech Aircraft Corp. in 1932.

General Dynamics
(now a division of Lockheed-Martin)
Derived from Vultee Aircraft and its acquisition, Consolidated Aircraft, which became Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft, later shortened to Convair, then renamed General Dynamics -- one of America's 5 biggest defense contractors, building everything from the F-16 Falcon fighter to submarines -- before being absorbed in the 1990s by Lockheed-Martin.
  Ironically, Vultee Aircraft was founded by former Lockheed engineeer Gerard F. ("Jerry") Vultee, who helped develop the pioneering Lockheed Vega around 1925-1930, and later designed the Lockheed Sirius and Orion. Before working at Lockheed, Vultee had been a craftsman at Wichita's E.M. Laird Mfg. Co., helping craft America's first 'commercial' airplane, the Laird Swallow.
  During the 1980s, Wichita's Cessna Aircraft Co. was acquired by General Dynamics, and held for a several years as a major subsidiary, before being sold to Textron.

Laird Aircraft Manufacturing Co. , Chicago
In 1923, after Matty Laird was driven off from his Swallow factory in Wichita (by co-owner Jake Moellendick), young Laird took his company name (E.M. Laird Mfg. Co.) back to his hometown (Chicago), and began a successful enterprise specializing in sleek, fast cargo and airmail biplanes, known as the "Laird Commercial" and "Speedwing" -- the speed-leaders in the industry.
  After Laird's former Wichita employee, Walter Beech, produced the revolutionary Travel Air 'Mystery Ship' monoplane -- and it famously won at the 1929 National Air Races -- Laird countered by winning the following year with his sleek "Laird Solution" biplane (his 'Solution' to the Travel Air 'Mystery') and again the next year with his "Laird Super Solution" biplane, flown by Jimmy Doolittle.

derived from two companies started (or re-started) by Kansas aviators:
  Lloyd Stearman (first president of Lockheed, when revived from bankruptcy around 1931; helped develop its first financially successful airplanes -- the Orion and Electra; later worked on the Constellation airliner), and
  Glenn Martin (youngest of the early aircraft manufacturers, founded Glenn L. Martin Aircraft -- one of America's first major aircraft manufacturing companies; Martin bombers and giant Martin seaplanes were world-famous from World War I through the Golden Age and World War II. Martin's flying school trained William E. Boeing -- whose first airplane was a Martin seaplane. Also, Martin employed a promising young designer: Donald Douglas, who would found Douglas Aircraft, and design the most important airplane of all time, the Douglas DC-3. Martin's company later became one of the key leaders in U.S. missiles and spacecraft.)
  Gerard F. "Jerry" Vultee, was also a key colleague of Lloyd Stearman during the revival of Lockheed, before starting his own company (which evolved into General Dynamics, as noted previously). Vultee, an alumnus of Wichita's Laird/Swallow enterprise, first became famous as a co-designer (with John Northrop and Tony Stadlman) of the revolutionary pace-setting, globe-circling Lockheed Vega, and then chief designer in the development of the speedy, far-ranging Lockheed Sirius (which Lindbergh used to scout routes for airlines).
  When Lockheed changed hands, and Stearman became president, Vultee took the lead in designing the industry-shaping single-engine Orion airliner -- the first plane developed in the revival of Lockheed under Stearman's presidency. Vultee left to form his own company, and that company (Vultee Aircraft) eventually evolved into major aircraft-and-submarine manufacturer General Dynamics. Ironically -- in recent times -- that company has become a division of Lockheed-Martin, completing the circle.

derived from Northrop Aircraft and Grumman Aircraft.
Briefly around 1929-1931, Northrop was acquired by the giant United Aircraft conglomerate, and merged with Wichita-based Stearman Aircraft, to become Stearman-Northrop, headquarted in Wichita. Much of the work on Northrop's pioneering all-metal, hollow-shell airliners -- the Alpha and Beta -- was done in Wichita. These set the standard for modern aircraft construction.
    After a government anti-monopoly lawsuit separated Northrop from Stearman and the United Aircraft conglomerate, Northrop returned to being an independent company until the 1990s merger with Grumman (known today as Northrop-Grumman). Northrop was a pioneer in advanced military aircraft -- including the Flying Wing, T-38 trainer, F-5 Freedom Fighter, F-20 Tigershark, and today's leading Naval and Marine fighter/bomber, the F/A-18 Hornet.

Ryan Aircraft
T. Claude Ryan, born and raised in Parsons, Kansas, became an important aircraft design-and-manufacturing leader, from his base in California. His "Ryan NYP" (for "NewYork-to-Paris") "Spirit of St. Louis" monoplane -- famously flown by Charles Lindbergh in the first trans-Atlantic solo -- triggered one of the most decisive revolutions in American airplane design: the switch to monoplanes (in place of biplanes).
    Ryan Aircraft was also one of America's key pioneers of "modern" airplanes -- sleek aluminum-shell aircraft with unbraced ("cantilever") wings.
    During World War II, their flight-school affiliate -- the Ryan School of Aeronautics Company -- trained 14,000 Army Air Corps pilots. Thousands more learned in Ryan PT-22 military trainer planes.
    Though rarely successful, Ryan Aircraft remained a famously unusual and daring innovator in aviation well into the jet age -- with aircraft like the Navy's first jet fighter, jet/propeller hybrid planes, and vertical-takeoff jets.

Rutan Aircraft and Scaled Composites, Inc.
Burt Rutan, famed designer of the first private spacecraft to successfully reach outer space and win the "X Prize", has pivotal career ties to Kansas. Rutan's pioneering role in aerospace innovation began with his work with Jim Beded on the Bede BD-5 (and its worlds-smallest-jet variant, the BD-5J) at Bede Aircraft, in Newton, a few miles north of Wichita (see American Aviation, previously in this section).
    Rutan's experience with the radical homebuilt BD-5 kits helped prepare him for his radical pioneering ventures into "composite" (carbon-fiber shell) construction, and modern "canard" and "tandem-wing" designs. Rutan's popular, speedy composite/canard homebuilt designs rapidly made him the world's leading expert on this cutting-edge technology, and made Rutan Aircraft the most-admired, most-watched innovator in modern aeronautics.
    When Wichita's Beech Aircraft wanted to infuse new life into its aging line, it hired Rutan to serve as Director of Engineering, and Rutan guided the initial development of the Beech Starship -- America's first certificated (mass-manufactured) composite airplane, and one of the world's first certificated canard aircraft (the horizontal tail is moved to the nose, for greater efficiency).
    Rutan then returned to his Scaled Composites, Inc. company in the California desert, where he continued to develop design ideas for other companies and NASA. When the "X-Prize" was announced -- offering $10 million for the first successful, reusable, manned, private spacecraft to fly to space twice (with people) -- Rutan applied his expertise to create a radical composite aerospace craft system (involving two craft), which accomplished the mission, winning the prize.

Piper Aircraft
Though firmly rooted in Pennsylvania at the time, Piper was swamped during the mid-1950s with soaring demand for its Piper Tri-Pacer. Taking advantage of the abundant supply of trained aviation workers in the Wichita area, Piper opened a 'branch' factory in nearby Ponca City, Oklahoma, for a short time, until the Cessna 172/Skyhawk began to eclipse the Tri-Pacer as America's most popular airplane.
    In the 1970s, when a hositile corporate takeover drove the Piper family out of their company, one of old Bill Piper's sons, Howard 'Pug' Piper (who had directed Piper's new aircraft developments), defected to Wichita's Beech Aircraft Co. -- where he briefly became Director of Engineering, developing near-clones of his T-tailed Pipers: the Tomahawk trainer (imitated by the Beech Model 77 Skipper) and the Piper Seminole light twin (imitated by the Beech Model 76 Duchess). (For a detailed history of Piper Aircraft, click here .)

WACO (Weaver Aircraft Co.) , Alliance, Ohio & other Ohio Cities (alias Advance Aircraft Co.)
This legendary leading 1920s-1940s biplane-maker was co-founded by Buck Weaver -- a friend of Wichita's first successful airplane manufacturer,Matty Laird. Weaver worked briefly with Laird at Wichita's E.M.Laird Mfg. Co., building the industry-pioneering Swallow, then returned to Ohio to build its first significant competitor, the WACO 4.   WACO became the chief American rival to Wichita's Swallow and Travel Air for dominance in 1920's civilian aircraft manufacturing. For a couple of years, WACO was the largest-volume producer of aircraft in America, until surpassed in 1929 by Wichita's Travel Air.




  • Aviation Museums in Kansas
    Aero Enthusiasts' Corner, City University of New York
    Aviation Museums throughout U.S. & Canada:
    visitor info, collections, ratings, visitor comments.
    Kansas Aviation Museum (Wichita),
               KAM special information
  • Wichita -- The "Air Capital of the World" -- Its Aviation History
    The city which has built far more aircraft than any other city on Earth (over 250,000).

    "What the National Archives is to American history, Wichita is to aviation. Powered flight may have been born on those sand dunes in Kitty Hawk but it grew up here in Wichita" ~ Nicholas A. Sabatini, FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety, in the Opening Speech at the annual AIAA Technology Conference (the aerospace industry's leading technical conference), Wichita, Sept. 27, 2006
    Wings Over Kansas
    Wichita State University (WSU) Libraries, Special Collections
    Kansas Business Hall of Fame, Emporia State University
    National Aviation Hall of Fame (includes several past Wichitans,
       such as Beech [Mr. & Mrs.], Cessna, Stearman,
                      Lear, Rutan, and other Kansans)
    Back to the Future (brief history of Wichita)


    Major Aviation Facilities in Wichita area:




    Swallow   (started as E. M. Laird Aviation Co., Inc.)
      First successful commercial airplane-manufacturing company in the U.S.A.
      and the Air Capital's first airplane manufacturer;
      included Mr. Beech (later head of Travel Air & Beech Aircraft)
      and Mr. Stearman (later head of Stearman-Northrop and Lockheed)
      and George "Buck" Weaver (co-founder of WACO)
    Emil Matthew "Matty" Laird (Early Birds)
    (or CLICK HERE)
    Laird / E.M. Laird Airplane Company (
    Swallow / New Swallow Airplane Company (
    Brief Swallow Company History (and E.M. Laird company history)
        EAA AirVenture Museum, Oshkosh, WI.

    Travel Air   (see also Beech / Hawker & Raytheon Aircraft )
        the largest civilian-plane maker in the USA in the late 1920's
       started by Mr. Beech, Mr. Cessna and Mr. Stearman
    The Travel Air Company history, Arkansas Air Museum
    History of the Travel Air Airplane Manufacturing Co., Inc. (with PICTURES!) ,

    by Dr. Jay M. Price, Professor of History, Wichita State University;
    Member, National Council of Public Historians
    Original Travel Air factory designated historic site
    General Aviation News, 10/6/2006
    The Travel Air Airplane Manufacturing Company in Wichita Designated Historic Aerospace Site
    American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics, Sept.20,2006 statement.
    The Travel Air 2000, 3000 and 4000 , Holcomb's Aerodrome
    Barnstorming Adventures Ltd. (company providing barnstorming rides in Travel Airs;
    Click on "Biplane Rides" for details of their Travel Air 4000 biplane rides,
    with a detailed Travel Air history at the bottom of the page.
    Click on their "Gallery" button for current/historical pix of Travel Airs.)
    Travel Air D4D 'Pepsi Skywriter' at National Air & Space Museum
    and history of Travel Air company and aircraft,
    by National Air & Space Museum (Smithsonian Institute)
    Travel Air 'Mystery S' race plane -- the record-breaking civilian plane
    which fundamentally changed American military aircraft design
    (The Aviation History Online Museum)
    Peter Bowers' articles on Travel Air, in General Aviation News:
    Travel Air: A classic that keeps on flying , (10/24/2003)
    One airplane, many engines - Travel Airs... variety of powerplants in the '20 and '30s (7/10/1998)
    More Travel Airs 4000 and A-4000 series... variety of model designations , (7/24/1998)

    Boeing-Wichita / BMAC (Boeing Military Airplane Co.)
        (for most of Boeing's history, its vast Wichita plant -- one of America's largest --
         has been the largest Boeing complex outside of Washington state;
         Boeing-Wichita produced the Stearman trainer biplanes, most B-29, B-47, & B-52 bombers,
           -- including the entire currently-flying B-52 fleet -- and Air Force One 747 conversions,
            plus major sections of all Boeing airliners, including fuselages of the 727, 737 & 757)
    The Boeing Company main website
    Boeing-Wichita Division, overview & history
    Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Wichita Division, overview & history
    Boeing Military Airplanes, Wichita Division, overview & partial history (private airliner-enthusiasts' website)
    Pictures of Boeing airliners (foreign private website)
    Bombers section, (private website about U.S. Air Force S.A.C.)
    Bombers and Bomber Weapons, (private website, military analysts)
    The Boeing Company

    Stearman (also see: Boeing )
    Stearman was aviation legend in his own time, by Paul Soutar, Wichita Eagle, (12/13/2003)
    Home page, Airshow website
    Stearman Restorers Association
    National Stearman Fly-In
      annually, beginning on Labor Day,
      at Galesburg (IL) Municipal Airport
    Stearman Airplanes & Adventures: 

        • The Flight of the "Flying Carpet", 1930
      (Halliburton & Stephens around the world in Stearman C3B)
        • The Stearman C3R, by Peter Bowers, General Aviation News (9/17/1999)
      the most important, successful civilian "Stearman"
        • "Stearman C3R: Impressions of a Different Age"
    (expert pilot review of the Stearman C3R with Stearman history)
    by Budd Davisson, Flight Journal, Oct., 1997
        • "Stearman YPT-9 Cloudboy: A Different Kind of Stearman"
    (expert pilot review of a prewar Stearman trainer, with Stearman history)
    by Budd Davisson, Air Progress, Feb., 1974
        • Boeing Kaydet ('Stearman') military trainer biplane
      (alias   Model 75,   PT-13,   PT-17,   PT-27,   N2S,   etc.)
    In WWII, the most important U.S. military primary trainer,
    (over 10,000 built in Wichita for the Army and Navy),
    which became the most important pioneer cropduster,
    and now today's most popular airshow biplane.   • Stearman Kaydet Trainer
    (Boeing official company history)
      • Stearman - The Legend Lives On!
    (expert pilot review of the Stearman trainer, with Stearman history)
    by Budd Davisson, Air Progress Vintage Guide, 1989

    Cessna Aircraft Company, div. of Textron Corp.
    Cessna Owners' Organization
    Cessna Pilots Association
    Cessna 172-182 Club
    The Twin Cessna Flyer organization
    Bamboo Bomber Club
    'Cessna Declares Independence...';
      Plant Sites & Parks magazine, Jan.1997

    Beech / Hawker & Raytheon Aircraft
    Raytheon Aircraft Co., div. of Raytheon Corp.
    Raytheon Corp., Beechcraft product list
    Raytheon Corp., Hawker product list
    Raytheon Corp., Airliner product list
    American Bonanza (& Baron) Society
    Twin Bonanza Association
    Staggerwing Club, history pages

    Learjet Div. of Bombardier, Ltd.
    Bombardier Aerospace
    Learjet Div. history
    Learjets, Goodweather Flyer (UK)
    "Learjet 24D: Blowtorch for Six -- Daydream Believer"
        pilot report by Budd Davisson, Air Progress(?) October, 1970

  • William P. Lear, Sr., founder, Learjet, Inc.; biographies:
    Lemelson-MIT Awards Program
    National Inventors Hall of Fame
    Horatio Alger Assn.
  • Mooney / Superior
    (Al Mooney's Mooney Aircraft Co. started in Wichita in 1929 and quickly collapsed; but after quitting Culver , he revived it in Wichita in 1947, and moved to Kerrville, Texas in 1953. It is one of the world's leading suppliers of high-performance single-engine light aircraft. The Mooney M-18 Mite was the company's main Wichita product, and its first success.)
    Mooney Aircraft Company
    Mooney Owners Of America
    Mooney Aircraft Pilots Association
    Mooney Aircraft Web Ring (coalition of websites)
    Culver & Mooney Mite history
    • Book review & summary:
    "The Al Mooney Story: They All Fly Through the Same Air,"
    Mooney Mite website
    "Mitey Might," Mooney Mite pilot report
        by Budd Davisson, Air Progress, April, 1985

      (Airbus Industrie -- a French-based consortium of European aerospace companies organized to produce large jetliners -- opened its North American operations (engineering) office in Wichita, to take advantage of the city's vast population of experienced aviation engineers. Today, these Kansas engineers help develop the world's largest airliner -- the Airbus A380 -- and other Airbus planes.
    Airbus Industrie official main corporate website
    "Airbus A380 vs. Boeing Dreamliner" article
    (from recent issue of InFlightUSA)
    "Airbus superjumbo ready to fly; Wichita office lands new projects" article
    (Wichita Business JournalJan.28,2005)

    Information and Internet Links to...

    Wichita & Southern/Western Kansas:

    Ace Aircraft Mfg. (Otto Corben's Baby Ace, 1929, Wichita, was one of the very first popular "homebuilt" designs)
    Ace Aircraft, Inc.
    Int'l Miniature Aircraft Ass'n.

    Alon (The famous, pioneering Ercoupe was reborn in McPherson, as the Alon Aircoupe)
    Ercoupe, Alon, Aircoupe, M10 Webring
    Ercoupe Owners Club
    Ercoupers Online Community
    "Those Wonderful 'Coupes," by Howard Fried ,
    Ercoupe 415C page, amateur history & overview of Ercoupe/Aircoupe family
    'Flying an Aircoupe...' essay, by David W. Vernon, owner/operator of various Aircoupes, including Alon A-2A.
    Essco Aircraft, Manuals & Supplies (for Alon Aircraft, & others),

    Bede (Jim Bede's famous/infamous BD-5 kits were manufactured in Newton)
    Bedecorp, LLC (Jim Bede's current company)
    BD-17 & BD-18 designs
    Bede's other designs
    The BD-5 Network & the BD-5 Bulletin
    BD-Micro Technologies, Inc
    EAA BD-5 Links & magazine-article listings
    BD-5 exhibit & history , National Air & Space Museum
    "The BD-5 Actually Flies" - Pilot Report by Budd Davisson
      (Air Progress, November, 1974) on

    Call Aircraft (the first "Call Aircraft", alias "Aerial Navigation Co. of America, Inc.," in Girard, 1908-1912. The giant Call aeroplanes were no success, but Call was one of the first aircraft manufacturers west of the Mississippi.)
    Early birds didn't always escape the bonds of earth
    by Dan Close, Wichita Eagle (Oct.15, 1984)

    Culver (The tiny Culver Cadet, designed by legendary Al Mooney, was built 1941-1946, in Wichita. The tiny 2-seat personal plane was reworked into various wartime aerial target drones (especially the PQ-8 / PQ-14), built in the thousands.   Led to Mooney Aircraft. Also see "Mooney," above)
    Culver & Mooney Mite history from website
    "The Al Mooney Story: They All Fly Through the Same Air,"
          Book review & summary, Mooney Aircraft Owners' Events

    Culver "Type Club" List (support organizations for Culver operators)
      from Vintage Airplane magazine, of Vintage Aircraft Association (EAA)

    Eagle Aircraft & HGL Aero (Modern Australian airplane-maker Eagle Aircraft sells their lively 2-seat Eagle 150 composite-canard sport/trainer in the U.S. through HGL Aero, at the Augusta, KS airport, who assembles them for delivery nationwide.)
    Eagle Aircraft, Australia , the manufacturer
    Eagle 150B online brochure, richly illustrated, from AvWeb online aviation magazine
    Eagle 150 summary, Australian Aviation Archive
    Eagle 150 Pilot Report, by Ed Wischmeyer,
    In Flight USA magazine, August 2001

    Fairchild Engine & Airplane Corp. (Winfield, KS., 1947, branch of major mid-century plane-maker)
    Fairchild Club
    Antique Aircraft Ass'n, Fairchild Page, (Budd Davission) Fairchild F-24 pilot report
    Fairchild companies (

    Funk (Coffeyville, KS., late 1930's. Popular, strong-hauling, small, single-engine plane)
    Coffeyville Aviation Heritage Museum
    EAA AirVenture Museum, Funk display

    Great Lakes (The Great Lakes biplanes were renowned for their exceptional aerobatic capabilities, and were the choice of champions for decades. For a time, Wichita shared the revived Great Lakes biplane company with Enid, Okla.)
    Great Lakes Sport Trainer Biplane website
    "Harvey Swack and the Great Lakes Trainer" Great Airplanes, Incorporated
    "The Great, Great Lakes", - Great Lakes 2T-1A Pilot Report
      by Budd Davisson (Air Progress, July 1975) on

    Helio (the famous Helio Courier STOL plane got its start in Pittsburg, Kansas, 1956)
    Helio Aircraft Company

    Javelin (Dave Blanton's conversions of Cessnas, especially with automobile engines)

    LaFrance (steel-tube-and-fabric homebuilt design based on Culver Cadet. See also, "Culver," above)
    Resurrection of the Flying Lumberyard, by Michael La France, Sport Aviation Ass'n
         (review of Neil LaFrance's metal-frame version of the Culver Cadet, apparently by a relative)

    Piaggio (of Italy, originally built cabins of PD-180 Avanti canard-turboprop-twin in Wichita)
    Piaggio America / Piaggio Aero commentary
    AW&ST reviews & news, 2001
    EBACE report on PD-108 Avanti
    NBAA report on PD-108 Avanti

    Prescott (unsuccessful, but innovative, fast, 4-seat Prescott Pusher homebuilt)
    Aerofiles info on the P-Pusher
       (and some other planes that start with 'P')}

       (also see Air Progress magazine, March 1988)
    pictures of the Prescott Pusher::
    Jentsch/Prescott Pusher at OUV Rally, Speyer, 1998
    Prescott Pusher, at Oshkosh 2002, by AvWeb
    short comments on the Prescott Pusher (with unrelated info):
    owner/builder's remarks
    Burt Rutan notes P-Pusher over-rotation damage
    directional-control problems
    partial project
    P-Pusher & Prescott's balsa-model pusher
    videos of the Prescott Pusher, in libraries, etc.:
    EAA Chapter 54 Video Collection
    also see: J. Douglas Allen, filmmaker

    Purvis-Wilson (the first patented rotary-wing aircraft in America, did not fly, but contained features used in subsequent helicopters)
    America's First Patented Helicopter
    High Plains Museum, Goodland, Kansas

    Early birds didn't always escape the bonds of earth
    by Dan Close, Wichita Eagle (Oct.15, 1984)
    America's First Patented Helicopter
    High Plains Museum, Goodland, Kansas

    RANS (Hays, since 1983. Popular "microlight" aircraft, and small kitplanes, including the Coyote.)
    RANS Aircraft Co.
    AvGas website, RANS topic page

    Seibel Helicopter (the first successful Kansas-built helicopter to fly, became the record-setting Cessna Skyhook/Seneca helicopter of the 1950's and early 1960's. Mr. Seibel later joined Bell Helicopter as a key engineer.)
    The Cessna CH-1 Helicopter, superb illustrated history of Seibel's designs.
      by former Seibel colleague Also online at alternate web site ., Helicopter History Site: 1950's Helicopters
    Oral History of Richard Ten Eyck, helicopter engineer (who worked on Skyhook)

    Wren STOL (radical conversions of Cessna singles into STOL aircraft)
    Peterson's Performance Plus (current WrenSTOL certificate holder)
    Cessna, Wren Conversions

    Northeast Kansas & Kansas City:

    American Eagle / Roos (Company of origin for many spin-off manufacturers & early aviation innovators), American Eagle / Roos page

    Longren (the Longren Flyer, first Kansas-built plane to fly, was basis of more-successful Alexander Eaglerock and American Eagle biplanes. Topeka's Albin K. Longen became Cessna executive)
    Albin Kasper Longren, Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame inductee,
        ( bio.)
    Albin K. Longren notes & photos
      from, website of the Early Birds,
      the organization of America's pre-World-War-I aviators
    Longren Aircraft History   (click here for alternate site .)
      Brief (but informative) history of Longren and his aircraft.
      from Landings Aviation News by Pacific Flyer, Jan.2008
      (NOTE: Viewed best on a 1024x768 screen or larger.)
    Longren 1922 Altitude Record   (click here for alternate site .)
      (includes photo of Longren biplane)
      from Landings Aviation News by Pacific Flyer, Jan.2008
      (NOTE: Viewed best on a 1024x768 screen or larger.)
    Albin K. Longren, portraits in Kansas History, Kansas Historical Society
    Longren biplane, display in Kansas Museum of History
    Longren history & modeling project, including letter from Longren & photos
    Topeka Capital-Journal newspaper articles:
      -  May 5, 2003,
    "Wamego man strives to continue Longren legacy,"
      -  March 3, 2003,
    "Aviator's Legacy Renewed"
    also see:   Longren Flyer's 90th Anniversary observed
    , Sept. 4, 2001, Salina Journal/Associated Press

    Luscombe (Don Luscombe's famous company)
    Luscombe Aircraft Corporation (revived version) ,
             current manufacturer of Luscombe 11E (revivial of Luscombe 11A Sedan)
    Renaissance Aircraft,current manufacturer of revived Luscombe 8F Silvaire
    The Don Luscombe Aviation History Foundation
    The Luscombes - Luscombe Aircraft, by Roger Ritter
      photo-illustrated history of Luscombe Aircraft Co.
      & Luscombe planes, with specifications
    Luscombe Phantom, by Peter Bowers, General Aviation News (8/20/1999)
    "The Luscombe Model 8" pilot report, from "Comparing the Classics, a Series"
      by Budd Davisson, EAA/Sport Aviation, Feb., 1998

    Marshall / Montague (the Montague Monoplane, sometimes called "M-2," was Al Mooney's second design. See the Mooney Aircraft links, above.)

    Porterfield (the Porterfield Collegiate -- similar to the Piper Cub -- trained many WWII pilots), Porterfield page
    Sun'n'Fun Air Museum
    'Remembering the Porterfields,' by Peter Bowers, General Aviation News (12/21/01)

    North American (one of America's leading military plane makers;
    During WWII, for a time, all North American B-25 Mitchell bombers
    were built at the Kansas City (KS) Fairfax Airport.)
    North American, Boeing's official history of
      (Boeing acquired Rockwell in the 1990's, who, in turn, had acquired North American in the 1960's)
    History of North American's WWII plant at Fairfax Airport,
       by Univ. of Missouri at Kansas City, history of K.C. in WWII:
    Superb photos (with text) of Fairfax plant in operation
    Kansas City's WWII "Home front" history, with details about Fairfax plant
    History of Fairfax Airport (alias "Fairfax Army Air Field"),
          including North American's operation there; and other Eastern Ks. "lost" airports
    B-25 history, official USAF Museum website
    Detailed B-25 history & 1st B-25 version

    Rearwin / Commonwealth (the Rearwin Sportster was a popular bushplane)
    Rearwin Airplanes Foundation
    "The Forgotten Rearwins," by Peter Bowers,
    "Rearwin: Story of Men, Planes, & Aircraft Manufacturing During the Great Depression", ( book)
    REARWIN aircraft negatives,
    Rearwin Aircraft Ads, Ad
    Rearwin page, Ken's Aviation website,

    Republic Aviation (from World War II to the Vietnam War, one of the main U.S. manufacturers of military fighter and attack aircraft (P-47 Thunderbolt, F-84 Thunderjet/Thunderstreak, F-105 Thunderchief, etc.). Though Republic's main factory was at Farmingdale, NY, hundreds of F-84s, during the 1950s, were built in a large General Motors factory at Fairfax Airport, near downtown Kansas City, Kansas. In July, 1965, planemaker Fairchild acquired Republic, creating "Fairchild-Republic" aircraft brand. In September, Republic became the Republic Aviation Division of Fairchild Hiller.)

    "Republic Aviation", (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
    "Republic Aviation Corporation History" (from the website for Republic Seabee amphibian aircraft owners)
    "Republic F-84F", at the Kansas Aviation Museum (this one was built at the Fairfax Airport, Kansas City, Kansas factory)
    ""The Republic Aviation Corporation F-84 Production Line" (photos from LIFE Magazine, city and date unknown; CAUTION: uncertain website)

    ~~~ AIRLINES ~~~

    TWA (TransWorld Airlines):

    One of the world's top airlines, for 75 years.

    From its world headquarters
    at Fairfax Municipal Airport, Kansas City, Kansas,
    TWA's big airliners covered the globe,
    carrying more passengers than almost any other airline.

    Founded as "Western Air Express" in 1925,
    merged with Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT) in 1930,
    to become "Transcontinental & Western Air" (T&WA).

    TWA quickly became one of America's "Big Four" airlines,
    and gradually evolved into "TransWorld Airlines,"
    one of the world's few truly global airlines.
    At its peak in 1969-1970, it was the world's leading airline.

    Owned 25 years by eccentric billionaire/aviator Howard Hughes,
    TWA was always one of the most powerful U.S. airlines
    (competing with Pan Am, American, United, and Eastern),
    until its financial collapse in 2001, selling out to American.

    Decisive force in development of the

    • Travel Air 5000 (as TAT airliner)
    • Douglas DC-3
    • Lockheed Constellation
    • Boeing 747
    TWA history
    on the U.S. government's official
    Centennial of Flight website

    "Fly TWA" historical site (by former TWA employees)

    web site for former TWA employees & TWA enthusiasts

    TWA section, airline history, from PBS-TV Series "Chasing the Sun"(

    brief "History of TWA Airlines" (

    Summary data from

    Photos of the TWA Fleet on
    (1st page of 20 pages of photos)

    Old TWA Ads, Timetables, Route Maps, 1931-2000

    ~ (for larger images click here )

    1960 TWA film (requires FLASH, & JavaScript turned on).

    Trans World Airlines Terminal, John F. Kennedy Airport
    One of the most famous works of modern architecture,
    designed by architect Eero Saarinen, and built 1956-63,
    (on the website of Bluffton College).

    Fatal Events Since 1970 for Trans World Airlines

    Trans World Airlines Collection (historical documents)
    Special Collections, M-234
    St. Louis Mercantile Library,
    University of Missouri - St. Louis

    Air Midwest:

    America's 1st Certificated Commuter Airline
    (begun in Wichita, circa 1969, as Air [Taxi] Services, Inc.),
    eventually 8th largest U.S. regional air carrier;
    still active today, nationwide
    (55 cities in 19 states, New York to California,
    flying turboprops with other major airlines' insignia,
    -- "code-sharing" -- as div. of Mesa Airlines)

    Air Midwest, summary by wikipedia-org
    including logo, route map, history, corporate info
    (CAUTION: supplies unattributed, unverified information)

    Air Midwest history, and biography of founding president
    (Gary M. Adamson), for
    2003 Kansas Governor's Aviation Honor Award
    (on Alumni page of Wichita High School - East)

    Archive of articles about Air Midwest
    in the Wichita Business Journal

    Cessna 206 #N5228U - Air Midwest's first airplane
    (or what remains of it), at Kansas Aviation Museum.

    Air Midwest named Regional Airline of the Year, 1982,
    by Airline Transport World (ATW), the magazine of the airline industry.
    ("ATW Industry Achievement Awards Description & History")

    "'Flexible' Air Midwest achieves success as an industry maverick."
    from Travel Weekly (Mar.1984), NorthStar Travel Media, LLC
    posted on, cached on

    Summary history of Air Midwest, by Italian website,
    with downloadable "Flight Simulator" add-in
    simulating Air Midwest's Fairchild Metro III N226AM

    'Air Midwest [new] chief [Stephens] began his career as a baggage handler,'
    by Jerry Siebenmark, Wichita Business Journal (5/26/00)

    History of Mesa Air Group, Inc. (official Mesa Air website)
    (parent company of Air Midwest since (5/26/00)

    Mesa Air Group Announces Enhanced Codeshare Agreement with United Airlines'
    Press release, Oct. 17, 2003, by Mesa Air Group, Inc.
    announcing it has signed an agreement to create a codeshare relationship
    between Mesa Air Group subsidiary Air Midwest, Inc. and United Airlines
    (provides details on Air Midwest staff, aircraft and business affairs, 2003)


    The infamous Charlotte, North Carolina crash, January 8, 2003,
    of Air Midwest (alias US Airways Express) Flight 5481

    -- a Beech 1900D turboprop airliner (N233YV)
    -- killing all 19 passengers and 2 crewmembers.

    This crash was a landmark event in U.S. airline history, resulting in various changes to safety regulations and practices. Information and links are below:

    NOTE: Though this was one of the most notorious of all commuter airliner crashes, and raised intense interest, worldwide, in many questions about operating practices in the airline industry, it was while Air Midwest was under the management of Texas-based Mesa Air Group, and should not be taken as a reflection upon the original founders and pioneers of Air Midwest.

    Until the takeover by Mesa Air Group in 1991, Air Midwest had NEVER had a fatal crash of an Air Midwest airplane despite being the first certificated commuter airline in the U.S., and eventually becoming the 8th largest regional airline in the United States.   When it was an independent company, Air Midwest was well-known for its good safety record -- in an industry with an otherwise very poor safety record (the early U.S. commuter airline industry).

    Charlotte crash, January 8, 2003
    -- LINKS:

    National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
    Case #DCA03MA022
    "Air Midwest (d.b.a. US Airways Express) Flight 5481
    Charlotte, North Carolina, January 8, 2003"
    Official NTSB reports, documents, and findings -- and special report.
    (NOTE: This may seem a rather stiff, official document, and it may be better understood by first reviewing one or more of the web pages listed below):

    "The Charlotte Beech 1900D Crash - NTSB Reviews Factuals"
    IASA - Australia's equivalent of the NTSB,
    citing NTSB and news media reports, with photos & maps

    "Flight 5481 declared emergency before crash"
    Cable News Network (CNN), March 1, 2004,
    immediate news from the crash site, including
    interviews with eyewitnesses, video, and extensive sidebar articles

    "FAA can't find records of inspectors before Charlotte crash"
    Associated Press, in USA TODAY, 05-12-2003

    "FAA changes weight rules for aircraft"
    By Alan Levin, USA TODAY, 05-12-2003

    "FAA decrees changes on Beech 1900 after 2nd crash"
    Reuters, Oct. 10, 2003,
    cited at
    notes concerns about maintenance manual and procedures

    Poor Maintenance Cited as Primary Cause of Air Midwest Crash
    Inaccurate Weight and Balance Program Contributed to Being Out of Aft CG Limit
    Air Safety Week, March 1, 2004, cited at
    page 1 of 3 pages

    Companies Accept Responsibility
    and Publicly Apologize to the Families

    of the January 8, 2003 Air Midwest Flight 5481 Crash
    in Charlotte, North Carolina
    On the website of the lawsuit attorneys, a press release about the event, with photos and video.
    (A related article was published in Andrews Aviation Litigation Reporter, Volume 24, Issue 5 / April 2006 by Thomson West; and in the ATLA-Association of Trial Lawyers of America - Aviation Law Section Newsletter Vol. 13, No. 3, Spring 2006)

    Ryan International Airlines:

    International Custom Cargo, Charter & Specialty Scheduled Airline

    From its headquarters in Wichita, KS,
    Ryan International
        (not to be confused with Europe's "RyanAir")
    employed 800 people,
    operating Boeing jetliners worldwide.
    until its relocation to Rockford, Illinois in 2006.

    Ryan International Airlines website Ryan International Airlines HISTORY page

    Summary data from

    Business Analysis from

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