Just before this year’s NBAA convention in Orlando – the industry’s 62nd – the Wall Street Journal ran the article “As Aviation Jobs Take Off, Wichita Frets Its Future.” In it Peter Sanders reported that aviation-manufacturing jobs lost during this downturn probably will not return to Wichita, rather future growth will happen abroad.
Locally, there’s a big push to get President Obama to Wichita – and to have him voice support for business aviation, an industry that contributes more than $150 billion annually to the U.S. economy. We hope Obama comes and tours our manufacturing plants. We’ve worked hard to become the Air Capital of the World. It’s a mantle we must retain.
Feeling Wichita’s Presence
Touring the still-mammoth convention center and its 1,000-plus exhibitors and the 100-aircraft-strong static display, we saw Wichita everywhere. In addition to the manufacturers – Bombardier Learjet, Cessna, Hawker Beechcraft – there were many other familiar players: FlightSafety International (which operates five of its 40 learning centers here), Signature Flight Support (at Mid-Continent Airport since 2008), Dallas Airmotive (which just opened a facility here in April ‘09) and too many allied businesses to name.
The industry hasn’t begun a full-fledged rebound yet. But it will. And when it does, Wichita will be ready.