Wichita Aero Club members came out en masse yesterday to hear aviation historian Ed Phillips recount the Air Capital’s one-of-a-kind history. Sonia Greteman, president and creative director of Greteman Group, kicked off the club’s November meeting by introducing our recently published book, Wichita: Where Aviation Took Wing.
It familiarizes readers with Wichita’s early birds and barnstormers, the daring pioneers and entrepreneurs who risked everything to birth an industry. Most important, it shares why aviation isn’t just our past, but our future. Sonia encouraged everyone in the audience to follow the dreamers that made us the Air Capital. To promote our heritage and our role as one of the world’s only five major aviation clusters. Others are Dallas, Montreal, Seattle and Toulouse. Wichita’s is the most diverse. Wichita brought it all together. The people. The planes. The promise. And we had an excellent speaker to tell us about it.
Uniquely Positioned to tell the Air Capital’s Story
Ed makes the Air Capital and our aircraft manufacturers his specialty. He has authored eight books, including Wings Over the Prairie, and multitudes of articles on the development of Wichita’s aircraft industry. Many of the conversations he shared with people such as Dwayne Wallace, Olive Ann Beech, and other Wichita icons were among the last interviews they granted. He knows his stuff, having earned a degree in journalism with a minor in aviation from the University of North Dakota. Oh, and he’s also a pilot, A&P mechanic and advanced ground instructor. Ed worked for Beech Aircraft and Piedmont Airlines. For more than two decades, he wrote for Aviation Week magazine.
The presentation skillfully blended facts with Ed’s unique insights and personal anecdotes. That man has the stories. While I’ve heard him speak before, I appreciated that this time he highlighted more women who had a major influence on aviation in Wichita. A good reminder that breaking the glass ceiling started a long time ago in what is often considered a male-dominated industry.
Interested in reading even more about the men, women and companies that made the Air Capital? You can order your book here.
Photos courtesy Junebug Clark, Visual Media Group.