Serving as co-chair of the recent Wichita Aero Club Ball reminded me of my wedding. Countless hours of planning. Meetings with vendors. Analyzing budgets. Determining the menu. Fretting over every detail. Wondering why people refuse to RSVP until the last minute. Waking up in the middle of the night the week before with checklist items running through my head. Then it’s time. The day arrives. When it’s over, you’re completely exhausted. But gratified.

More than 200 members of the aviation community nationwide came together to attend this inaugural event. In addition to an evening of networking, sharing and dancing – attendees had an added incentive: raising funds for workers furloughed by this ongoing, when-will-it-ever-end economic downturn.

Lending a Hand Up

Rather than hosting a black-tie event requiring a major investment in finery, guests were asked to put that money toward silent and live-auction items. And they did. The committee’s hopes of donating $10,000 to United Way of the Plains Laid-Off Workers Fund were more than realized. Dave Franson and I were able to present Pat Hanrahan with a check for $31,800. Thank you, everyone!

Proclaiming Our Legacy

A highlight of the evening for our agency was the chance to premiere plans for Wichita Mid-Continent Airport’s distinctive new terminal. Our team has been working closely with aircraft manufacturers, historians, architects and airport authorities to ensure the integration of aviation themes and displays. When it opens in 2012, people visiting our city will immediately know that they’ve arrived at the Air Capital of the World. We’ll finally have a front door worthy of our heritage.

Keeping Our Eyes on the Skies

Keynote speaker Tom Poberezny, chairman and CEO of the Experimental Aircraft Association, shared the excitement of EAA AirVenture, or as its thousands of enthusiasts call it: Oshkosh. And our very own Mayor Carl Brewer stirred some passions, too, with his welcome assurance to get our message heard in Washington, D.C.

The aviation industry is a vital part of U.S. and global economies. Was there ever any doubt?