February 1, 2013

Wichita Business Journal
Daniel McCoy

Wichita Aero Club pulls out all the stops at 2013 annual gala

I get to do some pretty fun stuff in this job. I’ve flown along on a KC-135 refueling training mission; I’ve ridden around the airport on one of the fire trucks and seen the water cannon in action; I stood only a matter of yards from the runway by Boeing Wichita (in the freezing cold) and took photos of the 787 Dreamliner as it landed here last January.

But the best part of the job, without a doubt, is the people I get to meet.  got to see a lot of those folks this past Saturday evening as a crowd of Air Capital VIPs gathered for the Wichita Aero Club’s 2013 gala event and honored this year’s recipients of the Wichita Aero Club Trophy, John O’Leary and Airbus.

I even got to meet some new folks, two of whom came a very long way just for the event. Charles Champion, executive vice president of engineering at Airbus, came all the way from France, while Matthew Orchard, vice president and head of wing design for Airbus, came in from the U.K.

It was a fantastic evening. Aero Club President Dave Franson tells me the credit goes to the gala committee of Ashley Bowen Cook of Greteman Group; Becky Tuttle, wife of club Chairman Patrick Tuttle; and Tessa Brungardt and Pat Ritchey, both of the Aero Club.

“They did just an extraordinary job of putting on the event,” Franson says.

I can attest to that. Any event that includes a string quartet, a photo booth, a candy bar and ice sculptures is going to get high marks from me.

It’s one of the club’s biggest events of the year, but Franson doesn’t get to take much of a break afterwards. He’s already preparing for next month’s luncheon, which will feature Cessna Aircraft CEO Scott Ernest, one of the Wichita Business Journal’s Newsmakers for 2012.

Franson’s also already putting together the club’s golf tournament in June.

It will be another big year for the Aero Club, one that will include the first awarding of the Edward W. Stimpson Scholarship to help advance the education of a student interested in aviation.

There could be more events in the works for 2013, Franson says, ones that could have members meeting outside of the normal luncheon setting.

Those aren’t finalized yet, but Franson says to “stay tuned.”