At the dawn of the 20th century, aviation took wing in Wichita and soared to heights reached nowhere else. Thanks to striking monumental-scale installations created by Greteman Group, visitors passing through the city’s new Eisenhower National Airport can learn the riveting story. How this city on the plains rose to become the Air Capital of the World. Anchoring the history display, a 10-foot circular center panel explains how the Air Capital came to be – our central location, lots of clear sunny days, flat land for runways, resilient farmer-mechanics who could build and fix anything, plus oil money to grease the pistons.
Wow. This is the best display of aviation history in a public place – in the world.TOM ZWEMKE
TZ Productions, owner
Cessna Aircraft, retired marketing communications director
I sometimes wonder what waiting friends and family did before they had this exhibit to explore.VICTOR WHITE
Wichita Airport Authority
A series of six wing-shaped, interior-lit pods encapsulate individual stories. They range from the early birds and barnstormers to the pioneering entrepreneurs who established dozens of aircraft and associated factories in the 1920s. The story continues with the founding of Cessna, Beechcraft and Stearman (which became Boeing Wichita, then Spirit AeroSystems) and the massive build-up during World War II. Robust post-war growth got another boost when Bill Lear came to town and launched the business jet revolution (and jet-set lifestyle) with his Learjet. The story continues to present day.
Telling the story of the Air Capital made us stand a little taller.DEANNA HARMS
Two videos bookend the displays. One focuses on our aviation heritage with newly discovered historic film clips. Who doesn’t love to watch a wingwalker? The other provides a platform for area aircraft manufacturers to showcase their latest-and-greatest products. Watch this video, and you’ll know you’re in the Air Capital. Wichita remains at the center of global aviation design and manufacturing with Textron Aviation, Spirit AeroSystems, Bombardier Learjet, Airbus and dozens of smaller aviation manufacturers, suppliers and support organizations.
Concourse supergraphics educate and engage even as travelers dash to flights. Panels communicate everything from aerodynamic principles to the pros and cons of various structures. One offers silhouettes of the 100 most groundbreaking aircraft manufactured here – out of 300,000 built to date. Another illustrates aerodynamic wing design and the biplane-monoplane debate between Clyde Cessna and Walter Beech. We wanted to acknowledge and illuminate the past as well as celebrate the future. The gleaming new terminal opened in 2015 and, we’re proud to say, our Air Capital history display creates a key focal point.