Dreams of Flight: Kansas Sets its Sights Above

With the wide-open skies as inspiration, Kansas is taking off with many top-rated aviation and aerospace attractions. Major aircraft companies such as Boeing, Cessna, Raytheon, and Bombardier Learjet, as well as new aircraft entrepreneurs have made Kansas a leader in aviation manufacturing. Innovative aviation pioneers, designers, and pilots from Kansas are known throughout the world. This rich heritage has inspired numerous aviation-related attractions to open around the state.

From the early days of flight to today, Kansas has been a leader in aviation. Examples of early aircraft design and construction can be seen in museums across the state. In Liberal, the Mid-America Air Museum is the country’s fifth largest general aviation museum and features over 100 aircraft and many hands-on aviation science exhibits. Its collection includes Lloyd Stearman’s Yellow Peril and Dwane’s Plane, the actual Airmaster flown in the 1940s by its designer, Cessna president Dwane Wallace. The Combat Air Museum in Topeka has a wide variety of military aircraft and memorabilia flown in every war from World War I to Desert Storm, and includes the earliest example of a bi-plane used for training between 1916 and 1917. Kansas is also home to the nation’s first patented helicopter. An automated replica of the 1909 original is at the High Plains Museum in Goodland. Between the 1900s-1960s, 50 companies produced aircraft in Kansas.

The Kansas Museum of History in Topeka displays the original plane built and flown by Albin K. Longren, an aviation builder in the early 1900s. Longren first flew his Topeka I biplane on September 2, 1911, making it the first Kansas-made plane to successfully fly. After that he traveled around the state demonstrating the aircraft. His Topeka aviation company manufactured and sold aircraft until 1926. The fifth biplane he built is on display at the Kansas Museum of History. His papers relating to the early aircraft industry are among the collections at the Center for Historical Research in Topeka.

In Wichita alone, there were 30 different aircraft companies. Names like Raytheon, Cessna, Boeing, and Bombardier Learjet are still manufactured in the community. The Kansas Aviation Museum in Wichita has an entire collection dedicated to Kansas’ contributions to flight.

At the Augusta Air Museum you’ll see aviation on both the grand and miniature scale. Over 200 model airplanes accompany the museum’s collection of full-size flight machines. A Penguin training airplane from the 1920s to