This is the 8th in a series of aircraft designed, built and flown by more than 25 aircraft companies that called Wichita, the Air Capital of the World, “home.” Some of these early aircraft companies are world famous today, while most are nearly all but forgotten. However, their history should be recorded and aviation aficionados will find great pleasure in seeing these aircraft. Thanks to the photographic artistry of pioneer aviation photographer, Edgar B. Smith (1896-1966) and other pioneer aviation photographers, excellent photographs exist today of most of these early day aircraft.
Appearing in many of the photographs is the Wichita Municipal Airport Administration Building, the site for the future and now current Kansas Aviation Museum. This grand old structure was erected in 1930-1931 and completed in 1935. It was dedicated March 31, 1935. Over the north entrance is a molded-stone color mural of Charles Lindberg’s “Spirit of St. Louis.” The mural is from an original painting by L.W. Clapp of Wichita. In 1940 a control tower was built on the east end and in accordance with the original plans, the east and west wings were added in 1942-1943.
The photos in this series were printed from Edgar B. Smith’s original 8X10-inch negatives. Additional photographs are from Stearman/Boeing files and the Walter D. House collection. All photographs are furnished by and are at the courtesy of the Kansas Aviation Museum.
Air travel and air mail 1929 style. A Stearman LT-1 “Light Transport” loading mail and passengers at the Municipal Airport Terminal/Hanger.
Wadlow Brothers Flying Service at the East Central Airport in 1930 with their three Travel Air airplanes, a model 2000, an S 6000 B and a B 4000.
One of two Boeing XL-15 “Scout” liaison airplanes delivered in 1948. In the background is the Cessna factory on east Pawnee which is just north of the old Wichita Municipal Airport.
An experimental Lambert “Twin Monocoach” at Wichita Municipal Airport in 1936. The photo of the visitor from Robertson, Missouri was taken by a Stearman photographer.
The Wichita Municipal Airport is framed under the wing of the Boeing XAT-15 in this 1942 photo. Note the three PT-17 Trainers on the left, two of which are in the markings of the Air Force of China.
Shown here in 1931 is the Wichita Airway Sales and Service Company hanger located on the east side of the Municipal Airport near the present Base Operations building at McConnell Air Force Base. The airplanes left to right are a Kansas City, Kansas built American Eagle with a Wichita built Knoll KN-1 and three Swallow model TP Trainers.
With the United Aircraft and Transport Corporation’s 1931 consolidation of Northrop with Stearman in Wichita, some Northrop “Beta” and “Alpha” models were completed and delivered by Stearman. This February 1932 photo of a “Beta” 3D was taken in front of the Stearman hanger with the Municipal Airport hanger in the background.
Shown here on March 1, 1930 at the Wichita Municipal Airport Hanger/Terminal is a Watkins “Skylark,” manufactured at 2300 E. Douglas in Wichita, with a visiting Lockheed “Sirius.” The Sirius was on its delivery flight to the Shell Oil Company in New York City.
A Stearman PT-13A “Kaydet” prior to delivery to the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1937. By late 1943 more than 8,400 “Kaydets” in various models had been delivered.
This Hilton “Super Mid-wing” along with the manufacturing rights were purchased by the Yellow Air Cab Company in January 1930. Yellow Air Cab occupied the ex-Knoll factory at Webb Road and Kellogg but no additional Super Mid-wings were built.
A Stearman Model 76D1 Advanced Trainer/Armed Reconnaissance aircraft prior to delivery to the Philippine Army Air Corps in 1937. In the background can be seen the former Stearman Sales and Service hanger just east of the Municipal Airport Terminal.
Wichita Municipal Airport Hanger/Terminal with a Stinson Model SM-6000-B operated by the Transamerican Airlines Corporation of Cleveland, Ohio in 1931.
TWA Ford Tri-Motors in a typical early 1930s’ scene at the Wichita Municipal Airport, the present site of McConnell Air Force Base.
A 1935 interior view of the beautiful Wichita Municipal Airport Terminal and Administration building, the future and now current site for the Kansas Aviation Museum. Plans are in progress to restore the structure as close to original as possible.