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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Kansas Aviation Museum cleaning up from storm

By Beccy Tanner
The Wichita Eagle

The Kansas Aviation Museum may have suffered a tough blow during this weekend’s storm, but it won’t put it down for long, said Lon Smith, the museum’s director.

“It could have been much, much worse,” Smith said Monday in the midst of debris cleanup. “The building itself was not damaged badly.”

Smith estimated the museum property received between $100,000 to $150,000 in damage. The museum, 3350 S. George Washington Blvd., will be closed this week while it cleans up.

The copper roof on the control tower flew off in the storm and will have to be replaced. As the roof fell, it gouged the membrane on the museum building.

Four of the museum’s 20 planes on exhibit also suffered damage. One plane, a Cessna 02B from the Vietnam era, is a complete loss. Despite being tied down with cables, some planes were blown on top of each other when the cables snapped.

Air-conditioning units were tossed about and the fence line was damaged. The roof from a nearby Kansas Air National Guard building sent debris over the museum’s grounds.

“We dodged a bullet,” Smith said. “If you look over at the Spirit, Boeing and the Kansas Air National Guard, our building could have been so quickly made into rubble. We had one broken pane of glass on the building.”

The Kansas Aviation Museum opened in April 1991 to showcase Kansas aviation history. It is housed in the former Wichita Municipal Airport, best known for its art-deco architecture and considered one of the signature buildings in Wichita. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Reach Beccy Tanner at (316) 268-6336 or btanner@wichitaeagle.com

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