This week may be Shark Week on TV, but a week in September is shaping up to be Aviation Week in Wichita.
The week will feature the first of what organizers hope will be an annual Kansas Expo, a Wichita Aero Club luncheon and a two-day Wichita Flight Festival, which will feature national flight acts and a concert by an Eagles tribute band.
Cessna Aircraft’s CEO Scott Ernest will be the keynote speaker at a Kansas Expo Takeoff Reception on Sept. 26. It will be sponsored by the Wichita Aero Club and Cessna.
The expo, whose theme is “Where the State Capital Meets the Air Capital,” will be held at the National Center for Aviation Training, 4004 N. Webb Road, on Sept. 26 and 27.
That leads up to the Wichita Flight Festival at Jabara Airport on Sept. 28 and 29.
“For five days, from the 25th to the 29th, there will be some very interesting and informative aero events taking place,” said Dave Franson, president of the Wichita Aero Club. “It’s going to be a terrific aviation weekend.”
Organizers say the headline act for the Wichita Flight Festival will be Tora Tora Tora, a Texas-based group that re-creates the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, complete with explosions, fire and smoke. Other acts include the Indy Boys, who will bring a jet-powered Snoopy doghouse, and Kent Pietsch, who lands a plane on a platform strapped to the top of a moving pickup.
The festival also will include a Kid’s Zone, food concourse and a “Fly Market” vendor and education area.
This year’s inaugural aviation expo, sponsored by the Kansas Department of Transportation and the Kansas Commission on Aerospace Education, will highlight the state’s aviation office role in Kansas and will focus on the issues and challenges affecting the state’s airports and pilots. Organizers expect about 200 attendees.
Sessions will include discussions on airports, aviation fuel taxes, diversity, air traffic control, weather, wildlife, insurance, unmanned vehicles, the decline in pilots and flight clubs. They will be led by representatives of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Kansas State University-Salina, the Wichita Airport Authority, the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Weather Service, Aviation Workforce Development Group Exploration Place, the Kansas Aviation Museum and others.
The takeoff reception with Ernest will follow a Wichita Aero Club luncheon the day before.
Selena Shilad, director of the Alliance for Aviation Across America, will be the keynote speaker at the luncheon on Sept. 25.
The Alliance for Aviation Across America is a nonprofit group working to raise awareness about the value of general aviation and local airports, especially for rural communities.
Ernest joined Cessna in May 2011 following a 29-year career with General Electric Co.
Tickets for the reception and the Aero Club luncheon may be purchased at www.wichitaaeroclub.org/events. Reception tickets are $20. But those buying tickets for the luncheon can attend the reception for an additional $10.
For Kansas Expo information, go to www.ksaeroeducation.com, call Kristi Valles at 316-677-1606 or Jesse Romo at 785-296-2553 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost is $30 for individuals and $20 for students.
Contributing: Denise Neil of the Eagle