First Kansas Aviation Expo to showcase industry in the air capital

06/27/2013 12:00 AM

08/08/2014 10:17 AM

The first Kansas Aviation Expo will be held in Wichita in September as a way to highlight the state’s aviation industry.

Organizers are starting small but hope the event grows into a bigger annual gathering.

“Other states have conventions and trade show events that highlight aviation in their state,” said Jesse Romo, acting director for the Kansas Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation. “We haven’t had one in Kansas.”

Aviation is a big economic driver for the state, Romo said.

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.

It begins on Sept. 26 with a reception hosted by the Kansas Association of Airports followed by sessions on Sept. 27. The Expo leads up to the Wichita Flight Festival at Jabara Airport on Sept. 28 and 29.

The aviation expo is sponsored by KDOT and the Kansas Commission on Aerospace Education.

This year’s event will highlight what the state’s aviation office role is in Kansas and will focus on the issues and challenges affecting the state’s airports and pilots, Romo said.

Sessions will include discussions on airports, aviation fuel taxes, diversity, air traffic control, weather, wildlife, insurance, unmanned vehicles, the decline in pilots, flight clubs and other issues.

Wichita aviation photographer Paul Bowen will be the luncheon speaker. Sessions 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.

Organizers expect about 200 attendees. The expo also has about 10 booth spaces available for aviation-related exhibitors. The event is being financed through sponsorships and registration fees and is a volunteer effort.

“We’re doing all of this with a zero budget,” Romo said.

Although Wichita is one of only five aerospace clusters in the world, the state doesn’t have a single event where industry leaders gather, said Brian Youngers, president of the Kansas Commission on Aerospace Education.

“Our plan is this is just the beginning,” Youngers said. “Our hope is it will grow.”

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