Aviation Museum hires space museum official as new director

The new executive director of the Kansas Aviation Museum, Daniel Bateman, stands on the museum balcony.
The new executive director of the Kansas Aviation Museum, Daniel Bateman, stands on the museum balcony. The Wichita Eagle

Daniel W. Bateman started his first official day on Thursday as the Kansas Aviation Museum’s executive director.

Bateman, 41, comes to the museum from Sheboygan, Wis., where he was executive director of Spaceport Sheboygan, a space museum.

The Colorado native said Thursday that he has been in Wichita since last week and started at the Kansas Aviation Museum then, working as a volunteer.

Bateman replaces Lon Smith, who announced his resignation in March to take a job as vice president of business development for Integrated Facilities Group.

Bateman said he’s familiar with south-central Kansas, having worked as a volunteer at the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson as a space camp counselor while attending Oklahoma Wesleyan University in Bartlesville. Bateman, who has a bachelor’s degree in history, said he is pursuing a master’s degree in public administration from American Military University.

Following graduation from OWU, he joined the Cosmosphere as an employee and worked there for about 10 years. His last position was manager of its camps programs.

He was at the Sheboygan museum for four years.

“My wife and I wanted to get back to Wichita,” Bateman said, adding that Lisa Baldwin-Bateman grew up in Wichita and has family here. She has taken a job as a flight paramedic for LifeTeam, an air ambulance service, and works part time for Sedgwick County EMS, he said.

Bateman said he’s still learning about the museum – housed in the former Wichita Municipal Airport at 3350 S. George Washington Blvd. – and several projects that are underway. That includes a $1.3 million project that involves renovation of its public restrooms to be more accessible, the addition of heating and air conditioning to parts of the facility, and the installation of an elevator.

“Mainly, it’s just going to be drinking from a big fire hose of information,” he said. “It’s an exciting challenge for me.”

Richard Moore, president of the museum’s board, said more than 100 highly qualified candidates applied for the position.

“We’re very excited about Daniel and his background and his desire to take this museum to great places,” Moore said.

“We want to work with other nonprofits, other aerospace organizations like the Wichita Aero Club, like Doc’s Friends, like Exploration Place and the Cosmosphere … and become partners,” he added. “It’s very important to this city and this state to build this and maintain this aerospace heritage in this city. Daniel absolutely recognized that need.”

Moore said Bateman has a “great business sense and that is something the museum needs, also.”

Reach Jerry Siebenmark at 316-268-6576 or jsiebenmark@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jsiebenmark.