UPDATED — The highest point in Sedgwick County that the average Wichitan has access to is off limits for now, and it may be for some time.
A panel of glass slid down in the frame of the tower at the Kansas Aviation Museum, which prompted the city to close the 1935 tower.
“Which, of course, is an unfortunate turn of events for everyone,” says Teresa Day, interim executive director of the museum.
The tower was the air traffic control tower of the former Wichita Municipal Airport — the city’s first commercial airport.
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The ground it sits on helped make it the highest point in Sedgwick County until a new tower at McConnell Air Force Base next door surpassed it.
The museum tower is still the tallest one that nonmilitary people can visit, and Day says it’s one of the most popular features at the museum.
“We obviously are very anxious to get it fixed.”
John D’Angelo says the city is, too.
“The city will make the repairs,” says the manager of the Division of Arts & Cultural Services. “We recognize the importance of the tower, and we want to get it fixed.”
Initially, D’Angelo didn’t think the repairs would happen until as late as the second quarter of 2019. Now, though, he says they’re underway and “should be complete after the first of the year.”
The cost is estimated to be $50,000.
In what Day calls “an overabundance of safety,” the city also has closed the area below the tower in case any glass falls. That happens to be the handicap entrance, so now the handicap parking has been relocated to a temporary space in the middle of the museum’s parking lot.
“It looks awful,” Day says.
Mostly, though, she says she and museum guests just want the tower back.
“Having our tower open is really a great thing.”