Carrie Rengers

Firm that created airport history display now ‘makes the stories come alive’ in book

UPDATED — As people rush to catch planes or head to baggage claim after a long trip, they don’t always have time to stop and study the aviation history display that Greteman Group created at Eisenhower National Airport.

“I just wanted more people to be able to experience it,” says Sonia Greteman, president and creative director.

That’s why her marketing and communications firm published “Wichita: Where Aviation Took Wing.”

Greteman says the airport display is 12 “pretty packed” panels that celebrate Wichita’s aviation heritage and look to the future of flight as well.

“It’s different when it’s in your hands and presented in a more intimate setting in a book form,” she says. “It makes the stories come alive more.”

The book, which allows some bigger spreads and fuller photos than the display, is 70 percent photos.

“They have such a cool factor,” Greteman says.

The black-and-white photos are accented with two colors inspired by a trip the design team took to Spirit AeroSystems.

The drab olive green is the same color as the primer that goes on aircraft before the final paint scheme.

And what Greteman calls an iridescent teal is the coating that’s applied to fuselages before they’re shipped by rail to Seattle for final assembly.

“It’s just a protective coating, but it’s such an amazingly distinct color.”

Some of Greteman’s favorite photos are of early barnstormers, including a couple of women who “performed these death-defying acts.”

Greteman says a dedicated group of historians and aviation professionals helped with research. Even for people who think they know Wichita’s aviation history well, she says, “I would say I bet there will be a few little side stories that will surprise them.”

She’ll be sharing some of those stories along with details about the book in a few upcoming speaking engagements, including one at 6 p.m. Monday at the Advanced Learning Library, which Watermark Books & Cafe is hosting.

In addition to being available online at and at Watermark, the $39.99 book also can be found at several area businesses, including some with an aviation focus.

Greteman says the goal of the book is to ensure everyone understands Wichita’s aviation history “and how bodacious and visionary these founding fathers were to make our city the Air Capital.”

She says it’s a title Wichita still deserves.

“We still do produce our fair share of aircraft.”

Greteman says the book is not about making money.

“We will never break even on this,” she says. “Books are a labor of love.”

She says the book “is all about promoting Wichita as the Air Capital.”

“This is about our legacy as an aviation community and instilling that spirit into the next generation.”