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90th anniversary of Wichita's first production aircraft

The Kansas Aviation Museum is celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Laird Swallow with an open house this afternoon.

The Laird Swallow was Wichita’s first production aircraft. On April 8, 1920, the company tested the airplane for the first time. Local hotelier William Lassen attended the flight, looked up at the aircraft and said, “It flies like a Swallow.” With that, entrepreneur Matty Laird, who designed the airplane, changed its name from the Air Tractor to the Laird Swallow.

Only 43 were ever built. None of the airplanes are known to exist. But volunteers have spent the last 18 years building a replication of the airplane. They had a few parts and used photographs to create working drawings for the project. The plane is now completed.

The open house will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 8 at the Kansas Aviation Museum. A dedication ceremony begins at 5:30. It is free and open to the public.

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