It was a perfect day, according to the pilots, for taking to the skies for the 2016 Fly Kansas Air Tour. This is a three-day, nine-city celebration of Kansas aviation and one of the stops during this tour was the Great Bend municipal Airport.
“Being included in the is air tour is very exciting,” Great Bend Mayor Mike Allison said. “It is another way to get our name out there to the rest of the state and to get the word out there that with the transloading facility coming to Great Bend we hope to become a major hub for this type of transportation and being part of this air tour, it just shows what kind of facilities Great Bend has to offer.”
After landing, the pilots had some time before lunch to visit with other pilots and answer questions from the people that came out to see the airplanes up close.
“This tour was very successful, we were able to accommodate the pilots very well,” Airport Manager Martin Miller said. “We got a lot of complements and praise from the pilots and spectators about the airport and its facilities.”
During lunch the pilots watched a slide show and listed to a presentation by Kansas Department of Transportation Freight and Rail Manager John Maddox which highlighted intermodal coming soon at Great Bend.
The next stop for the pilots was Rooks County Airport and from there they headed to Dodge City for the night and continuing the tour Friday morning.
According to KDOT, this year’s tour, presented by the Kansas Commission on Aerospace Education and KDOT, will focus on raising awareness of the importance of community airports and promoting aviation to young people. More than 500 students are expected to visit their airports during the tour. Several dozen aircraft are expected to participate.
“The air tour is an opportunity to promote Kansas aviation. Kansas ranks number one in the country for per capita economic benefit from aviation,” President of the Kansas Commission on Aerospace Education Ed Young said.
This is the third consecutive year for the revived tour, which first took place in 1928. The goal of that first tour was to promote the fledgling aviation industry in Kansas.
After the next year’s tour in 1929, there was a 79-year gap before the next tour in 2008, which included 28 stops and attracted more than 10,000 people across the state during the seven-day tour. After a short hiatus, the tour took wing again in 2014.
“This is a great opportunity for us to promote one of the largest industries in Kansas and provide an avenue for students to connect with aviators,” KDOT’s Division of Aviation Director Merrill Atwater said. “With a specific focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education and aviation history, we highlight the benefits of local airports to their communities, Kansas and the nation.”
The public is encouraged to visit the local airports during the tour stops to see the airplanes up close, talk to the pilots and learn about the role of aviation in Kansas.
For more information visit 2016flykansas.eventbrite.com.