October 6, 2010
The latest round of aviation changes has left Wichita's economic future in limbo. Some local leaders are looking to solve that with an aviation innovation.
With recent layoffs, lost jobs and the chances of a company like Hawker Beechcraft heading South, some say a different kind of development would be the best way to keep Wichita the Air Capital.
Taking off on a runway just outside your back door is reality today.
If James Wiebe has any say, the innovation of smaller, easy-to-fly aircraft, could be the key to Wichita's future.
"We're always looking at finding ways to produce more innovative flight to provide people things they want. They want to be able to fly inexpensively and safely, and they really want to be able to enjoy it," said Wiebe, owner of belite Aircraft.
Innovative flight could take individuals and local businesses to the skies.
"What these companies have done is proven that there's a marketable, desirable concepts that people want to buy. We've been concentrating on what we already have and not paying attention to what we could have in addition to it," said Wiebe.
For the past year, belite Aircraft has been thinking about the future, creating one-seat planes for ultra-light flight, giving nearly anyone the handling and control of a real airplane.
Wiebe said the business is taking off, and could be expanded in Wichita.
"There is more brain talent in Wichita when it comes to aerospace engineering in Wichita, than about any other place on the planet. These things should be happening here, and a lot of the innovation has not been happening here. It's been happening in other parts of the country, and in other parts of the world," said Wiebe.
With the right product, Wichita could be in charge of the future of flight.