Tornado Damages Kansas Aviation Museum

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

As a tornado ripped across southeast Wichita Saturday night, causing heavy damage at the Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems plants, it also caused significant damage at the Kansas Aviation Museum.

Several planes outside the museum, which sits near 31st Street South and George Washington Boulevard at the site of the original Wichita Municipal Airport, were damaged.

At least one of those planes, a Cessna O-2B was blown onto its top. Other planes were moved in place, according to the museum's executive director, Lon Smith. A KC 135 tanker on display at the museum was rotated nearly 180 degrees, Smith said.

"I think all-in-all we're actually lucky," he said. "It weather vaned a lot of the planes. They didn't collide too badly. I don't think there's a lot of major, major damage to the planes."

The heaviest damage to the museum building appeared to be the roof being lifted off of the old terminal building's tower. Smith estimates the damage in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, but it will take daylight to get the full picture.

"We'll come out tomorrow (Sunday), we'll make an assessment and take a lot of pictures and talk with the insurance company," Smith said.

Looking back toward the damaged pieces of Wichita history, Smith said the storm provided a perfect example of why the museum needs the support of the community and the state.

"This is all the more reason why, as a community, we need to come together and figure out how to make this a world class aviation museum," he said. "So we have an indoor space for these planes. We have just got to make that happen and this is perfect evidence right here."

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