A consortium of business, government and educational organizations in the greater Wichita area are joining together to form the Wichita Aero Club. Patterned after the Aero Clubs of Washington and Atlanta and The Wings Club in New York, the new group plans to host monthly luncheons and invite high profile speakers to address major aviation industry issues. It will also have a website, publish an online newsletter, and host fund-raising events throughout the year.
An ad-hoc WAC Board of Directors has been conducting exploratory and organizational meetings since April. Additional details on the leadership and activities of the Wichita Aero Club will be announced at a press conference scheduled for Monday, October 6 at 11 AM in Room N220B of the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida during the upcoming National Business Aviation Association Annual Meeting & Convention.
“Aviation is the driving force in the greater Wichita area. There have been more airplanes produced in Wichita than anywhere else in the world, so the city has a rightful claim to the title of Air Capital of the World,” said Bob Stangarone, vice president of corporate communications for Cessna Aircraft Company and chairman of the ad-hoc committee which initiated the formation of the organization. “It is appropriate that this community have a world-class platform for discussion of key industry issues, the recognition of achievements and innovations in aerospace, and a forum that encourages interaction and cooperation,” he said.
“With six major airframe manufacturers operating here, a plethora of suppliers, and more than 40,000 people employed in aviation-related businesses locally, Wichita attracts numerous industry and government leaders on a regular basis. The Club will take advantage of that and will invite those prominent individuals to address its monthly luncheons,” he added.
The club may, in fact, be a revival of the Wichita Aero Club. An organization bearing the same name was actually chartered in 1915, according to documents filed with the State, but it apparently faded from the scene after sponsoring a ballooning event nearly a century ago. The new Wichita Aero Club plans to operate as a non-profit organization.
The new entity will be self-sustaining. It will offer a variety of membership categories and dues structures for aviation-related companies and organizations as well as individuals, students and retirees. Individual Founding Members can join for a one-time Founder’s fee of $100 for the first year and $55 annually thereafter. Student, retiree, and government/military memberships are available for $25 per year.
The club plans to recognize prominent aviators with an annual trophy that will be presented yearly at a gala awards dinner. It will also promote aviation-related educational and career development initiatives, and will take a leading role in the preservation of the region’s aviation heritage.
Founding Members, those who have pledged $10,000 each to launch the Club, include Bombardier Learjet, Cessna Aircraft, FlightSafety International, Hawker Beechcraft, PIM Aviation Insurance, Pratt & Whitney Canada, Spirit Aerosystems and Yingling Aviation. Charter Memberships are also available for a one-time donation of $5,000. Regular corporate members will pay annual dues of $1000. The Founding and Charter Memberships will be available until Dec. 31, 2008.
For further information on the Wichita Aero Club, call Dave Franson at (316) 681-4491.