Wichita Aero Club
January 9, 2018

Aviation from the Outside in the Air Capital

I will never forget the first time I turned the runway lights all the way up.

I sat in my tall chair up in the ATC tower and cranked those puppies to the max. I felt my eyes grow wide as the lights suddenly transformed from dim dots along a stretch of concrete into truly radiant signals against a black sky. That vibrant runway was beckoning to something far above. “Come on in. We’re ready for you.” I imagined a pilot coming in for landing, spotting my lights from miles away and feeling at ease because he knew exactly where to go. There was something magical about that – me being on the ground and the pilot being all the way up there. At the wee age of 9, I knew there was something special about aviation.

My dad had the coolest job in the whole world.

He was an air traffic controller at what was previously Mid-Continent Airport. My sister and I would fight over whose turn it was to go with him on a mid-shift. I was older, so I won that fight more often than she did. I had very important responsibilities on my shifts. You know, like clicking the clicker all the way up to 9999 while pretending to count how many planes flew in and out that night. Or writing ridiculously important notes on thin, flimsy strips of paper and sending them down the vacuum air tube into what I assumed was a super secret office where my intelligence would be translated and then immediately acted upon. I had my own headset; I listened intently to my dad talk to the pilots (very, very, very quickly) in a language I was convinced was not English.

September 11, 2001 changed all that of course, but my memories had already been set in stone.

Back then, to me, aviation (in its entirety) was ATC. And so aviation was absolutely fantastic. Walking up the narrow stairs to the tower to see my dad made me the most important girl in the world. And every time he took us into the TRACON and let us stand behind the controllers hard at work (after our eyes adjusted, that is), I was in complete awe of how everything worked together like fine-tuned gears to get airplanes up in the air and back down again without allowing a colossal disaster to take place.

As time would have it, though, I grew up and learned just how much more there was to aviation. Surprisingly, I don’t work directly in the industry. But everything about it still has that same magic. Selfishly, I wish my dad hadn’t retired so he could give my kids the inside scoop I was lucky enough to experience. And each time we’re in an airport, I point out all the things that I have so much appreciation for because of those experiences. Like how each tower looks a little different. Or how the ground crew uses signals to talk to the pilot. How every time we get off the plane a maintenance crew checks out all the parts (many of which were probably made right where we live!) to make sure it’s safe for the next group of people to fly. How certain airplanes are made for certain things (passengers vs packages). Or that I’m still not actually sure how our luggage ever successfully gets where it’s supposed to go.

Can I be honest with you?

I don’t have my pilot’s license, but as a grown woman I still stick my head out the window to watch a plane when it flies directly overhead. Proof of that eyes-turned-skyward spirit of aviation, I guess…

I gawk at a plane landing sideways on a windy day.

I make my husband pull the car over on a road trip to watch the T-birds practice in nearby airspace. Funny, though, I always seem to get something in my eye when they float in that flawless formation…

Number 4 on my bucket list is to attend NBAA.

When I was little I got a unique glimpse of the industry from the inside, and grew up in the Air Capital an aviation outsider. Maybe I missed a calling. Or maybe I was always supposed to admire instead of contribute. There’s a little bit of aviation in my blood, though, that much I’m sure of.

I genuinely hope it’s the same for everyone who grows up here, and that we find a way to pass it on, even from the outside.

Written by Kristin Wemmer 

Wichita Aero Club
October 11, 2017

Lynn Nichols and Yingling Aviation Will Receive Eighth Wichita Aero Club Trophy

The eighth annual Wichita Aero Club Trophy will be presented to a Chief Executive Officer who led the revival of a virtually dormant business to impressive levels of success—even during an industry-wide recession—and to his team of employees at Yingling Aviation, which currently holds a well-deserved reputation as one of the nation’s leading fixed base operations, maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities and parts suppliers.


“Yingling is definitely a familiar name to Cessna owners all over the world and, of course, in more recent days to Beechcraft and other aircraft operators,” noted Dave Franson, Wichita Aero Club President. “They were actually the first Cessna dealers and celebrated their 70th anniversary in 2016 and they’re still the largest Cessna parts supplier in the world. But all of that history might have been lost if Lynn Nichols hadn’t rescued what had become a floundering enterprise by 1999. He brought his exceptional energy, business acumen, a sense of direction and proven principles that had an obvious, positive impact and have allowed Yingling to grow and develop new opportunities even during  a difficult period for general and business aviation.”

The citation which accompanied Mr. Nichols’ and Yingling’s nomination reads:

For providing exceptional services, exemplary business practices, job-generating initiatives and creative alternatives that advance both the industry and the community, Lynn Nichols and Yingling Aviation have achieved notable success during a difficult business cycle for general and business aviation and are deserving of the Wichita Aero Club Trophy.

The nomination stated that Nichols literally “rescued” Yingling from imminent closure and has brought it to the point that it is now one of the industry’s leading FBOs, maintenance and service facilities, and the “go-to” destination for a broad range of products and services, ranging from interior modifications, to aircraft overhauls, to propeller services to AOG parts.

It went on to note that “Yingling continues to add solutions to the industry’s major challenges, developing new maintenance procedures and programs that extend the lives of legacy aircraft to introducing affordable remanufactured airplanes that make it possible for flight schools flying clubs and individuals to pursue additional training and a new generation of student pilots. Yingling gained unparalleled experience maintaining Cessna’s line of propeller-driven aircraft, which ranged from the early two-place Model 120s and 140s all the way to the turboprop Caravans and Conquests during its seven decades as one of the world’s leading service facilities for the entire line of Cessna products. In 2015, it also became an authorized service center for Beechcraft propeller driven airplanes. The addition of the Bonanza and Baron products came as no surprise, since Yingling has, throughout its history, been involved in a continual expansion of its services and has grown its capacity and capabilities in engine, airframe, avionics, propeller and parts support to compliment the strong background and reputation it developed as leaders in interior modifications. The company previously grew that enterprise to include other than Cessna products, so the Textron Aviation acquisition was a logical opportunity to extend their industry leading maintenance and service capabilities to cover Beechcraft’s line of piston propeller driven aircraft, as well.”

Yingling is an FAA and EASA Approved Part 145 repair station. It is a factory authorized  service provider for Avidyne, Bendix/King, Chelton, Garmin, Honeywell, L3, NAT, PS Engineering, Rockwell Collins, Sandel and Genesys Aerosystems avionics and operates McCauley, MT Propeller and Sensenich factory authorized prop shops. The facility, located on Wichita’s Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport, also offers one of the country’s most popular pilot shops, the Aviator’s Attic, a source for just about everything a pilot needs, including aviation-related gifts, training manuals, books, handheld avionics, and apparel and is home to a Subway Cafe, too.

Lynn Nichols continues to grow Yingling’s business while also serving the community. He is a past chairman of the Wichita Chamber of Commerce and serves on the boards of several local business and charities, including DOC’s FRIENDS, the group involved with the restoration, return to flight and finding a permanent hangar and home for the Wichita-built B-29.

“Lynn’s long-time service and commitment to the community of Wichita, his leadership in the aviation industry, and his noteworthy and ongoing success make him a highly deserving candidate for the Wichita Aero Club trophy,”  stated Jeff Peier, Chairman of the Wichita Aero Club Board. The Trophy will be awarded to Mr. Nichols in January, 2018. Details of the event will be announced in the near future.

Previous winners of the Wichita Aero Club Trophy are:

  • Velma Wallace 2011
  • Jeff Turner, Spirit AeroSystems 2012
  • John O’Leary, Airbus Americas 2013
  • Russell W. Meyer, Jr. 2014
  • Al Higdon, 2015
  • DOC’s Friends Volunteers, 2016
  • Paul Bowen, 2017

Established in 2008 to foster and promote interest in aviation and provide a forum focused on the industry’s issues and achievements, the Wichita Aero Club brings those with a passion for flight together in an environment that expands and enhances professional relationships and furthers cooperation and understanding.

The WAC Trophy is awarded annually to a living person, group or existing organization with a strong relationship to the greater Wichita area who have distinguished themselves in the field of aviation or aerospace within the most recent calendar year or during a cumulative career of significant achievement and contribution.

Wichita Aero Club
October 9, 2017

September WAC Breakfast Reminds It’s Hip to be a Square (or Circle, or Triangle…)



by Nate Franson  


Held at the Hereford House in Andover, KS, the breakfast was sponsored by and was the opening session of their annual day-long employee retreat. Attending at the invitation of the Aero Club, members of the Cessna 190/195 Owners Association who had flown more than 40 of the vintage Cessna single engine airplanes to nearby Stearman Field for their annual Fly-In, joined Aero Club members and GlobalParts employees for a breakfast buffet, meet-and-greet, and a brief update and welcome message by Aero Club President Dave Franson before being treated to Connie Podesta’s monologue on the importance of  recognizing and effectively leveraging differences in personality and preference when it comes to successfully getting along.

After teasing a 300-slide PowerPoint marathon, Podesta pivoted into her actual presentation, wherein she encouraged attendees to draw four shapes in the air – square, circle, triangle, and “squiggle” – before choosing the one with which they most identify. She then prompted each “shape-group” to stand and be recognized in turn, while offering humorous insight into basic personality traits that each group typically exhibits.

It’s impossible to do justice to Ms. Podesta’s witty repartee during this very active, audience participation segment of her engaging, hour-long opening segment but she basically stated that:  Squares tended to be “square”,  rigid, organized and straightforward. Triangles were likewise typically straightforward, driven and tending toward perfectionism. Circles were the gregarious pleasers, talkative types, while squiggles were the more wild, creative and authority-bucking mavericks. Or, at least, that’s the way Connie described them—and as it turned out, she seemed to possess an uncanny seventh sense that made it tough to argue with her!

The main thrust of such an exercise was to open up dialogue about how different personalities relate to one another and to inspire more effective collaboration between potentially disparate points of view. While such a presentation may eschew the familiar industry-focused discussion of most Aero Club speakers, it served as a welcome and important reminder that regardless of our roles and responsibilities in the aviation community, as professionals we must always seek to understand and overcome our potential differences with colleagues, collaborators, and clients. Fortunately, Podesta was able to do this all in humorous fashion and made for a highly entertaining event. (As an aside,  I couldn’t help but think how her well-supported characterizations of the various types would make for an extremely interesting Cockpit Resource Management session at the next Safety Standdown…especially when you add in her dry humorous descriptions.)

The vintage Cessna 190/195 flyers and their families and friends who made the trip to Wichita for the weekend helped balloon the crowd for the Aero Club/ Employee Retreat Breakfast to nearly 180 people. While the GlobalParts team stayed around for more of Connie Podesta’s wise  counsel, the Fly-in visitors and some of their Aero Club hosts returned to Stearman Field in Benton where the array of 60+ year old shiny Cessna single engine airplanes lined the runway for nearly half of its length. The full cantilever wing, conventional gear, radial engine aircraft were built in Wichita by Cessna from 1947 until 1954 and served as “Businessliners” and in the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army and the Army National Guard.  Several of the visitors sported military paint schemes and designations. (See pix).

The November Aero Club luncheon is currently being finalized, with details to be announced at a later date. The next scheduled event is the annual On-Air Summit, December 12, at 11:30 AM.




Wichita Aero Club
September 19, 2017

Which Way For GA?

By: Nate Franson

The general aviation market is experiencing a bit of a labor crisis. Fewer and fewer new pilots are being trained, and part of the reason for the decrease in student starts is the lack of options when it comes to places, aircraft, and instructors with whom to learn to fly. Fewer airports and FBOs offer two- or four-place pistons for rental, and many no longer have any flight instructors on staff. Those that do typically have 1970s-era aircraft like the venerable Cessna 172 – a fine aircraft, of course, but usually equipped with avionics that came out about the same time as the Atari 2600.

Further complicating the issue is the cost of instruction – an hour of flight time can start around $150, and that’s not even taking into account materials and ground school. The newer aircraft on which prospective pilots typically would like to be trained – like Textron’s updated Model 172 Skyhawk with full glass panels and ADS-B — are currently retailing near half a million dollars. That’s quite the jumping-on point, financially, especially in a depressed flight instruction market.

A final wrinkle in the situation is the dwindling accessibility of 100 LL fuel, a specter that has been looming on the GA horizon for some years now. Almost all training aircraft run on it, so if it disappears completely, chaos would likely ensue as flight schools sought to modify or replace their fleets.

All of these factors conspire to lead us to a point in the not-too-distant future where the population of pilots is not only shrinking, but also aging and flying with far less frequency, just like the planes used to train them. The instruction market is saturated with aircraft over 30 years old, typically toting avionics from the same era that won’t meet looming Next-Gen ATC system requirements , and the newer, updated models of appropriate aircraft from tried-and-true manufacturers cost more than a house.

Fortunately, there are a lot of those older airplanes out there. They were built to last – basically forever, as long as they were maintained according to company guidelines and government mandates. While maintenance costs money, and updates cost more, the good news they don’t cost more than a house. With a little collaborative ingenuity, this fleet could be used to spur a revival not only in instruction, but also the recreational segment of the small plane market.

The AOPA is touting plans for such collaboration between owners and operators of these aircraft, forming flying clubs and co-owning planes to encourage both newcomers and lapsed operators  turned off by the increasing expense and time investment needed. The EAA has spearheaded a push to get the FAA to grant “driver’s license medicals” which allow those certified beyond Sport Pilot to fly GA aircraft with clearly defined limitations without the need for an FAA medical. Other GA organizations are supportive, but will need to come together in pursuit of the common goal of reinvigorating general aviation and encouraging new students.

The current trend in GA is leading us inexorably towards a future without enough pilots to service the demands of the industry. As technology advances, the need or desire to fly could be eclipsed by more cost-effective or otherwise appealing means. In the interest of reviving a great pastime and revitalizing a downtrodden market—or even spurring some innovative new usage, those of us in the aviation community will need to work together to carry small aircraft flying into the next era.


Wichita Aero Club
August 13, 2017

An Amazing Lineup in August and September!

The next season of WAC events is a great one, and we hope you’ll join us for each and every gathering!

Past that, we’re already gearing up for NBAA, our annual ON-AIR Summit, and the WAC Trophy Gala. (Speaking of, have you submitted your nomination for the Trophy Recipient this year? Submissions are due Sept. 22, and you can do it all online here.)

Alright, that’s a wrap for now. If you have any questions about what’s ahead, please let us know! Shoot an email to, and we’ll reach back out as soon as we’re able.

Wichita Aero Club
May 10, 2017

Thanks For Joining Us! A Quick Look Ahead.

We want to say a special thanks to everyone who was able to join us recently as we celebrated the newly inaugurated daily flight service between Wichita and Seattle with the Chamber and Alaska Airlines.

We know space for the event was limited, but that makes it even more special if you were able to get a seat. We’ll be posting pictures soon if we haven’t already, so look out for those! 

We’re already nearly halfway through the year, can you believe that? We’ve been thinking a lot about the second half of 2017 and we’re working hard to secure a luncheon speaker lineup you’ll be super excited about. We put a lot of thought and effort into making these luncheons worth your time and money; we want them to be an opportunity to learn something, network with other aviation professionals, and gain important insight into the industry Wichita holds nearest and dearest to its heart. 

WAC Golf Classic 2016

All smiles!

But the next big event we’re preparing for isn’t a luncheon. Far from it. It’s not indoors, it doesn’t revolve around food (unless you count the margarita stands on the 7th and 17th holes…or the post tourney 19th hole reception in the Hospitality Chalet adjacent to the 18th Green) and there’s no featured speaker. But it will involve getting together with friends, family and co-workers to play a well-loved sport for a well-loved cause. It’s the Eighth Annual Wichita Aero Club Golf Classic! We invite you to check out all the details of the June 11th tournament at Crestview Country Club in the brochure here

Yes, you read that right. Our tournament is at Crestview! It’s a fantastic opportunity to play on the same course the pros will play on the very next weekend at the Air Capital Classic. 

WAC Golf Classic 2016


It’s one of only two major fundraisers we have each year, so we get really amped up for it. Here’s why. First, we always love to give out our scholarship awards, which we get to do this time of year. Second, this tournament generates funds for our next scholarships! Our scholarships are our pride and joy because we get to propel the next generation of aviation leaders forward by helping support them through their education. It’s an honor, and something we really, really, really love to do. Not to mention, the recipients really, really, really deserve it. 

So if you appreciate what WAC has done for you in the past, or the connections it might make for you in the future, please join us on June 11th to continue supporting our Aero Club. Grab your dad, son, neighbor, wife, daughter, co-worker, form a team and sign up to have a fantastic day in the sun. Plus, if you get a hole-in-one, you win a Cadillac. Seriously. 

Learn more about the tournament over here! 

Wichita Aero Club
March 14, 2017

Hey Wichita: Let’s Support Doc!

Everybody loves a comeback kid, right? Except in this case it’s no kid. It’s a B-29 Superfortress bomber named Doc. This monstrosity of a machine has captured hearts everywhere, and why wouldn’t it? This isn’t just a chunk of metal that played a role in our nation’s history. Doc is our history.

Doc was born right here in Wichita during World War II. After actively serving in the US Army for more than ten years, Doc was unceremoniously left in the desert to be used as target practice. Then one glorious day, Tony Mazzolini found Doc and decided right then and there he would restore him to flying status once again. Twelve years later, Mazzolini and his team took possession of Doc and the it was time for restoration. When Wichita welcomed Doc home in 2000, he was in about as many pieces. The team, made up of faithful volunteers, dutifully and carefully began reconstructing the historic warbird. Then in 2013 a group of people signed their names on the dotted line and officially became Doc’s Friends, a 501c3 non-profit created to manage Doc’s restoration and make sure the project was seen through to the end.

Fast forward a few years. Keep reading >

Wichita Aero Club
February 2, 2017

Picture Perfect: A Career in the Clouds

People in business aviation are so lucky. Not only do they get to manufacture, market, sell and fly amazing aircraft; they get to work with some of the best people on the planet.

The Wichita Aero Club gala is always a special evening for the Air Capital of the World. We come together to celebrate a member of our community who’s truly left a mark on the aviation industry. I was beaming with pride last Saturday evening as my dad, world-renowned aviation photographer, Paul Bowen, received the honor.

Paul Bowen

Paul Bowen, 2016 WAC Trophy Recipient

Since 1972, he has been producing the world’s most creative, memorable and enduring air-to-air images. His long list of accolades includes the San Diego Air & Space Museum International Hall of Fame, Flying Magazine’s 51 Heroes of Aviation, Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame, and Canon’s Explorers of Light. He has been part of more than 1,000 magazine covers and ad campaigns.

Naturally, it’s wonderful to see your dad singled out for recognition. As he gave the narrative of his career using his images, he started off by saying:

“When I go to a concert, my favorite part is when the artist tells stories so you leave knowing them and their music better. So that’s what I’m going to do tonight.” Keep reading >

Wichita Aero Club
January 8, 2017

Look Ahead More Than Back.

Special thanks to Ashley Bowen Cook for the contribution via Blue Sky Aviation News!

When charting your course, consider where you’ve been. But don’t dwell on those experiences.

Bogging yourself down in what was hinders thoughts of what can be. Position yourself carefully and purposefully with knowledge of the past and a vision of where you want to go.

Think of Janus – ancient Roman god of beginnings, transitions, and endings – depicted with two heads, one viewing the future, and one peering into the past. Learn from his balanced approach. He does not appear confused, but centered by insight.

It can be the same with your marketing. A successful strategy considers both past experiences and future hopes. And then, launches with confidence. SmartSky Networks began a journey of a lifetime in 2009.

It brought together a team of industry-leading telecommunications and aviation professionals to launch an inflight connectivity revolution. They built on past successes but stayed open to new ways to overcome entrenched competition. This future-forward focus puts them on track to for a 2017 nationwide network roll out.

You are here

Take stock of the current situation and ask the relevant questions about how you arrived at this juncture. Who was the intended audience? What was the message? Did you make the hoped for connection? Answer with unflinching honesty and don’t gloss over failures. Apply lessons learned along your long and winding road to correct or to confirm your direction.

Executive AirShare got its start in 2000, growing out of a highly reputable fixed-base operation in Wichita, Kansas. Now the nation’s third-largest fractional aircraft provider, AirShare doesn’t limit itself to the nation’s heartland. From its operational centers throughout the Central United States and Great Lakes regions, customers fly all over the United States and into the Caribbean, Mexico, Latin America and Canada. It’s grown by developing a do-it-right, get-it-done culture that puts shareowners first.

Get packing

Prepare for the road ahead. Figure out what kind of creative will be deployed. Consider what worked before. What life can be infused into the strategy. Plot a strategy for leveraging social media and other integrated marketing platforms. Employ a thorough, critical review. Stay on track. Keep the list concise and focused. The way forward will be clear.

Aviation Partners stands apart as a leader in advanced winglet technology. Founder, CEO and aviation legend Joe Clark continually seeks efficiencies to keep aviation on the cutting edge of green technology. That effort extends to Aviation Partners’ outreach, appropriately targeted to its tech-savvy and highly mobile target audience.

A pocket full of sunshine

Rainy days come. Draw from previous wins to maintain motivation and stoke energy for you and your team. Recall the greatest risk that reaped a monumental reward. Let these experiences spur you on and keep the project moving forward. They can keep you from stalling out or worse – kicking into reverse.

Perhaps nothing underscores the value of perseverance more than Glacier Girl, the jewel in Rod Lewis’ impressive Air Legends warbird collectioin. In July 1942, this aircraft (and seven other warbirds), low on fuel, crash-landed on Greenland’s vast ice cap. In 1992, Glacier Girl was taken from its wheels-up position, removed section by painstaking section through shafts carved 25 stories (268 feet) into the ice. The sole rescued survivor of the entire squadron. Since returning to the air in 2002 before a crowd of 20,000, this P-38F Lightning has thrilled thousands more at air shows and events.

Lessons learned

Draw upon the insights of others. Collectively, your teammates know more than you. Collaborate and aha moments will come. Take the time needed to share knowledge so you learn from and don’t repeat mistakes.

Look back at your best work, but don’t live on past glory. Face forward and you may find your best work before you.

Wichita Aero Club
December 6, 2016

The Perfect Gift for the Aviation Lover.

A WAC Membership is the Perfect Stocking Stuffer!

Gift giving can be super tough. What to get the person who has everything? Every toy, every gadget, every… everything. We have an idea that might get you bonus points this holiday season.

What if, instead of loading them with stuff, you indulged their passion? Whether they’ve shown a little bit of interest in aviation, or have deep rooted affection for it, a membership to the Wichita Aero Club is the perfect gift. Your aviation aficionado can make as much of it as they want. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits, of which there are many:

Gold Wing Member Status 

Thanks to an amazing partnership with local businesses called the Gold Wing club, we’re able to offer some really great local discounts on things like hotels, fine restaurants, Tornado Transit and even a local shooting range and training facility, Thunderbird Firearms Academy. Catch up on all the juicy details here, but this alone makes a WAC membership incredibly enticing! Who doesn’t like a little extra status around town?

Networking Opportunities

Whether aviation is a pastime or ambition, the Wichita Aero Club events present ample opportunity to network with others in the industry. Learn from those who have been around for years. Those who have risen to the top. Those who are well on their way. Hear their stories, shake their hands, store their business cards in your wallet. Find out where you fit by taking a seat next to someone who can help you find the most exciting, thrilling and comfortable chair around.

Likeminded People

Consider our mission statement: The Wichita Aero Club was established to foster and promote interest in aviation, to provide a forum that focuses on the industry’s issues and achievements, and to bring together those with a passion for flight in an environment that expands and enhances professional relationships and furthers cooperation and understanding. Everything the Club does has these goals and values in mind. To say the people involved are passionate about aviation might be an understatement… it’s more like they eat, breathe and dream about it in one way or another. If you or someone you know might thrive in an aviation-enriched environment, a Wichita Aero Club membership is the absolute perfect place to start.

What’s the Next Step? 

So, have you thought of someone who fits the bill for a membership? That young family member who mentioned he’d love to study aviation? Your secret santa co-worker who has a model Cessna 182 on their desk? Or maybe you want to convince your boss to get your company more involved in the community. That’s fantastic! Now you’re wondering how much it costs, and what the next step is. We’re glad you asked.

There are lots of different levels of membership, and you can get details on all of them over on the signup page, but a corporate membership is $1,000 annually, and an individual membership is only $100 annually. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s that affordable!

The sign up process is really simple, too. You can pay right online, and we’ll send you the material you can gift. Ready?

Go here to make someone smile this Christmas.

We’re happy to answer any questions you have along the way. Just shoot a note to


Renew your WAC membership today! Watch past luncheons here



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