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


Wichita Aero Club
November 30, 2016

In Case You Missed It: Doc Was On CBS’ ‘Sunday Morning’

Doc has gotten some exciting exposure recently! In case you missed it earlier this month, check out the video of Doc hitting the skies, as told by CBS’ weekend show, ‘Sunday Morning.”

Wichita Aero Club
October 31, 2016

Aerospace Outlook from the Annual Kansas Economic Outlook Conference.

The 37th Annual Kansas Economic Outlook Conference took place on October 6, 2016.

About the CEDBR.

The mission of the Center for Economic Development and Business Research (CEDBR) is to enhance the region’s economic growth and development by:collecting, analyzing and disseminating business, economic and demographic information
conducting applied business, economic and demographic research
serving as a vital link between the business and economic development community, Wichita State University and the W. Frank Barton School of Business.

The CEDBR strives to be recognized by the business and economic development community as: a reliable and responsive source for business, economic and demographic information, and as an essential partner in the region’s economic development process by conducting high-quality, objective research on issues related to the community’s current and future economic well-being.

Thanks to WSU TV for producing this video!

David Franson
October 17, 2016

Business Aviation: Situationally Aware by Ashley Bowen Cook

First at a Richard Aboulafia-led aerospace panel at Wichita State University’s annual economic outlook conference, then at the Wichita Aero Club October meeting featuring John and Martha King. Both shared insights I’ve been mulling over.

Let’s start with the aerospace panel and Aboulafia’s reassurance that his forecast would be more positive this time. He said his earlier projection when the global aviation downturn hit in 2008 “falls under the category when bad things happen to good people.” Then just to remind us how bad it was, he showed an aircraft delivery chart full of downward lines and said, “That red line at the bottom, that’s what happened to Wichita.” The difference this time around, he said, is that the strong correlation between oil prices and large aircraft has less effect on Wichita’s small and midsize markets. He practically had us dancing in the aisles when he added that the serious body blow to Wichita’s small and midsize markets is a thing of the past. The worries today, he said are more for big aircraft, such as those manufactured in Savannah.

Aboulafia’s chart for aircraft production from 2006 to 2025 shows growth. That steady, light-blue ribbon represents business aviation. Not soaring, but certainly holding its own. Steady as she goes.

Fellow panelists Jason Cox and Dave Franson acquitted themselves well, as always. Franson recounted why Wichita will remain the Air Capital – not the least of which is that we’ve manufactured more planes than anywhere on the planet – more than 300,000 since the 1920s. Cox, a third-generation aviation supplier, spoke about the fourth revolution or the internet of things having arrived “like a teenager on Instagram.” And, it’s obvious Cox welcomes the innovation these new technologies and possibilities bring.

At the Wichita Aero Club luncheon following this panel, John and Martha King provided a global picture of flight training. John started things off with a bold statement, “Flight training determines the future of aviation.” Yes, they’re apt to be biased since flight training is their business, but they also bring a perspective molded by decades of experience. “Flying made the world accessible to us and changed our view of the world forever,” said John.

After coming from a panel more focused on the manufacture of aircraft, it was good to be reminded of the importance of the human element – specifically pilots. Having enough of them to fly our fleets and training that keeps them aloft.

“Experience is a lousy teacher,” John said. “It gives the test first then teaches the lesson after . . . We need to develop a new risk-management vocabulary and system.”

As always, technology keeps things interesting. “Here come the drones, and they’re a big deal,” said Martha. In less than a year, more than 550,000 unmanned aircraft were registered. Manned aircraft number less than half that. And the drones keep getting better, with huge advances in drone see-and-avoid technology. “Boy is it coming fast,” said Martha. Both Kings encouraged the aviation community to welcome remote pilots into the fold, but they acknowledged that privacy concerns make us look at operators skeptically. “We have a fascination and a fear of anything that rises up into the third dimension,” said John.