January 19, 2011 6:20am

Wichita, KS—The Wichita Aero Club launched its third year by focusing a spotlight on the Air Capital’s newest aviation resource—the National Center for Aviation Training—and its new president and chief executive officer, Dr. Tony Kinkel, who officially took the reins of the impressive new facility on January 3. The January 18th WAC luncheon was held on the campus of the recently opened, 258,000 square foot complex located at the north end of Wichita’s Colonel James Jabara Airport. A crowd of 200 attendees heard Wichita State University President Donald Beggs, National Institute of Aviation Research Executive Director John Tomblin and Kinkel elaborate on the importance and key role NCAT will play in Wichita’s economic and business future.

“This center, the programs it offers, and the graduates it produces are key to Wichita remaining the ‘Air Capital of the World,’” Dr. Beggs said. “That’s one big reason it is different from other training centers around the U.S. and, thanks to the participation of Wichita’s aviation manufacturers and suppliers, that’s why all the components are here” that are necessary for Wichita to retain and build on its position of leadership, he added.

One of the Center’s key strengths is the ability to take the most advanced research and quickly transfer it to the production floor, Dr. Tomblin pointed out.
“It takes a trained work force to be able to put those technologies to work,” he said. Our goal at NCAT is to have the best programs in the world, and that’s why we are constantly seeking advice and input from you in the field,” Dr. Kinkel added. “We’re also exploring a variety of partnerships and different ways of offering instruction…especially for those who have been laid off in the aviation industry during the recent economic downturn,” he said.

Wichita Eagle aviation reporter Molly McMillin was among several media representatives at the event. She posed a question to the panel regarding ways NCAT is seeking to attract more students. As she reported, Dr. Kinkel responded by saying that NCAT is looking into whether to offer weekend airframe and powerplant classes; they’re talking with the Air Force about a bridge program for retiring mechanics who aren’t FAA certified; and they’re working with the Wichita school district to get high school students interested in the aviation industry. The Center also would like to get into robotics and industrial mechanical systems to go along with its composites, painting and coating, and engineering and avionics programs.

Dr. Tomblin also noted that when NCAT opened in September, representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration, Transport Canada and other certification agencies around the world gathered there to discuss launching a joint ‘train-the-trainers’ program on composite technology. The FAA offered NCAT as a hub to make that occur, Tomblin said. “Now, we’re the hub to train the trainers here as well,” he said.

The panel discussion was held in the Center’s expansive new lecture hall following a buffet lunch that was served in the Student Center’s adjacent Commons area.

The Wichita Aero Club will return to the Wichita Airport Hilton for its next luncheon on Thursday the 3rd of February when it will host a panel discussion featuring members of The Lindbergh Foundation Board of Directors moderated by John and Martha King of The King Schools—the industry’s foremost flight trainers. The luncheon will begin at 11:45 AM. Tickets are $40 for non-members and $30 for members of the Wichita Aero Club. More information can be obtained by visiting the WAC website at or by calling 316-641-5962.

To view photos from this event click here WAC Photo Gallery