A Day At The Kansas State Capitol – Aviation Style

Last Fall I contacted a fellow pilot/mechanic, Spencer, to inquire about the dates of the 2018 Kansas Air Tour.  I have been wanting to do some kind of event like this, but the Women’s Air Race Classic is out of both my and my Aircoupe’s league, so this sounded like a good alternative. Besides, Kansas is my home state and I love chasing horizons on the prairie.
The Air Tour is one of the annual events the Kansas Commission on Aviation Education (KCAE) organizes.  It just happened that the committee was planning to meet the following week in a nearby town and Spence is a member, so he invited me to come along.  Why not?  It involved aviation!
The KCAE, was established by Executive Order of  Kansas Governor Andrew Scheoppel in 1945. The mission of the private, non-profit organization is to develop and encourage educational and vocational programs that promote the aviation industry in Kansas to young students.  It is a registered Kansas not-for-profit corporation and works in concert with the Kansas DOT Aviation Division.  The meeting discussed 2018 proposed activities as well as the scholarship fund for the year.
Kansas Aviation Showcased
When the Kansas Aviation Day at the State Capitol in Topeka came up, my ears perked up:  an opportunity to voice the MIssion Aviation Fellowship (MAF) message?  hummmmm…As an current member of the Wichita MAF Advocate Wing, A Kansas (and Texas) based pilot, and former air traffic controller, this interested me.

aviationKansas Aviation Day is an annual event held at the Capitol Building in Topeka.  It is a gathering of Kansas legislators, aviation manufacturers, suppliers, organizations and businesses of all sizes.  The purpose is to highlight the economic impact of aviation in Kansas on the State – currently over $20.6 Billion (yes that is a big number!).

 Since MAF’s fleet is made up of a lot of Wichita built aircraft, I asked at the meeting if they fit the criteria for the event.  I was assured that with the long time connection to Cessna and Beechcraft MAF would be welcome.
I discussed it with my fellow Advocate Wing members and found that MAF had been at previous Aviation Days.  So we sent in the application, and I headed to Topeka for the  event.  The display was erected, materials laid out and a computer set up with continuous MAF videos playing.
Mission Aviation – A Worthy Employment of Kansas Avaition
I had composed an “elevator pitch” to respond to the question, “what is MAF?” using the mission statement to  “Share the love of Jesus Christ through aviation and technology so that isolated people may be physically and spiritually transformed” then adding, “we are here today is to demonstrate another way in which Kansas built aircraft are employed around the world”.
This year, forty-two exhibitors attended, ranging from the military to schools to the NBAA.  Of course Textron (Cessna and Beechcraft) and Bombardier (Learjet) were there as well.  Many other non-profits were represented including Kansas Pilots for Christ, the EAA and the Kansas Aviation Museum.  It was the largest turnout of both exhibitors and visitors the event had expereinced.  Visitors included students on school tours, legislative staff, state representatives, other visitors touring the capitol.
Of those I spoke with, there were many who were not aware of MAF, so materials were shared.  Yet, the thing that stood out to me as a new advocate, was the number of people who knew of MAF, had family or friends who had or were working with MAF or at least knew of the story of its beginnings.  The admiration for the work this organization does is  deep and wide in Kansas.  State legislators stopped to say thank you.
Aviation At Its’ Best
I stayed at the display most of the time, missing the morning program and speakers. Toward the end of the day, I made the rounds handing out 2018 calendars to other exhibitors.   A special thanks was passed to the KCAE/KDOT staff for putting this together.
There were other aspects underpinning the day:

Wherever you go in the world, where there is an airplane, from Boeing to Cessna, to Beechcraft to Lear Jet – you will find Kansas, and specifically Wichita there.  I have been to remote places, inevitably, where there is an airstrip there is an airplane built in Wichita.  The Kansas Avitaion Day showcases that reality.

Does aviation have a place in your life?  If so, how?  Please leave a comment below. 

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