November 3, 2023
by Colby Sharples-Terry
Kansas boasts a aviation heritage that has played a pivotal role in the history of flight. From the early days of barnstorming to the modern era of aerospace innovation, the state has been home to countless aviators and aviation enthusiasts. Today, Kansas is home to several aviation museums that celebrate this history and provide a journey through the evolution of flight.
Kansas Aviation Museum, Wichita. The Kansas Aviation Museum is a must-visit for aviation enthusiasts and history buffs. This museum is housed in the historic Wichita Municipal Airport terminal, which itself is a testament to the state’s aviation legacy. Visitors can explore a vast collection of aircraft, engines and artifacts dating back to the early days of flight. One of the standout exhibits is the Beechcraft Model 17 Staggerwing, an iconic aircraft known for its distinctive design and historical significance. The museum also hosts events and educational programs, making it a popular destination for families and school groups.
ONE OF A KIND: The Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum, Atchison, Kan., tells the story of legendary aviation pioneer and Kansan Amelia Earhart. It’s also home to Muriel — the last remaining Lockheed Electra 10-E, the same type of craft Earhart was flying when she disappeared.
B-29 Doc Hangar, Education and Visitors Center, Wichita. The B-29 Doc Hangar, Education and Visitors Center is a premier destination for aviation enthusiasts and history aficionados. This facility showcases the historic B-29 Superfortress known as Doc, which was meticulously restored to airworthiness. Visitors can explore the aircraft up close, learn about its role in World War II and gain insights into the efforts that went into its restoration. The center also serves as an educational hub, providing information about aviation history and engineering innovations.
Combat Air Museum, Topeka. The Combat Air Museum is another gem that shines a light on military aviation history. The museum features a collection of military aircraft from various eras, along with an array of aviation artifacts, equipment and memorabilia. Visitors can get up close and personal with fighter jets, bombers and helicopters that have played pivotal roles in conflicts throughout history. The museum’s informative exhibits and knowledgeable staff offer a comprehensive overview of the military’s contribution to aviation.
AVIATION HEYDAY: The Kansas Aviation Museum, Wichita, is housed in the historic Wichita Municipal Airport terminal, itself a gem of the heyday of American aviation.
Mid-America Air Museum, Liberal. The Mid-America Air Museum in Liberal, in the southwest corner of the state, houses one of the most extensive aircraft collections in Kansas. With more than 100 aircraft on display, it offers a comprehensive look at the history of aviation in the region.
The museum presents the history of Beechcraft, a Kansas-based aircraft manufacturer that once had a factory in the facility where the museum is now housed. Visitors can explore various Beechcraft models, from early biplanes to modern business jets, and learn about the company’s significant contributions to aviation.
Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum, Atchison. The Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum is a tribute to the aviation pioneer, Amelia Earhart. Visitors can explore a collection of exhibits and artifacts, including Muriel, the last remaining Lockheed Electra 10-E, the type of aircraft Earhart was navigating on her final flight around the world when she disappeared on July 2, 1937. The museum offers a captivating journey into the life and achievements of this aviator.
Kansas’ many aviation museums offer a trip through time, from the early days of flight to the modern era of space exploration. These museums not only celebrate the state’s significant contributions to aviation but also provide educational and inspiring experiences for visitors of all ages. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an aviation buff or simply curious about the world of flight, exploring these museums in Kansas is a journey well worth taking.
Sharples-Terry is public relations and communications manager for Kansas Tourism. Kansas Tourism aims to inspire travel to and throughout Kansas to maximize the positive impacts that tourism has on the state and local communities. For more trip inspiration and to order a free Kansas Travel Guide, head to travelks.com.
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