The 2015 #FlyKansas Air Tour

News & Information You’ll Want To Know
In Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska & Iowa

by Yasmina Platt
Manager, AOPA Central Southwest Region

What does 530, 145, 172, 9.8, 10, 10, 4, 35, 30, 800 mean?

How does…
• flying about 530 nautical miles
• which, in a 145 hp Cessna 172, equated to about 9.8 Hobbs hours to
• 10 airports in 10 different cities around Kansas
• in 4 consecutive days
• in formation (at times) with 35 other pilots and 30 aircraft
• all in a goldfish pattern while
• increasing aviation activity across the state,
• showcasing and learning about different general aviation entities in the state,
• creating great camaraderie among the participants,
• showing the local community the importance and economic impact of their airport,
• reaching out to AOPA members and Airport Support Network (ASN) Volunteers, and
• reaching out to over 800 potential future aviators…sound?

Yup, that was the 2015 #FlyKansas Air Tour. What a busy, but fun time for Jim Pinegar, AOPA’s Vice President of AOPA’s Insurance Services, and myself!

This year’s tour started on Tuesday, September 29 and ended on Thursday, October 1, 2015. As a bonus, a brunch at the historic Beaumont Hotel (07S) was added for Friday, October 2, and EAA Chapter 88 scheduled their annual Newton (KEWK) fly-in for Saturday, October 3.

We started in Wellington (KEGT), as we did last year. The City of Wellington puts a great deal of effort into the start-up with several of the elected officials (including Mayor Hansel, an airport supporter herself), the high school band, lots of local kids, several sponsors, etc.

The city has started offering aviation/flying as an elective to their high school students this semester. We got a chance to meet all nine of the students and both Jim and I were really impressed with their knowledge, especially since they have only been in the program since mid-August. The plan is for them to take the private pilot written exam in December before the semester is over!

From Wellington, we were off to KPTT – Pratt. Most of us were surprised and pleased to visit the All Veterans Memorial Complex and learn the history of the airfield as an Army B-29 base during World War II.

We connected and shared our passion for general aviation with hundreds of students of all ages in Dodge City (KDDC) and the final destination for Tuesday was Liberal (KLBL) where we visited the Mid-America Air Museum. We could have spent hours going through their rich aviation collection and we also visited the cool FedEx B727 they have turned into a classroom/conference room where they are going to be starting STEM-based aviation classes for kids.

While we were able to “get the heck out of Dodge,” we got stuck in Liberal (KLBL) on Wednesday. Low IMC that lasted until about 1:30 pm prevented us from visiting Garden City (KGCK) and Shalz Field in Colby (KCBK).

After circumnavigating Dodge City on the way from Liberal to Hays (KHYS) due to continued low ceilings, we made it to Hays where we visited the RANS aircraft factory. It is impressive to go through a factory where you can see innovation and engineering in the making. Randy (founder, entrepreneur, owner, president, and designer) has sold a combination of about 5,000 airplanes and airplane kits to all corners of the world and he is still working on a few more designs. Keep an eye out for a four-seater in the near future!

Alan Core and Seth, a grandpa and grandson team from Iowa, flew the air tour and Seth wanted to leave with an airplane kit as a “good science project.” I say the young man will not only be a pilot, but also an aircraft builder when he grows up. We need more like him!

Thursday started pretty chilly, but the 4th graders at Blosser Municipal Airport (KCNK) in Concordia warmed all of our hearts quickly. They were beyond excited the entire time we were there. Selfishly, I felt like we had just as much fun with the kids, as the kids did with us.

Steve Richard, AOPA’s ASN Volunteer for KCNK, organized a terrific stop for everybody. He and I taught “principles of flight” to the kids before taking them out to the airplanes where they put their new knowledge to work. I went over the four forces of flight, parts of an airplane, etc., and then Steve pulled a couple of interactive ideas from AOPA’s Parents and Teachers Handbook (PATH) to demonstrate aerodynamics. The kids loved it! Funny enough, I think some of the pilots went home after the tour and practiced those experiments themselves.

It felt like “Helicopter Day!” at Freeman Field (K3JC) in Junction City. The Fort Riley 1st Infantry Division Brigade brought several helicopters and the local EMS operator had their air ambulance helicopter out on display as well.

And, the bittersweet moment came… we made it to our last stop: Emporia (KEMP).

The “Cook Boys” (Greg Thomas and Jason Wojteczko from K50 – Cook Airfield) won the aviator golf (flour bombing) contest and we were off to some real golf as a networking activity. No luck getting the ball from the tee box to the hole, but laughs were flowing!

No official word on whether or not there will be an air tour in 2016, but keep your eyes open and your ears tuned because I hope you can join us.

Until then, fly safe and fly often!

@AOPACentralSW, yasmina.platt@aopa.org

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