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Six Wichita Stories of Aviation (A McIlwaine Speaker Series Talk)

02:00 PM, May 19, 2024 | Wichita-Sedgwick Co. Historical Museum

Over two days, Edward Phillips will discuss aviation stories set right here in the Air Capital including- E.M. Laird, the Saga of PK_SAM, Beechraft’s Bullish A17 Biplanes, the Women’s Air Derby of 1939, Walter H. Beech, and the Cessna CR-Series Racers.

E.M. Laird: Centers on his contributions to the birth of airframe manufacturing in Wichita. Development of the “Swallow” biplane and establishment of the city’s first airplane company. Laird’s often contentious relationship with J.M. Moellendick; hiring of Walter Beech and Lloyd Stearman; leaving Wichita in 1923 and returning to his native Chicago to start his own airframe business aimed at air mail, sportsman pilots, and air racing.


The Saga of PK-SAM: Story of a Beechcraft E17 equipped with floats and flown extensively in Northern Borneo by Rev. George Fisk in the years prior to America’s entry into WW II. The airplane was used by Fisk to spread the Gospel for the Christian & Missionary Alliance church, as well as tending to the native Dyak’s medical needs. An interesting look into how a Beechcraft from Wichita played an important role in far away outpost amongst cannibal peoples, and how its mission finally ended.
Beechcraft’s Bullish A17 Biplanes: Traces the development of four of the earliest Beechcraft biplanes built by the company from 1932-1934. These were the most powerful Beechcrafts ever built until the advent of WW II. Their high performance exceeded that of military fighters of the era, but there was no commercial market for such brutish biplanes in the midst of the Great Depression, forcing Walter Beech and engineer Ted Wells to develop more affordable biplanes that would sell in a limited market.


The Women’s Air Derby of 1929: Examines the formation of a five-airplane team of Travel Air biplanes flown by lady aviators including Louise McPhetridge von Thaden, Marvel Crosson, Blanche Noyes, Florence “Pancho” Barnes, and Mary von Mach. Tells the story of the Derby along its 2,400-mile route from California to Illinois as part of the 1929 National Air Races.


Walter H. Beech—The Early Days: Follows the early life of Beech from his humble beginning on a farm in rural Tennessee to his attaining notoriety as one of America’s greatest aviation entrepreneurs. Covers the decades from 1911-1950, his formative years in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, working for E.M. Laird, his talent for understanding the aviation marketplace and what pilots wanted in an airplane, and his no-nonsense approach to operating a successful airplane company.


The Cessna CR-Series Racers: The C.V. Cessna Airplane Company existed for merely three years and only built three airplanes, but these racers made headlines in Wichita as they competed for prize money in the dangerous sport of air racing. Includes a few very rare photos of the first Cessna CR-1 that is known to have flown only once or possibly twice, before being redesigned. Features information about Eldon, who was instrumental in designing and building the racers and worked hand-in-hand with his father, Clyde. Overall, a glimpse into a little-known story about a tiny company that achieved fame and even a little fortune during its brief existence.
About the Speaker

Edward H. Phillips is an American writer/historian, aviation industry reporter, and aviator who has specialized in the general aviation industry of the central United States—with particular emphasis on the aviation history of Wichita, KS and its aircraft manufacturers. Phillips earned a degree in journalism, with a minor in aviation, from the University of North Dakota. Most noted as an aviation writer and historian, with numerous publications, including nine books and over 1,000 articles on aviation and aerospace topics.

Upcoming McIlwaine Speaker Series Topics-

August 10th – “The Women of Brown” by Donna Rae Pearson

November 9th – “Researching Your Home and the People Who Lived There” by Diana Starnes Dean

This quarterly speaker series is made possible through a generous grant from the Charles and Joanne McIlwaine Foundation.

  • Admission:

    Free

  • Days:

    5/19/2024

  • > 2024-05-19 2024-05-19 15:00:00 Six Wichita Stories of Aviation (A McIlwaine Speaker Series Talk) <p>Over two days, Edward Phillips will discuss aviation stories set right here in the Air Capital including- E.M. Laird, the Saga of PK_SAM, Beechraft’s Bullish A17 Biplanes, the Women’s Air Derby of 1939, Walter H. Beech, and the Cessna CR-Series Racers.<br><br>E.M. Laird: Centers on his contributions to the birth of airframe manufacturing in Wichita. Development of the “Swallow” biplane and establishment of the city’s first airplane company. Laird’s often contentious relationship with J.M. Moellendick; hiring of Walter Beech and Lloyd Stearman; leaving Wichita in 1923 and returning to his native Chicago to start his own airframe business aimed at air mail, sportsman pilots, and air racing.</p> <p><br>The Saga of PK-SAM: Story of a Beechcraft E17 equipped with floats and flown extensively in Northern Borneo by Rev. George Fisk in the years prior to America’s entry into WW II. The airplane was used by Fisk to spread the Gospel for the Christian &amp; Missionary Alliance church, as well as tending to the native Dyak’s medical needs. An interesting look into how a Beechcraft from Wichita played an important role in far away outpost amongst cannibal peoples, and how its mission finally ended.<br>Beechcraft’s Bullish A17 Biplanes: Traces the development of four of the earliest Beechcraft biplanes built by the company from 1932-1934. These were the most powerful Beechcrafts ever built until the advent of WW II. Their high performance exceeded that of military fighters of the era, but there was no commercial market for such brutish biplanes in the midst of the Great Depression, forcing Walter Beech and engineer Ted Wells to develop more affordable biplanes that would sell in a limited market.</p> <p><br>The Women’s Air Derby of 1929: Examines the formation of a five-airplane team of Travel Air biplanes flown by lady aviators including Louise McPhetridge von Thaden, Marvel Crosson, Blanche Noyes, Florence “Pancho” Barnes, and Mary von Mach. Tells the story of the Derby along its 2,400-mile route from California to Illinois as part of the 1929 National Air Races.</p> <p><br>Walter H. Beech—The Early Days: Follows the early life of Beech from his humble beginning on a farm in rural Tennessee to his attaining notoriety as one of America’s greatest aviation entrepreneurs. Covers the decades from 1911-1950, his formative years in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, working for E.M. Laird, his talent for understanding the aviation marketplace and what pilots wanted in an airplane, and his no-nonsense approach to operating a successful airplane company.</p> <p><br>The Cessna CR-Series Racers: The C.V. Cessna Airplane Company existed for merely three years and only built three airplanes, but these racers made headlines in Wichita as they competed for prize money in the dangerous sport of air racing. Includes a few very rare photos of the first Cessna CR-1 that is known to have flown only once or possibly twice, before being redesigned. Features information about Eldon, who was instrumental in designing and building the racers and worked hand-in-hand with his father, Clyde. Overall, a glimpse into a little-known story about a tiny company that achieved fame and even a little fortune during its brief existence.<br>About the Speaker<br><br>Edward H. Phillips is an American writer/historian, aviation industry reporter, and aviator who has specialized in the general aviation industry of the central United States—with particular emphasis on the aviation history of Wichita, KS and its aircraft manufacturers. Phillips earned a degree in journalism, with a minor in aviation, from the University of North Dakota. Most noted as an aviation writer and historian, with numerous publications, including nine books and over 1,000 articles on aviation and aerospace topics. </p> <p>Upcoming McIlwaine Speaker Series Topics-<br><br>August 10th &#8211; “The Women of Brown” by Donna Rae Pearson<br><br>November 9th &#8211; “Researching Your Home and the People Who Lived There” by Diana Starnes Dean<br><br>This quarterly speaker series is made possible through a generous grant from the Charles and Joanne McIlwaine Foundation.</p> 204 South Main Street Wichita, KS America/Chicago
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