The 2017 Fly Kansas Air Tour gets underway Thursday morning in Wellington. Great Bend Municipal Airport isn’t one of the stops on the three-day tour, but that doesn’t mean good things aren’t happening here.
This is the fourth consecutive year for the revived tour, which first took place in 1928. The goal of that first tour was to promote the fledgling aviation industry in Kansas.
Great Bend participated as a host when the tour started fresh in 2014, and was on the tour again in 2016, Great Bend Municipal Airport Manager Martin Miller said.
“They try to mix up the en route stops every time, but we’ve been fortunate to keep a prime spot,” Miller said.
At least we can look forward to 2018, when there will be another Great Bend Airport Airfest. The last one, in 2015, brought historic warbirds and modern aircraft to our iconic airport.
The date for the fall airfest in 2018 won’t be set until there’s a “headliner” signed, but there may be a fundraiser or two before then. Possibilities include a 5K on the Runway and an open house with all of the local airplanes on display. That’s about 50 planes.
Meanwhile, efforts continue to find funding to improve the condition of our runway.
At almost 8,000 feet long, Great Bend’s runway in one of the longest in Kansas. The Federal Aviation Administration will pay 90 percent of needed repairs, although so far the FAA is only willing to help repair 5,500 feet. Maintaining the full length is important to many pilots who prefer our airport for fuel stops.
Since it was built in 1943 to support B-29 crews, Great Bend Municipal Airport (KGBD) has been part of our story.