Kansas Aviation Historian Walt House, 86, "flown west"
Leading Kansas aviation historian Walt House, 86, has died -- "flown west" (into the sunset) as pilots say. With him goes a lifetime of great influence in the preservation and promotion of Kansas aviation history. House was well-known by Kansas media and scholars as the primary source of knowledge on the history of Wichita aviation, and Kansas aviation, and appeared frequently on stage, TV and film, sharing that history with the public.
Best known as the longtime curator and chief historian of the Kansas Aviation Museum (KAM), in Wichita, House served on its board, and recently as restorations manager.
The museum's longest-serving former executive director, Lon Smith, described House's knowledge of local aviation and aircraft as "amazing," noting House's remarkable familiarity with the intimate details of early Kansas airplanes.
"He was indeed a major resource," said Wichita State University history Professor Jay Price, who guides the college's Local and Community History Program -- adding, "What a loss to local aviation history."
"It is a huge loss," echoed Molly McMillin, the former aviation reporter for
the Wichita Eagle, (now managing editor of The Weekly of Business
Aviation, that industry's principal newsletter). "He was always patient and
kind, and had so much knowledge in his head," said McMillin, who consulted him
for articles. She described him to the Wichita Eagle, as an
"invaluable... community resource."
House was among the handful of key historians who helped to establish the date of the Wichita Aviation Centennial (Sept.2016--Sept.2017), as he did for the Kansas Aviation Centennial five years earlier.
House began his love affair with aviation as a child. A close cousin recalls over a dozen aircraft models, painstakingly crafted from popsicle sticks, hung throughout his bedroom -- and visitors were warned not to touch them.
When a neighbor offered a ride in his biplane, young Walt knew his mother would not approve, and decided to go anyway, deciding that "it was worth the whipping," according to colleague Harold Walter.
Burrton, Kansas high school classmates John and Willa Edwards (Willa grew up across the street from House's rural Kansas home)remember Walt as a quiet person, but active in extracurricular affairs, including the small-town obligatory role as a football teammate.
As Walt matured, he joined the military, eventually retiring in the upper echelon of enlisted personnel, as a Senior Master Seargeant in the Air Force -- then turned to work at Boeing-Wichita, where he worked until final retirement -- only to dive into volunteer work helping to bring the Kansas Aviation Museum to life.
Following his funeral in Wichita (at St. Thomas Aquinas Church), he was laid to rest in his hometown of Burrton, Kansas (between Hutchinson and Newton, an hour northwest of Wichita), in a ceremony highlighted by military honors and a missing-man formation flyover by Wichita-built Boeing/Stearman biplanes.
For more on this popular and pivotal icon of Kansas aviation history, see:
"Aviation historian Walt House dies at age 86,"
the Wichita Eagle, July 4/5, 2017
...which recounts Walt's life and legacy, quotes some of his professional admirers, and notes the schedule of his memorial events, followed by photos.
"Walter Dean House flies West,"
OX5 Aviation Pioneers website
July 4, 2017
Kansas aviation historian Walt House (lower-left) and wife Carol, in front of aviation centennial chairman Richard Harris, with OX-5 Club leaders Harold and Bobbie Walter (right).
OX-5 AVIATION PIONEERS
SLIDE SHOW & LUNCH
Kansas Aviation History
It's time for the Fall get-together of the Kansas Chapter of the OX-5 Aviation Pioneers -- popularly known in aviation circles as the "OX-5 Club,"
leading association of old-time civilian aviators -- and their fellows and their fans.
OPEN to the PUBLIC:
Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012, 11:30 AM,
The Kansas Chapter of the OX-5 Aviation Pioneers holds their autumn meeting over lunch, in northwest Wichita, at DeFazzio's restaurant, on Amidon, just north of 21st Street and the Twin Lakes Shopping Center, on Saturday, Oct.13, starting at 11:30AM.
The public is invited to attend, and the only cost is to pay for your own food. This is a great chance to visit with genuine Kansas aviation "old timers," and hang out with them.
A short business meeting is planned, followed a slide show by Chapter member Mike Audo on the world's biggest airshow -- the legendary, popular, antique-rich EAA AirVenture Fly-In, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin -- which he attended this summer. Also, Bobbie & Harold Walter report on the
OX-5 National Reunion, near St. Louis, which they attended recently.
The show wraps up before 3pm. You're invited! Come join the fun!
the OX-5 club
at (316) 733-2377
ADDED TO KANSAS CAPITOL
WALK OF HONOR
The most famous of all pioneer women aviators, and the world's most famous woman of her time --
Kansas-bred Amelia Earhart
(shown on this 1963 commemorative U.S. postage stamp) --
became, today, one of three new faces added to the
Kansas Walk of Honor at the State Capitol Building in Topeka.
Previously, the walk had only honored one other Kansan before.
In a ceremony attended by Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and Kansas Historical Society leaders, a plaque honoring Earhart -- and plaques honoring two other famous Kansans -- were added to the new state honor memorial, which had previously only honored
one Kansan -- former U.S. Senate Majority Leader, and 1996 Republican Presidential Nominee,
Honored with Earhart were fellow Kansans Charles Curtiss, a former U.S. Senator and United States Vice President (under Herbert Hoover), and Jack Kilby, Nobel Laureate in Physics, who co-invented the electronic "microchip" -- the beginning of today's high-tech electronics and computers.
Earhart -- raised mostly in Atchison, Kansas -- rose to fame in the mid-1920s, when she became a pioneering woman pilot, known for her historic long-distance flights and daring ocean crossings.
The first woman -- and only the second person (after Charles Lindbergh)
-- to fly solo across the Atlantic (in her "Little Red Bus" Lockheed Vega, at right) -- Earhart, like Lindbergh, was revered throughout the world, as an icon of courage and a hero of high adventure.
Further, Earhart became the world's most famous symbol of women's potential -- and a beacon of inspiration to an entire generation of women -- proving women's capabilities far beyond the domestic roles to which they were traditionally restricted in most of the world.
MORE... (with pictures, from Topeka Capital-Journal)
Amelia Earhart's Story...
(Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum,
KANSAS AVIATION CENTENNIAL
WICHITA, Sept, 2012-
With the end of the Kansas Aviation Centennial year, there was some consideration as to what should become of the Kansas Aviation Centennial website.
The KAC Committee Chair / Webmaster had attempted to pattern the KAC website on the famous website of the U.S. Centennial of Flight (2002-2003). That national, federally-subsidized aviation history website
grew into a huge, detailed, popular reference work on U.S. aviation history.
In the interest of preserving that historic national aviation history website for public education, it is now being preserved online -- long after the end of that 2003 Centennial and its organization -- by NASA. (The official "home" page is suspended, but nearly all other pages can still be located through search engines like Google and Yahoo).
The KAC website (which you are now viewing) lacked the million-dollar budget of the U.S. Centennial site, but with much volunteer effort over several months, has grown to dozens of pages on Kansas aviation history and related events and news -- including a fairly substantial collection of references on Kansas aviation history, branching out from the website's RESOURCES page.
Throughout the Kansas Aviation Centennial Year (Sept.2011 to Sept.2012), Kansas Hosting, LLC
-- a major local web-hosting service in Wichita -- had provided hosting of the KAC web site, free of charge, to the KAC Committee.
However, with the end of the Centennial Year, it was assumed that Kansas Hosting would no longer be interested in hosting the site, and the Chair and Webmaster did not wish to unduly burden their generous host further.
Other suitable parties -- various aviation educational & history organizations, and museums, were approached by the Chair, in hopes of finding an appropriate new home for the KAC website and its trove of Kansas aviation history information.
Good news came just in time. The nation's foremost association of
aviation historians --
American Aviation Historical Society
-- offered, generously, to host the KAC pages on their website. AAHS webmaster and newsletter editor C. Hayden Hamilton explained they "don't want to see the information lost."
However, before the AAHS offer was known, KAC Chair Richard Harris met with the Kansas Commission on Aerospace Education (KCAE) at their annual meeting in Benton, near Wichita -- to seek their involvement in preserving the KAC website.
During the KCAE discussion, a KCAE board member requested data that required a KAC's Harris to promptly phone the current web host,
Kansas Hosting, LLC. In the ensuing phone discussion, Kansas Hosting's president, Jeremiah Connelly, dropped a surprise offer -- to continue hosting the site indefinitely, at no charge, without any changes in service. The offer was too good to pass up, and was gladly accepted.
KCAE and AAHS were thanked for their interest, and have been invited to work with the KAC Chair/Webmaster on sharing of the Kansas aviation history story, and each have been encouraged to add links to the KAC website from their own websites, to spread the word, and carry forward the history and celebration of Kansas's rich aviation heritage.
Thanks to AAHS, KCAE, and especially to our old/new web host —
Kansas Hosting, LLC
Kansas Aviation Centennial Year
FOR MORE INFORMATION,
Kansas Aviation Centennial Committee
Richard Harris, Chairman,