100 Years of Aviation Progress
1911-1912  to  2011-2012

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Scale modelers are among the most enthusiastic and meticulous students of aviation history -- commonly studying aircraft histories thoroughly to produce precision, small replicas of the most spectacular aircraft of all time. Some learn the histories of specific aircraft they are modeling -- not merely a particular make and model, but the details of an individual aircraft -- learning everything possible about the airplane, from its serial and registration numbers, to its place of manufcture, to the names of its crew, and the aircraft's service history (the places that it was based, operations in which it was used, events involving the aircraft, and what ultimately became of it).

Scale modelers, in pursuit of their fascinations, are major consumers of aviation history literature and media. and common visitors at aviation museums. Many are aviation industry workers, with some among the executive and command ranks of major aviation enterprises.

For more information on scale modeling, CLICK HERE.



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Kansas Aircraft Factories, past & present - CLICK ON MAP TO ENLARGE
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Display models at ConAir2011, beside Kansas Aviation Museums' World War II vintage Stearman trainer biplane WICHITA'S CON AIR 2011

NOTE: For More Info, Contest Results & Photos, on officlal ConAir2011 web site, CLICK HERE.
To share, please CONTACT the KACC

WICHITA, Oct. 15-

The annual ConAir2011 Model Show & Contest -- at the Kansas Aviation Museum in Wichita -- included elegant models depicting various aspects of Kansas Aviation History.

Brigadier General Bradley S. Link, commander of the Kansas Air National Guard, and three survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor, were there to present awards, visit with the audience, and highlight the show's military theme -- the 70th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor.

70 years ago, on Dec. 7th, 1941, the Imperial Japanese navy launched a surprise air attack upon the United States military installations at Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii -- sinking ships and destroying planes -- killing over 2,000 Americans, wounding 2,000 more. The event triggered the United States entry into World War II, joining the Allies who were combatting Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany and Facist Italy. That war became the largest war in the history of America, and the biggest single event in human history.

Hundreds of thousands of Kansans would join the effort, as servicemen and women, or as support workers (especially in aircraft manufacturing, producing one out of every eight U.S. military aircraft).

Modelers at the show presented models of various ships involved in the Pearl Harbor event (including the battleship U.S.S. Arizona, where most of the deaths occurred), and models of the aircraft and vehicles present on the ground and in the air -- both American and Japanese. Additional models portrayed a wide range of World War II and other military action, as well as many other models in categories traditionally included in large model shows and competitions.


The Kansas Aviation Centennial Committee (KACC) had a table at the show, exhibiting images and books, and a continuous video slide show, featuring various aspects of Kansas aviation history.

Before the start of the awards ceremony, KACC Chair Richard Harris gave a brief talk about the depth and breadth of Kansas Aviation History, and the many ways in which it was connected to the wide range of aircraft models displayed.

Harris noted, for instance, that in World War II -- the broader theme of the show -- Kansas produced one in eight U.S. warplanes, including B-29 and B-25 bombers (whose crews were first trained in Kansas-built trainers). He added that many U.S. Army fighter planes were powered by Allison engines built in Kansas City, Kansas.


Among the awards presented to the modelers were three awards from the KACC honoring the "Best Model Representing Kansas Aviation History" -- in three categories:

  • Military Aviation
  • Commercial Aviation
  • General Aviation

  • Best Military Aviation Model Representing Kansas Aviation History award was earned by experienced modeler Chris Wheeler, whose large 1/48th scale model of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber was a powerful reminder of the role Kansas played in World War II.

    L to R:  KANG commander Brig.Gen. Brad Link, award-winner Chris Wheeler; and KACC Chairman Richard Harris.  CLICK TO ENLARGE
    Photo (click to enlarge), left to right: Kansas Air National Guard commander Brig. Gen. Brad Link; award-winner Chris Wheeler; Kansas Aviation Centennial Committee Chair Richard Harris.

    The B-29 -- a high-flying bomber that America used to carpet-bomb and incinerate nearly all the major cities of Japan -- was America's largest and most advanced combat aircraft of the war.

    The main B-29 factory was Boeing's Wichita Division, which built over 40% of the fleet. (Factories in Renton Wash., Marietta Ga., and Omaha, Neb. built the rest.) The advanced manufacturing development of Boeing-Wichita -- and the army of Kansas subcontractors (including Cessna
    Chris Wheeler's 1/48th-scale Boeing B-29 Superfortress.  CLICK TO ENLARGE
    Boeing B-29 Supefortress scale model by Chris Wheeler. (click to enlarge)
    and Beech) who supported the B-29 with parts and subassemblies -- became a major asset in postwar aircraft manufacturing for Kansas, giving the state a major head-start over other competitors.

  • Best Commercial Aviation Model Representing Kansas Aviation History award was presented to a young Isaac Herndon, whose Revell 1/144 scale model of the Space Shuttle Endeavor elegantly illustrated the ultimate extension of Kansas aviation technology and talent into space.

    Endeavor was one of the fleet of Space Shuttles
    Award-winner Isaac Herndon's model of the Space Shuttle Endeavor.
    Award-winner Isaac Herndon's model of the Space Shuttle Endeavor.
    which were the first manned spacecraft (and AIRcraft, since each flies back to earth as a glider) designed to shuttle human-handled commercial activity to and from space. The Endeavor, itself, served as a flying laboratory for commercial scientific experiments, and assembled the first parts of the International Space Station, which would host many more such commercial projects.

    The entire history of the NASA Space Shuttle program includes Kansas astronauts, including Joe Engle, commander of the first flight of the Shuttle prototype Enterprise.

    Many Shuttles carried Kansas-built parts, including the main fuel tank that the Shuttle rides into space; its key components were largely built by Wichita's own Learjet Corp., better known as the legendary pioneer of business jet aircraft.

  • Best General Aviation Model Representing Kansas Aviation History award went to veteran modeler Sean Glaspell, for his meticulous 1950s-vintage Pyro 1/48th scale model of the 1909 Bleriot XI monoplane. The French-built Bleriot (pronounced "BLAIR-ee-oh") was the world's first mass-produced airplane, setting the shape of airplanes to come -- sparking interest and imitation from America's first aircraft-builder on the Great Plains: Kansas-bred Clyde Cessna.

    The original Bleriot XI became famous when its creator, Louis Bleriot, in 1909, flew it from the French coast over the English Channel to Britain -- becoming the first to ever fly over open ocean, and between two countries. This event transformed the world's impression of the airplane -- from a casual toy, to a powerful tool and potential weapon.

    With a near-perfect combination of modern features superior to the Wright Flyer and other biplanes of the time, Bleriot's airplane was the first plane to be produced in the hundreds (over a thousand built), with imitations built throughout the world, including in the United States. Among them were the first airplanes by Clyde Cessna: His first, built in Oklahoma in 1911, and his next -- "Silverwings" (shown here) -- built in Kansas in 1912.

    In a time of biplanes, the Bleriot monoplane idea captivated Cessna, who would eventually become one of America's leading pioneers of the modern concept of single-wing aircraft, eventually the basic shape of modern aircraft design. Over the next century, Cessna's Kansas-based company would become the world's highest-volume producer of airplanes -- all of them monoplanes, from the start. L to R:  KANG commander Brig.Gen. Brad Link, award-winner Sean Glaspell, & KACC Chairman Richard Harris.  CLICK TO ENLARGE

    For the same model, Glaspell also won the show's trophy for overall
    Best Representation of Kansas Aviation History.

    Photo, above right (click to enlarge), left to right: Kansas Air National Guard commander Brig. Gen. Bradley S. Link; award-winner Sean Glaspell; Kansas Aviation Centennial Committee Chair Richard Harris.

ConAir 2011 was produced and hosted by the Air Capital IPMS Modelers (local chapter of the International Plastic Modelers' Society) -- led by Chapter President Mark Vittorini, a KACC member, who coordinated the show and helped the KACC develop its awards.

With support from other sponsors (including Hobby Town USA , a Centennial supporter) -- this event drew modelers from three states, and helped highlight the military and technological achievements of Kansas's rich aviation heritage.

The Air Capital IPMS Modelers club includes dozens of scale-modeling enthusiasts throughout the Wichita area, and provides events and programs to encourage modelers -- young and old, alike.

Last revised/updated Oct.19, 2011

Kansas Aviation Centennial Committee
Richard Harris, Chariman,
(316) 371-9079



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