Wichita Airport History

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ICT History

History

Air Capital Terminal 1 (ACT 1), which is now the Kansas Aviation Museum, operated 19 years, from 1935 – 1954. Construction began June 1929 on the administration building of the Wichita Municipal Airport, now THE present day Kansas Aviation Museum. With the crash of the Stock Market and the start of the Great Depression in 1930, it took another five years before the building opened in 1935. 

In January 1951, the United States Air Force announced its intention to establish a base large enough for 6,500 personnel in Wichita in just three weeks. Shortly after the announcement came word that the USAF would take over the Wichita Municipal Airport for pilot training on B-47s. All non-military operators were asked to stop using the facility as soon as possible, with the exception of commercial airline traffic. Construction soon began on what is the current Mid-Continent Airport and by 1954, all non-military traffic including commercial airline traffic moved to Mid-Continent.

Air Capital Terminal 2 (ACT 2) – Wichita Municipal Airport/Wichita Mid-Continent Airport – April 1954 – May 2015. In January 1951, the Air Force established a Base at the Wichita Municipal Airport. Construction soon began on Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. It was determined that approximately 1,921 acres would be needed to accommodate the present and future needs of an airport for Wichita. Mid-Continent Airport opened at its present location on 1,921 acres in southwest Wichita, first to general aviation in 1953, and then to commercial flights in 1954. Cessna and Learjet located plants adjacent to the airfield and furthered our claim as Air Capital of the World by producing more than half of the world’s general aviation twin engine and turbojet aircraft.  See Brick and Tile 1954 for historical pictures.

Commercial Airlines in 1954

  • Braniff Airways, Inc.
  • Continental Air Lines, Inc.
  • Trans World Airlines, Inc.
    • and two feeder lines:
  • Central Airlines, Inc.
  • Ozark Airlines, Inc.

On April 1, 1954, Mayor Walt Keeler cut the ribbon at Gate 2 to officially open the new airport for 42 passengers that just landed on a Braniff flight from Texas.

  • 1961, commercial jet travel came to Mid-Continent, linking our region to the world as never before.
  • 1976 – Two concourses with 10 gates added
  • 1985 – Expansion of Ticketing and two additional gates
  • 1989 – Last Major Renovation & Expansion

This article discusses the construction of the new Wichita Municipal Airport, which became Wichita Mid-Continent Airport in 1974. This article was written by Emory L. Cox, who was the Director on the Board of Park Commissioners in 1954. The article is a reprint of the original which appeared in the October 1954 issue of the Kansas Government Journal in Topeka, Kansas. Download pdf

Construction of the Second Terminal Building (ACT2)

  • General Contractor: Martin K. Eby Construction Co., Inc.
  • Total cost:      $9,985,688.21
  • Cost of Terminal Building alone:
    • Roads, walks, fencing, etc., main parking area
    • Building—tunnel, escalators, other—
      • Includes control tower main building: $2,165,109.76
  • Architects & Engineers: Thomas-Harris-Calvin and Associates
  • Consultant: Leigh Fisher and Associates

Contractors:

  • General: Martin K. Eby Construction Co., Inc.
  • Electrical: Southwestern Electrical Co.
  • Mechanical
  • Davidson Plumbing Company
  • Ripstra-Turner Company

Board of Park Commissioners:

  • President: O.J. Watson
  • Director: Emory L. Cox
  • Engineer: W.R. Fleck
  • Airport Manager: C. Edward Straub

1972 Concourse Renovations

  • Architects: Calvin, Perkins, and Jones, P.A.
  • Contractor: Coonrod and Walz Construction Co., Inc.
  • Board of Park Commissioners
    • Director: H. Jay Setter
    • Engineer: Floyd J. Roedell
    • Airport Manager
      • Edward Straub (1941-1971)
      • James C. DeLong

1989 Terminal Renovations

  • Architect: Oblinger Mason McCluggage & VanSickle Corporation
  • General Contractor: Building Systems Corporation
  • Wichita Airport Authority
    • President: Gary Sherrer
    • Director of Airports: Bailis F. Bell
    • Director of Airport Engineering & Planning: Monroe L. Funk, P.E.
    • Construction Superintendent: Ronald L. Parker

Air Capital Terminal 3 (ACT 3) – Wichita’s third terminal building opened on June 3, 2015 with much fanfare and media attention.  The first departure was on United Airlines; the first arrival was on Southwest Airlines.   The first month of service saw a 6% increase in passengers.   Learn more about the Air Capital Terminal 3.

Factoids:

  • 1954 acreage:  1,923
  • 2024 acreage:  3,382
  • First full year of passengers, 1955: 221,189
  • Record year in passengers 2019: 1,749,906
  • Total passengers served 1954 – 2023:  74,924,757
  • Wichita elevation: 1,333 ft.
  • Latitude: 37°, 38 minutes, 59.79 seconds north
  • Longitude: 97°, 25 minutes, 57.77 seconds west
  • Total airport vehicles and equipment: 176
  • Total pavement (sq.yds): 869,391
  • Total Airport Operations Area Snow and Ice Treatment Areas (s.y.): 1,844,294
  • Total airfield pavement markings (l.f.): 2,217,708
  • Total airfield surface painted hold-short markings (s.f.): 14,810
  • Total airfield mowing (acres): 1,470
  • Total property maintained (acres): 4,169
  • Total buildings maintained (s.f.): 572,029
  • Total buildings cleaned (s.f.): 344,268
  • 2023 ICT aircraft operations:  114,293
  • ICT airfield capacity: 500,000 operations

View our YouTube Videos “A Look Back at Memories”

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