About Wichita and the Surrounding Area

An Overview of Wichita

A visit to Wichita may just entice you to join the people (more than 385,000) who call Wichita home. Wichita is the largest city in Kansas and a vibrant community with an active arts scene and diverse cultural and culinary experiences.

Wichita has diverse housing options, wonderful schools, great weather and some of the friendliest people you'll find around.

Wichita provides various opportunities for worship, excellent universities, and an array of healthcare facilities and financial institutions. And, thanks to new low-cost carriers in the Wichita market, Wichita Mid-Continent Airport provides easy and inexpensive access to any travel destination you may have in mind.

Wichita Flag

A Brief History

Wichita is a jewel in the heartland of the United States. It ís right at the point where the Big and Little Arkansas Rivers meet. The “Keeper of the Plains”, a majestic and commanding figure that many people associate with Wichita, created by the late Wichita artist Blackbear Bosin, now marks the historic spot. The Wichita Indians who lived in this area gave our city its name. Later, settlers discovered this land of subtle beauty, good soil, water and abundant wildlife, which was to be named Sedgwick County.

Our Aviation Heritage

By 1916 Wichita was by far the largest city in south-central Kansas and was easily accessible to the nearby Butler County oil fields. Oilman J.M. (Jack) Moellendick met Emil Matthew Laird, a barnstorming pilot who wished to build airplanes commercially, and William Burek, manager of the Wichita Aircraft Company (which was actually a wheat field that recently had been converted to a landing strip).

In the spring of 1920, the three were joined by Laird's brother, Charles, and they organized the Wichita Laird Aircraft Corporation and developed a two-place biplane, the Swallow. The rest, as they say, is history.

By 1929 a total of 16 aircraft factories, employing some 2,000 people, were producing one-forth of all commercial aircraft built in the USA. In addition, the city boasted 11 airports and 41 support companies.

Over the years a number of aviation pioneers, including individuals whose names would come to define the industry, established themselves in Wichita. Among these visionaries were Lloyd Stearman, Walter Beech, Clyde Cessna and later Bill Lear. The Stearman company was acquired and the name changed to Wichita-Boeing.

The Second World War transformed Wichita's aircraft plants to the status of a major industry. By 1943 fully one half of the cities 184,000 dwellers owed their livelihood to the aircraft plants. Following the war, Wichita's plane makers successfully switched their emphasis to commercial and business aircraft, and in doing reestablished the city as the "Air Capital of the World."