Must-See 2023 Aviation Events & How Wichita Became Known for Flight

Wichita, Kansas is often known as the “Air Capital of the World” due to its deep-rooted, rich aviation history and impact on the development of the general aviation aircraft industry as we know it today.


Wichita – Air Capital of the World

Wichita has held this title it has held since 1928. At that time, Wichita was home to 16 aircraft manufacturers who produced an impressive 120 planes each week, making up nearly one-quarter of all planes built in the United States.

This legacy of aviation manufacturing continues to be an economic driver in Wichita to this day. Some say this moniker took root in 1916 when Clyde Cessna signed a contract to manufacture planes in Kansas. Now the go-to plane for flight schools, the Cessna 172 remains the most successful plane in history.


Also founded in Wichita are iconic aviation brands such as Beechcraft, Learjet, and Stearman, with modern-day companies like Airbus Americas, Bombardier, Spirit AeroSystems, and Textron Aviation now designing and manufacturing aircraft and parts in this city.

A Brief History of Wichita Aviation

During World War II, Wichita’s aircraft industry enjoyed a boom producing 1,644 B-29 Superfortresses (see “Doc,” the most famous of them all). After the war, however, 16,000 people were laid off from Boeing in one day. If anything, that emphasizes the scale of aviation production required to win this war.


The first U.S. swept-wing jet bomber, Boeing B-47 Stratojet, rolled off the Wichita production lines in 195. Soon after, the United States Air Force announced its intention to establish an air force base at the Wichita municipal airport.

Was this the first smoking section on a commercial flight?

In the 1950s, Wichita was also at the forefront of the Cold War-era defense industry. The city was home to many of the leading manufacturers of military aircraft and missiles, such as Boeing, North American Aviation, and Learjet.


Learjet has actually been around since 1962. Although we now think of Learjet as a luxury jet, its preliminary designs were for fighter aircraft, something that never got off the ground.

Rise of Wichita as a Hub for Aircraft Manufacturing

In 1954, construction began on what became the Mid-Continent Airport, and Cessna’s Model 172 set world sales records, proving Wichita unstoppable as the Air Capital of The World.


The Boeing B-52 bomber also began production at this time, and it is still being used today. Now along with airplane manufacturing, many parts and support companies have found their beginnings in Wichita or migrated there. No doubt this also started the rise in these luxury travel apps.

Upcoming 2023 Aviation Events in Wichita, Kansas, & Other U.S. Cities

The aviation events across the U.S. this year have included a variety of expos and air shows for aviation enthusiasts, and aviation events continue to grow throughout the country. Here’s what’s coming up and why you’ll want to be there.

International Women in Aviation Conference – Long Beach, California
– February 23-25, 2023

The International Women in Aviation Conference (IWAC) is an annual event held by Women in Aviation International (WAI). It is a forum for networking, professional development, and education for women in the aviation and aerospace industries.


This is the largest gathering of women in aviation and provides a platform for the exchange of ideas, best practices, and strategies for success.

Why You Want To Be There.

The conference also serves as a launching pad for new programs, initiatives, and products. The conference offers a variety of educational seminars, panel discussions, and workshops on a range of topics related to the aviation industry. And everyone knows Southern California has the best weather.

CAF AirPower History Tour – Various Cities But Mostly In Florida
– February through August 2023

Gathering aircraft, pilots, and crews from 70+ Commemorative Air Force units across the US, the B-29/B-24 Squadron of the CAF forms the mighty AirPower Squadron.

Traveling throughout the United States, you’ll enjoy an ever-evolving collection of military aircraft that join forces to deliver the thrilling sights and sounds of World War II aviation history.

Why You Want To Be There.

If you’re a history buff, particularly interested in the air power of the United States, then this gets the adrenaline going with the heroes who flew and the mighty machines they commanded, including the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, first flown in 1942.

Kansas Aviation Expo – Junction City, Kansas
– June 3, 2023

This event is put on by Flinthills EAA Chapter 1364 and celebrates all things wings – outside of birds. Here you’ll stroll through a collection of aircraft that span eras – from antique to experimental to modern.

There’s a bustle of activity on the grass runways, and you’ll get to sample delectable treats while browsing aviation-themed vendors on the field.

Why You Want To Be There.

B-29 Doc Warbird Weekend – Wichita, Kansas
– July 5-9, 2023

So, who’s Doc? The legendary B-29 Superfortress, named ‘Doc’, was one of 1,644 manufactured in Wichita during World War II. Unfortunately, in 1987, she was discovered in a state of disrepair, languishing in the Mojave Desert. Fortunately, the historic warbird has been brought back to life, soaring through the skies as a flying museum.


The restoration of this massive flying machine is a testimonial to the tenacity of those dedicated to flight. Here, you get to experience this shiny beauty up close and personal.

Why You Want To Be There.

If you’re looking for a mix of motivation and inspiration, this is a compelling Phoenix Rising from the Ashes story. From a heap of broken wings and distressed steel, she rose out of the ashes into the magnificent plane we see today. Here’s some live streaming of this behemoth in its hangar.


EAA AirVenture – Oshkosh, Wisconsin
– July 24 – July 30, 2023

The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) is a growing and diverse organization of members with a wide range of aviation interests and backgrounds. No doubt we’ll be seeing flying cars working their way into these shows as well.

Flying taxis

Founded by a group of individuals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who were interested in building their own airplanes, EAA expanded its mission of growing participation in aviation to include antiques, classics, warbirds, aerobatic aircraft, ultralights, helicopters, and contemporary manufactured aircraft.

Why You Want To Be There.

If your thing is piloting around the friendly skies, then this is a hot ticket for fly-in aviation events – with a side of insanity. With top air show performers and aerial displays covering every aspect of aviation, you’ll want to get your bearings on how to attend. Over the course of a week, crowds can exceed 650,000 people.

Lots of pilots fly in for this so you’ll want as much info as possible if that’s your plan. As a pilot, there’s nothing quite like performing a smooth wing-rock and lining up perfectly with one of the colorful runway dots at Wittman Regional Airport for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.

But remember, you’re not the only one flying in. Not by a long shot. During this expo, over 10,000 airplanes land at this airport, truly earning its title of “world’s busiest airport”.

You’ll want to follow these 10 tips for flying into AirVenture. And here’s something super cool. Once the AirVenture NOTAM goes into effect the Friday before opening day, you can listen in on arrivals and departures, from anywhere in the world via LiveATC. If this airport makes you a little nervous, you might want to just book a private flight, they’re actually somewhat economical if you know the ropes.

Kansas Air Show – Gardner, Kansas
– August 19-20, 2023

Featuring the famous Blue Angels, This is the region’s premier air show with world-class aerial performers, premium exhibitors, and partnership opportunities. On the exhibitor side, you’ll find an extraordinary display of U.S. Navy Blue Angels Air Show Planes, the F-18s.


There’s also the dynamic U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team, the remarkable Trojan Phlyers 2 T-28B Aircraft, Smoke N Thunder Jet Show’s magnificent “Fat Albert” Blue Angels C-130, and much more.

Why You Want To Be There.

Seeing the Blue Angels perform should be on every aviator’s bucket list. The United States Navy’s renowned flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, was established in 1946 and continues to wow spectators to this day with their incredible aerial performances and breathtaking maneuvers – featuring aviators from both the Navy and the Marines.

AeroShell Aerobatic Team Performance – A full Schedule Mostly in the Eastern States
– February through December 2023

The AeroShell Aerobatic Team amaze and enthrall millions of airshow spectators with their astonishing formation aerial stunts. Led by Mark Henley, with Bryan Regan at the right wing, Steve Gustafson at the left wing, and Jimmy Fordham at the slot.


These four pilots of T-6 Texan aircraft masterfully execute a dazzling array of loops, rolls, and bomb bursts. This is an awe-inspiring choreographed aerobatic routine with a full schedule across various states, you should be able to pencil this in.

Why You Want To Be There.

The “Texan,” as this type of plane flown is affectionately called, performs stunts that defy gravity in mind-blowing synchronization. If you’ve ever wondered what Cirque Du Soleil would be like in airplanes, this show’s for you.

National Championship Air Races – Reno, Nevada
– September 13-17, 2023

Organizing an electrifying air racing and air show spectacle is something to see for sure, and this annual event in September north of Reno celebrates and preserves the planet’s fastest motorsport. This is one of the top aviation events you don’t want to miss.

Why You Want To Be There.

This will satisfy anyone’s need for speed. With 7 racing classes and over 150 planes, you’ll give your neck a good workout watching these aerial races.

If you want to get your fill of easy-to-understand fun facts. Here’s a video that explains these races like you’re a 5-year-old. Yes, we had to watch it too, but now we’re at a genius level when it comes to understanding how a pack of planes can race each other without a track.

Frontiers In Flight Airshow & Open House – McConnell AFB, Wichita, Kansas
– September 24 & 25

This air show features another known coveted group of aerial performers- the Thunderbirds. Here, The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds show off the remarkable potential of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, their top multi-role combat aircraft. Boeing plays a big role in this event as well, showcasing their latest and greatest airliners.


Why You Want To Be There.

2 words – air refueling. Home to the 22nd Air Refueling Wing Command, refueling jets while traveling at 300-350 mph, is an aerobatic feat in itself.

Oddly, this isn’t new as the first aerial refueling took place in 1921, transferring a whopping 5 gallons of fuel. The transfer method was wing-walking and plane hopping which is nuts. Kind of like our trailblazers who walked on skyscraper beams to get take a photo back in the day.

Of course, we can’t talk about trailblazers without mentioning our fave pilot, Emelia Earhart – also born and raised in Kansas. At this air show and expo, you’ll be brought up to speed on all the interesting facts about how they actually do this.


Flight and aviation were born from the hearts of big dreamers, and these aviation events let you experience the journey they took. With world-class pilots flying technology that most of us can’t even begin the fathom, these air shows and expos will keep us dreaming big while looking up to the skies for inspiration.

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