It took nearly 7,000 construction workers close to four months to build it in 1942. More than 5,000 men and their families said goodbye to it in 1965. And in 2005, more than 15,000 people were there when one man took 67 hours to circle the globe and come back to it.
History has been made over and over again on the flightline of the Salina Municipal Airport (SLN) in Kansas and now there is a way to ensure it will be there for generations to come thanks to the Wings Over Salina Air Museum.
The Salina Airport Authority, with the help of the Greater Salina Community Foundation, has established two funds to raise the money needed to build and maintain the museum. The authority started a provisional fund with $500 to raise money for planning and construction. Money donated to that fund will go to building the museum structure and monuments to commemorate items of significance in local aviation. An endowment fund to support operations will be seeded with $10,000.
“The foundation is a public charity,” explained Betsy Wearing, president and executive director of the Greater Salina Community Foundation. “All gifts that come to the foundation are tax deductible to the highest extent possible. Donors also have the confidence that their gifts to a fund within the foundation for the museum will be restricted only for the museum.”
Right now, the biggest push is for Smoky Hill Army Airfield and Schilling Air Force Base related materials. The military had a huge presence in Salina in the 1940s through the 1960s, and a near devastating effect on the town when the base closed. Those historic items are proving to be the most difficult to find.
Plans are in works to gather oral histories and memorabilia from the men and women who spent time on any of the bases in the Salina area.
Along with a significant military aviation history, Salina is the boyhood home of former NASA astronaut Steven Hawley. Additionally, SLN made aviation history twice in the mid-2000s. In 2005, Steve Fossett flew the first solo nonstop airplane flight around the world, starting and ending in Salina. Then in 2006, he set the absolute distance over a closed circuit record, landing in Salina. Now, unmanned aerial systems being developed at K-State at Salina are quickly changing the course of history and the future of aviation.
Items related to these nonmilitary related pieces of history are also being sought after by the airport authority. Photos, uniforms, signs, paperwork and newspapers are just a few of the items that are planned to be housed in the museum.
Currently, the south lobby of the M.J. Kennedy Air Terminal Building will play host to many of the items that will find a permanent home in the Wings Over Salina Air Museum.
For more information: 785-823-1800 or SalinaAirport.com