AIR TRAF­FIC TOWER CLOSES

The Wichita Eagle - - Front Page - BY CAR­RIE RENGERS [email protected]­chi­taea­gle.com

Dam­age from a panel of glass prompted the city to tem­po­rar­ily close the 1935 tower at the Kansas Avi­a­tion Mu­seum.

The high­est point in Sedg­wick County that the av­er­age Wi­chi­tan has ac­cess to is off lim­its for now, and it may be for some time.

A panel of glass slid down in the frame of the tower at the Kansas Avi­a­tion Mu­seum, which prompted the city to close the 1935 tower.

“Which, of course, is an un­for­tu­nate turn of events for ev­ery­one,” says Teresa Day, in­terim ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the mu­seum.

The tower was the air traf­fic con­trol tower of the for­mer Wi­chita Mu­nic­i­pal Air­port – the city’s first com­mer­cial air­port.

The ground it sits on helped make it the high­est point in Sedg­wick County un­til a new tower at McCon­nell Air Force Base next door sur­passed it.

The mu­seum tower is still the tallest one that non­mil­i­tary peo­ple can visit, and Day says it’s one of the most pop­u­lar fea­tures at the mu­seum.

“We ob­vi­ously are very anx­ious to get it fixed.”

John D’An­gelo says the city is, too.

“The city will make the re­pairs,” says the man­ager of the Di­vi­sion of Arts & Cul­tural Ser­vices. “We rec­og­nize the im­por­tance of the tower, and we want to get it fixed.”

Ini­tially, D’An­gelo didn’t think the re­pairs would hap­pen un­til as late as the se­cond quar­ter of 2019.

Now, though, he says they’re un­der­way and “should be com­plete after the first of the year.”

The cost is es­ti­mated to be $50,000.

In what Day calls “an over­abun­dance of safety,” the city also has closed the area be­low the tower in case any glass falls. That hap­pens to be the hand­i­cap en­trance, so now the hand­i­cap park­ing has been re­lo­cated to a tem­po­rary space in the mid­dle of the mu­seum’s park­ing lot.

“It looks aw­ful,” Day says.

Mostly, though, she says she and mu­seum guests just want the tower back.

“Hav­ing our tower open is re­ally a great thing.”

ACE IS THE PLACE

Last week, Have You Heard? re­ported that Greg and Sheila Paul are mov­ing their Ace Hard­ware from in front of the for­mer Wi­chita Mall to much-larger space near the cor­ner of Harry and Wood­lawn.

Greg Paul men­tioned that their store is the last in­de­pen­dent Ace store in the Wi­chita area.

To clar­ify, the Pauls have the last in­de­pen­dent Ace in Wi­chita, but there are a few oth­ers in sur­round­ing ar­eas, such as God­dard, Maize and Au­gusta.

“We are still out here,” says Russ Lowen, who opened the God­dard Ace store in April 2017.

Not only that, he says, but he’s look­ing to ex­pand with more stores and is al­ready work­ing with Ace to iden­tify where makes sense.

“It’s a grow­ing mar­ket, and there’s busi­ness op­por­tu­nity, and we plan on be­ing part of it.”

File photo

This 1945 pho­to­graph shows the air traf­fic con­trol tower of the for­mer Wi­chita Mu­nic­i­pal Air­port, which is now the Kansas Avi­a­tion Mu­seum. A panel of glass slipped in the frame of the tower, which is now closed un­til it can be fixed.

File photo

The 1935 tower, pic­tured in 1945, is one of the most pop­u­lar fea­tures at the mu­seum. Wi­chita Mu­nic­i­pal Air­port was the city’s first com­mer­cial air­port.

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