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Innovating Through Times of Difficulty

April 30, 2020

This is not the first time Wichita has experienced difficulty, nor will it be the last. Through all the trials and uncertainties in this city’s history, there is one constant. Wichita does not back down from a challenge – it embraces it. Difficulty allows Wichitans to show the world what they’re really made of: grit, passion and innovation. This city rallies around its people and solves problems without wavering.

  • boeing b29 superfortresses at boeing plant in wichita kansas during wwii from wichita state libraries
  • man working on b29 at boeing airplane company during wwii in wichita, kansas from wichita state libraries
  • stearman aircraft division of boeing airplane company during wwii from wichita state libraries
  • wwii aircraft production at beech aircraft company in wichita kansas from wichita state libraries
  • beech aircraft company during wwii in wichita kansas

Swipe to view more. Photos courtesy of Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum and Wichita State University Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives from the Wichita Photo Archives.

On December 8, 1941 the United States entered World War II and the need for resources overwhelmed the country. Wichitans, the core of the Air Capital of the World, stepped up and built a substantial portion of the military’s aircraft to fight the war, totaling more than 13,000 trainers and B-29s. Local farmers worked overtime to contribute food to the war effort. By 1944, aircraft were taking off or landing every 90 seconds. This region refuses to accept defeat when times are tough.

Research from salutetofreedom.org.

Like it did in the 1940s, the community is rising to the challenge of COVID-19. Local company S and Y Industries ramped up production of ventilator components by more than 2,000 percent to meet intensely growing demand. Bella Bonita Designs – a local fashion company – formed a partnership with makerspace GoCreate to produce face masks and employ women in recovery. Local companies and colleges, including Airbus, Spirit AeroSystems, Textron Aviation, Wichita State and WSU Tech, formed the Ad Astra Coalition to tackle pressing COVID-19 challenges facing the community. Across the region, 3-D printers are creating face shields for hospitals, labs are working toward vaccines and restaurants are donating food to students, healthcare professionals and laid-off workers. The list of residents, businesses and organizations offering community support goes on and on.

Through so many unknowns, one thing is absolutely clear: Wichita has rose to this challenge with the same grit, passion and innovation with no sign of stopping. That’s relentlessly original.