It is great to bring a bunch of community representatives together to publicize their communities’ assets and attractions. It would be even better to go see and actually experience those attractions first-hand. That’s the type of thinking which has led to a brand new initiative in 2018. It’s the first-ever Big Kansas Road Trip.
Marci Penner is director of the Kansas Sampler Foundation and founder of the Kansas Explorers club. WenDee Rowe is assistant director. For 28 years, their foundation organized the Kansas Sampler Festival. The purpose of the festival was to provide the public a sample of what there is to see, do, hear, taste, buy, and learn in the state.
What aircraft was the most widely used model for training airplane pilots during World War II? Would you believe, an airplane named for one of the early pioneers of the aviation industry who came from rural Kansas?
In recent weeks we’ve learned about Clyde Cessna and Walter Beech, two of the three men who founded an airplane business in Wichita in 1924. Today we’ll learn about the third of those three: Lloyd Stearman, whose plane, the Stearman Kaydet, was the primary trainer for World War II pilots.
Lloyd Stearman was born in the rural Kiowa County town of Wellsford, Kansas in 1898. Wellsford had been a thriving community but faded away through the decades until it legally disincorporated. Other than the southeast Kansas town of Treece, which disbanded itself due to pollution problems in 2012, Wellsford was the last Kansas town to eliminate its legally incorporated status which it did in 1975. As of the town’s last official census in 1970, Wellsford had an official population of 9 people. Now, that’s rural.
Lloyd Stearman was born at Wellsford and went to school in Harper. While in grade school, he saw his first airplane, piloted by Clyde Cessna.
When a disaster strikes, what do we need? First aid, emergency help, transportation, supplies, and more. Maybe we also need something to lift our spirits, in the way that only a good dog can do. Today we’ll meet a remarkable Kansan whose dog’s role in disaster recovery has taken him into print, across the nation and beyond.
Matt Deighton is an entrepreneur and former volunteer coordinator in Greensburg. Matt has deep roots in rural Kansas. In fact, his great-great-great-uncle founded the town of Dighton, although the spelling was changed by a surveyor. Matt’s mother came from Stafford County and his dad came from the rural community of Rozell, population 176 people. Now, that’s rural.
When Matt’s dad became the Kiowa county road supervisor, the family moved to Greensburg where Matt finished school. He took engineering training and became Lane County engineer before joining some friends in Waco, Texas. Two important things happened in Texas: One, he co-founded a restaurant called Buzzard Billy’s which would become world famous, and two, he found a Dalmatian puppy named Molly.
Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University writes Kansas Profile. The weekly posts highlight individuals or companies in rural Kansas who are making a difference to their community and state.
The Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development is a public / private partnership between Kansas State University and the Huck Boyd Foundation. The mission of the institute is to help rural people help themselves. Learn more at www.huckboydinstitute.org.