Jennifer Mannel, left, John Smith, Jim Garcia, Jon McComb, Laura McComb, Don Parsons, Nathan Lyddon, MAAM Executive Director Jim Bert and Air Fair 2010 Chairman and Director Ronda Maxwell stand in front of the Call Aire-9, also called a Quail Commander, a crop duster, that will be featured in the Flying Farmers Exhibit Bert is currently working on. Bert attributes several donations, like the one received Tuesday from the Air Fair 2010 Committee that is pictured with him, with the fact that he will be able to move forward with the project. L&T photo/Jessica Crawford
By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Leader & Times
Mid-America Air Museum Director Jim Bert had an idea. His idea was to tell the story of the American farm family with the common thread of aviation. Bert’s idea is currently moving forward, due to donations and Bert’s diligence and determination regarding the project.
Tuesday morning, members of the 2010 Air Fair Committee met with Bert to present him with its donation to his project. Two checks, one for $200 and another of $5,195 was given to Bert in order to help him with the Flying Farmer’s Exhibit.
“This will bring back many, many returns,” Bert said to Chairman and Director of the 2010 Air Fair Committee Ronda Maxwell. “It will be a wonderful adventure, and this will put us far down the road.”
Bert said he can now travel to Iowa to research the Flying Farmers further. This is something, he said, that is very important to him – and Liberal.
“This has special meaning because it will show Flying Farmers in Iowa that the people of Kansas and the people of Liberal did this kind of thing so that we could preserve the Flying Farmer history,” he said. “It is extremely important.”
Recently, a Flying Farmer from Iowa flew to Liberal with his son to present Bert with a substantial donation to the project. The Air Fair 2010 Committee, he said, has now helped substantially as well.
“I have had several foundations now give help to this project, had a Flying Farmer from Iowa come in and give me $10,000,” he said. “The City of Liberal is allowing me to work on this project, which is a contribution. All of that together and (the 2010 Air Fair Committee donation) is really important.”
Bert gave a brief history of the Flying Farmers and explained why it is so important, as well as pertinent, to the area.
“The Flying Farmers started as an organization in Oklahoma in ’46,” Bert said. “It grew from just a group of interested farmers who happened to fly or were learning to fly into an organization of 11,000. So, now, it is 1,100. If you trace the history of the Flying Farmers, you will kind of trace the American farm family and all of the values and that lifestyle that made America what it is because of agriculture – because that feeds the world.”
Bert came across the idea when Flying Farmers documentation and memorabilia found its way to Liberal within the last several years. He is looking forward to telling the story in Liberal, at MAAM.
“The story is going to have four areas, it is going to feature the farm family, the Flying Farmers, the science of agriculture and crop dusting,” he said. “Several years ago, the Flying Farmers had their headquarters in Wichita. That ended. So, to save that history, several of the members and the then-president saved this stuff that was all going to be disposed of – their records, their memorabilia, all of the history, so to speak. So, they brought it out here.
“It is laying dormant, so in the past year, I have gotten this project underway,” he explained. “So, we are really going to tell the story of agriculture and aviation in it. This is an agricultural community, and this story should be told.”
Bert said a Luscombe Silvaire as well as a Call Aire-9 will be featured in the exhibit. His plans now, he said, are to dig a little further into the history of the Flying Farmers and continue more fundraising.
“We are now going to do fundraising, go to individual Flying Farmer members,” he said. “I did a survey and their average membership is 40.5 years that these people belong to this organization. It is just a different life. It is like everything that you would think of the traditional American farm family, these people embodied. It just so happens that the common thread is aviation running through their agricultural world.
“I will be doing three things, planning this exhibit, I will be going to do histories of the members they pick that they think should have their stories told,” he continued. “I want it to be their story, it is not my story – it is going to be their story. Also, I will be going around and doing fundraising. I need their help to tell their story.”
Maxwell was happy her organization could help Bert with his current endeavor. She said another Air Show will most likely be coming in 2011.
“Another air show is in the works,” she said. “We are looking towards maybe having one annually. But, at the very least, we are going to have one next year.”
Maxwell said the 2010 Air Show Committee is simply a group of people with a goal of preserving and showcasing the quality of life in Liberal.
“Mostly, we are dedicated to promoting quality of life here in Liberal,” she said. “I just think that we are going to be looking at another air show and possibly other types of events. Maybe we can add a little educational quality when we showcase Liberal. We would like to help promote all of Liberal, but we are going to focus on the Air Show for one more year. Then we will look with other things we can do.”
Maxwell invites anyone that would be interested in participating with the planning of future events to call her at 624-6405.
“Anyone that would like to be a part of our committee can call me,” she said. “We would love to have new ideas and new volunteers. They can call me, we would certainly love to have anybody be a part of our group.”
Currently, the following individuals volunteer their time as members of Maxwell’s organization: Bill Lyddon, Don and Nancy Parsons, Nathan Lyddon, Jennifer Mannel, Earl Watt, Chelsee Maxwell, Larry Koochel, John and Sue Smith, Jon and Laura McComb, Jim Garcia, George Rosel, Jim Madden, Mike Brock, Blake Prosser and Doug Brewer.
Maxwell would also like to thank the following sponsors who made the 2010 Air Show a successful, free event: Lyddon Aerocenter, National Beef, First National Bank, Liberal Convention and Tourism, First State Bank of Spearman, LifeTeam, Koochel’s Inc., Community Bank, Conestoga Partners LLC, Madden Oil Company, EOG Resources Inc., Supreme Feeders, EagleMed, Experimental Aircraft Association, Southern Pioneer, Furniture Mart, Terry and Ronda Maxwell, Doug Brewer, T & R Tower and Power, LLC, Dr. Ray and Nancy Allen, Cattle Empire, LLC, Sam’s Salvage, Southwest Family Farms, Jim and Tish Madden, Ken Johnson, Earles Engineering & Inspection, Jennifer Mannel, Liberal Office Machines, J and R Sand Company, Jason Vaughn, Tom Talley Trucking, John T. Smith & Associates, Tim Patterson, Dan and Charlene Plett and C. R. Wilson.
“We would like to thank everyone who made the Air Fair 2010 possible – the volunteers, the sponsors, the advertisers and most of all, you, the spectators,” Maxwell said. “In our minds, everyone is so equally important. As far as they are concerned, the equality of how important everybody is cannot even be understated. The volunteers, the sponsors, the advertisers – everyone was equally important to us in this venture.”