Wichita, KS is home to Learjet, Cessna, Beechcraft, Textron Aviation, Hawker, Spirit AeroSystems, Boeing, Airbus and more. Now, it’s also home to the state-of-the-art Wichita Airport terminal that features architecture, art and an in-line play area that make travel not only easier, but uplifting!
According to Victor White, Director of Airports and CEO of the Wichita Airport Authority, Wichita is known as the “air capital of the world” because more airplanes have been built there than anywhere else on the planet: over 300,000 since the 1920s; the next closest competitor can only claim 30,000 planes.
Therefore, when it came time to replace the city’s 60-year-old, red brick terminal, leaders sought to honor that history as they also provided an uplifting flying experience for young and old.
“We’ve recaptured the glamour of flying!” says White, who says that the very architecture of the new Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport building is reminiscent of airplane design: the ceiling in the ticketing area looks like the inside of an airplane, the floor throughout the terminal looks like it has airplane contrails running through it with brass lines that squiggle across the floor, and the roof is curved like an airplane wing.
“We also did an international search for a signature art piece and commissioned a 330-foot-long glass sculpture that is reminiscent of an airplane wing made out of glass,” says White.
From the very early stages of planning the new terminal, White says that the Wichita Airport Authority wanted to include a play area for children.
“We never had a play area in the old terminal,” he says. “From day one, we told the architect we wanted to reserve a place in the gate area, not in the pre-security area, because people hang out there the longest.”
Unlike other airports, however, Wichita’s play area is not in the center of the walkway. Instead, they placed their play area in an in-line space normally reserved for retail or concessions. White says that decision was actually inspired by parent needs.
“We preserved that space for a play area all along,” he says. “There are food shops and family restrooms right next to it so that parents have everything they need in one area. A restaurant manager told me that the parents sometimes have a beer or a glass of wine while their children play. I think we’ve made a lot of parents happier travelers!”
Wichita Airport officials also chose to include PLAY ME powered by PLAYTIME. PLAY ME is a state-of-the-art, interactive video game console with a screen that supports high-definition, three-dimensional (HD/3D) play. PLAY ME game consoles complement PLAYTIME’s soft play areas by enabling family-friendly businesses to entertain children of all ages.
The play area is sponsored by Tanganyika Wildlife Park. Because of their sponsorship, the play area boasts a jungle theme, complete with a giant hippo, giraffe and rhino. The play area was designed, manufactured and installed by PLAYTIME.
“We were really excited to enter into a partnership with PLAYTIME,” says White. “They did an amazing job in design and construction and I would certainly recommend them to others.”
White adds, “A lot of airports have play areas but I’m not too humble to say ours is the best one I’ve seen!”