Flight International to profile Wichita

WICHITA — A reporter with Flight International, an aviation trade journal based in London, is in Wichita this week to do a spotlight on the aviation cluster here.

Talk has circulated that the story may be an examination of “the demise of Wichita,” which makes writer Stephen Trimble, who is based in Washington, D.C., laugh.

“I can confirm that rumors of my story of the demise of Wichita are greatly exaggerated,” he says. “There’s no real preconceived agenda, to be honest.”

Trimble says his publication regularly does country reports, which focus on the aviation industry in various countries. The United States, he says, is “just too big to have any real context,” so the publication looks at individual clusters.

So how does he find Wichita is faring?

“I’ve been trying to figure that out,” Trimble says.

He’s visiting all the major aircraft companies and a number of subcontractors. Naturally, not everything is rosy with Boeing’s planned departure and Hawker Beechcraft’s uncertain future.

Trimble also is visiting the National Institute for Aviation Research and the National Center for Aviation Training, and he says those programs are offering hope.

“That’s very encouraging.”

In other struggling places he’s visited, Trimble says, “They don’t have this kind of thing.”

The story will come out late next month, just before the National Business Aviation Association annual convention.

“There are some definite bright spots,” Trimble says of Wichita. “The question is where things go from here.”