Marion dedicates new flight center

More than 75 people attended a co-celebration honoring the 65th anniversary of the Kansas Flying Farmers and the dedication of the new Baxter Flight Center at the Marion Municipal Airport May 24.

The new center was built using a $75,000 gift from the Pearl Baxter Estate in her husband?s memory.

According to information presented at the dedication, George and Pearl Baxter were both charter members of the Kansas Flying Farmers.

In the late 1920s, George became fascinated with aviation and as a student at Kansas State Agricultural College, he became acquainted with Eldon Cessna, son of Clyde Cessna.

Alberta Reed Brinkman, Kansas Flying Farmers charter member, also talked about the Baxters and the organization.

She said that in 1933, George took his first flying lesson in a Velie Mono-coup and by 1935 bought a Cessna 403W with a 27-hp engine for $650. The Baxters owned 11 airplanes and had a landing strip and hangar on their farm, she said.

For 47 years, George organized air tours, penny-a-pound flights, soil conservation air tours and spring and fall tours.

He also served several terms as district director, she said.

Celebrating the KFF, Eugene Shore, president of the Inter?national Flying Farmers, Marlene Voth, KFF president and John Jenkinson III, KFF immediate past president, were also present at the dedication and anniversary celebration.

Shore said the KFF is a family organization for agricultural people.

During the next year, the international organization is moving its memorabilia into an old Beachcraft factory in Liberal.

?All the magazines, trophies and many other KFF-related items will be available for viewing soon,? he said. ?Kansas has always had a big part in the IFF.?

As for aviation, Shore said he wanted to dispel rumors that aviation is a kind of hobby.

?Aviation is a $10.5 billion industry,? he said, ?with 23,000 people employed in general aviation.?

It was people like George Baxter, he said, that kept the dream going. ?He loved aviation and farming and that is why we are here to show our respect.?

Some people spoke about their memories of the KFF.

Prior to the dedication and anniversary celebration, a hamburger lunch was provided with strawberries and cupcakes, in Pearl?s memory, for dessert.

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