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Wichita officials considering airport name change

Published on -3/3/2014, 8:44 AM

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WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- A Wichita City Council vote this week could rename Mid-Continent Airport in honor of the 34th president of the United States, who has been hailed for his advocacy of air power after World War II.

The city's airport naming advisory committee has recommended changing the name to Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport, an idea that sprang up in October when a group called Citizens for Eisenhower Airport presented the City Council with a petition supporting the move.

An affirmative vote by the council at its meeting Tuesday would make that change, The Wichita Eagle (http://bit.ly/1dMGtrb ) reported.

"I think that using the identity of General Eisenhower provides us recognizable branding, more so than the former name," Vice Mayor Pete Meitzner said. "I don't think there's a sense of identity with the current name. It's not a big deal all around, but I think it has the potential for a nice brand for the city."

Eisenhower, who was from Abilene, served as supreme commander of Allied Forces in Europe during World War II before being elected president and serving from 1953 to 1961.

Historian David Nichols of Winfield said he believes Eisenhower is the nation's greatest post-war president.

"His advocacy for air power, tied to McConnell Air Force Base and aircraft production, links his legacy to Wichita," Nichols said. "He is our most exceptional native son. Ike never forgot where he came from; neither should we."

Some members of the airport advisory board are among critics of the plan who say that connection isn't strong enough to warrant using Eisenhower's name.

"The thing I object to is how this thing was rammed down our throats," said John Hennessey, and advisory board member. "They really had to reach deep to find a direct impact on Wichita that Eisenhower had."

City officials estimate out-of-pocket costs to the city for the change would be $141,500 after the naming committee determined the original estimate of almost $750,000 could be cut to $276,850 in essential costs. The airport would pay the difference.

"On a $110 million facility that is basically paid for with FAA funds over 50 years, and through ticket charges and user fees, I don't think $140,000 is something I'm going to be stressed out about," Meitzner said.

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