A formal Nationals Site Review Process was ordered by the IAC Board of Directors at the annual Fall Board meeting in November of 2018 and Bob Freeman was tasked with conducting the process. Bob’s team consisted of Lorrie Penner, IAC Executive Director, IAC Secretary Lynn Bowes, former Director and founding member of Wichita Chapter 119 A.J. Hefel, and Kansas City Chapter 15 members John Morrissey and Linda Meyers-Morrissey.
In January, the Board met by teleconference where Bob presented his findings. In all, forty-four centrally located airports were assessed including previous U.S. Nationals sites, Sherman-Denison, Texas, and Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The Board directed Bob and his team to further explore and personally visit the top three candidates which were Salina, Kansas, Great Bend, Kansas, and Lawrence, Kansas. The team met with airport and city officials at those locations, local fire departments, and convention and visitor bureaus.
On February 15, the IAC Board of Directors met by teleconference to review the detailed report. Following Bob’s presentation and upon the recommendation of his working group, the Board voted unanimously to select Salina, Kansas, as the location for the 2019 U.S. Nationals. The contest dates have been confirmed for Saturday, September 21 through Friday, September 27th.
Bob and the working group cited a number of reasons why the Salina Regional Airport, Salina, Kansas, location came out on top. The former Schilling Air Force Base, Salina Regional Airport has hosted a number of large aviation events including the National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s SAFECON national championships, the U.S. Military Jaded Thunder exercise with over 1300 participants, which joins personnel from the U.S. military, the National Guard, and foreign troops for a two-week operation.
An event the size of the U.S. Nationals which attracts nearly 100 pilots needs a lot of space and Salina provides that in excess with their 606 Hangar, which has 39,000 square feet to house all the contest aircraft and 14,000 square feet of office space for briefings, registration, scoring, conferences, and merchandise sales. The town itself has many hotel options, branded chain accommodations, and a wide variety of national and locally owned restaurants, car rental options, and more.
The U.S. Nationals participants will enjoy nice fall weather in Salina with 65 flyable hours (based on a 5 year average) and an aerobatic box which allows all boundary markers and judges to be on airport property. Of particular importance is that the Salina Airport already has assisted the site review team in finding the optimum location for the aerobatic box and this towered airport will allow simultaneous and uninterrupted contest operation with an active runway.
The survey team believes that Salina, Kansas is a very favorable location with a lot of support and resources willing and capable of hosting Nationals in 2019 and beyond. We are looking forward to a great U.S. Nationals in Salina and hope to see you all there!
IAC members may review the presentation made to the board by going to the member only section under the Governance Docs>Board Meeting Minutes & Documents.