Back when Cessna used to invite the public in for tours of its plant in Wichita, Kan., and security was pretty loose, I got an unofficial after-hours tour from my sister. She worked there then, testing for flaws in the metal that was used to build Cessna Citations and other aircraft in a sprawling plant out by the Wichita airport.
Cessna is arguably Wichita's biggest corporate citizen. Clyde Cessna founded the company in 1927, but he had been working on aircraft in Wichita for years before that. He built and flew his first airplane, a Silverwing, in 1911. By the late 1920s, Wichita had nearly 100 aircraft-related businesses and promoted itself as ''Air Capital of the World'' with tours and air shows.
Today Cessna employs more than 10,000 workers, making it the city's largest employer. Hawker Beechcraft, Bombadier Aerospace, Spirit Aerosystems and Boeing also have Wichita plants.
Cessna halted public tours for security reasons after Sept. 11, 2001. But if you're interested in the city's aviation history, Exploration Place (www.exploration.org), Wichita's science museum, has a permanent exhibit, Exploring Flight and Design, and the Kansas Aviation Museum (www.kansasaviationmuseum.org) has about 40 historically significant aircraft on display in Wichita on the edge of McConnell Air Force Base.
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This is one in a series of postcards by Marjie Lambert, assistant Travel editor, who has been to all 50 states.