When insurance salesman Max Zimmerman attended a convention in California in 1978, he went to dinner with his name tag still on. His waitress told him she had never been to Kansas. Max asked what she might expect to see in the state. She replied, “Dorothy’s house,” referring to the classic movie The Wizard of Oz. So upon his return home to Liberal, Kansas, Max and the community worked to bring Dorothy’s house to Liberal. Today, the attraction includes both Dorothy’s House and The Land of Oz.
The lightweight Beechcraft 35 Bonanza civilian airplane, produced post-World War II, was expensive compared to other personal aircraft. Because of the steep price, mostly professionals, like doctors and lawyers, could afford them. The tail, an unusual V shape, was designed to reduce both the weight and drag of the aluminum plane, helping to make it faster than most of its competitors. But unfortunately, the tail design was also attributed to an initial high accident rate. That early Bonanza became known as the “Doctor Killer.” The Beechcraft 35 Bonanza background was just one of many fascinating stories we learned as we wandered the Mid-America Air Museum in Liberal, Kansas. Located on the former Liberal Army Air Field, the museum displays over 100 planes, ranging from small home-built aircraft to large military jets.