The Baker Orange

Vinland aviation business offers flight lessons

Story by Hayley Morrical

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Just 5 miles north of Baldwin City lies the historic near-ghost town of Vinland. The small town’s roots lie in abolitionists’ desire to make Kansas a Free State during the Civil War. Between the town’s establishment and modern times, the community has hosted a variety of interesting structures, including a cheese factory, a church ministered by basketball inventor James Naismith, and most recently, Vinland Aerodrome, Inc.

The Vinland Aerodrome has been home to McFarlane Aviation since 1979, when Dave McFarlane bought the airport and moved this aircraft repair and restoration business to its new home. Shortly after the move to Vinland, the McFarlanes were joined by Fred McClenahan and began offering rentals and flight instruction courses.

Then the direction of the business changed and the owners began manufacturing plane parts.

“As the years went by, it became apparent to Dave and Fred that there was a need for improvement in many of the aircraft parts they were installing,” McFarlane Aviation Treasurer Cheryl Kurtz said. “It was difficult to explain to customers why they paid so much for a part that had to be replaced again a few years later.”

While not many Baker students will be shopping for airline parts soon, they are still welcome to take flight classes at the Aerodrome. Kurtz’s advice for students interested in becoming a pilot, for a career or hobby, is just to try it out.

“Contact multiple instructors and ask many questions,” Kurtz said. “See who is the best fit for you. Don’t give up your dreams. If it doesn’t work out now, plan for it later in life.”

While the Vinland flight instructors average approximately 12 students a year, the aviation industry holds something for everyone, according to Kurtz. She said BU students could find possible careers in “accounting, engineering, technical sales/support, marketing/tradeshows, pricing, inventory controls and systems, precision manufacturing, R&D, process development, equipment/process designs, software development/improvements, HR, safety, quality systems, international business and on and on.”

Kurtz added that 20 percent of the company’s sales are exports.

“It is not a new industry, but opportunities for improvements and challenges are limitless,” she said. “With general aviation you meet great people worldwide. ”

Students interested in taking flight classes or inquiring about a summer engineering internship should contact McFarlane Aviation and the Vinland Aerodrome at [email protected]

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