1 Vision Success to Fill Big Bertha
Big Bertha’s imposing presence on the north end of the Salina Regional Airport, gave Jim Sponder a desire to someday fill it with mechanics and large jets.
“First time I saw it, driving by, I thought there was gonna be a 1 Vision (Aviation) sign on it,” said Sponder, president and CEO of Salina Regional Airport’s newest tenant.
“I said to myself, ‘Self, we’re gonna be in this hangar.’ I put a lot of work in hangars. I sleep in hangars,” he said Oct. 25 during 1 Vision’s ribbon cutting ceremony.
His first glimpse of the 129,733-square-foot building — officially named Hangar H959 — was three years ago. It launched the process of expanding his Sioux City, Iowa-based aircraft maintenance firm to the Salina airport.
“It was the size of the hangar,” Sponder said before taking the microphone at 1 Vision’s October 25 ribbon cutting. The company opened Sept. 1, in Salina, and continues to operate in Sioux City, in a hangar one-fourth the size of Big Bertha/Hangar H959. The company also employs 50 there.
Salina being situated in the middle of the nation, was also a plus.
“I have customers on the east and west coasts, and they enjoy the central location,” Sponder said.
On the day following the ribbon cutting, the boss announced the arrival of a customer from far, far away.
“We just had a plane fly all the way from Argentina for us to work on it,” Sponder said.
Salina’s economic development contingent — the City of Salina, Saline County, Salina Airport Authority, Salina Area Chamber of Commerce and the Salina Community Economic Development Organization — “rolled out the red carpet the first time I met them, Sponder said. “They really made this happen.”
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, played a role in the process as well, by personally giving Sponder a call early on, and he was at the podium in person in Big Bertha during the late October ceremony — dwarfed by a big jetliners under inspection nearby — to welcome Sponder and his growing team.
“This is a wonderful place to live and work and commit yourself to a quality of life. You have made a great decision,” Moran said. “Your company’s growth is something we will work to make sure happens. We will do everything we can to pursue success with you.”
Nearly 50 workers, most of them airframe and power plant mechanics, are employed at 1 Vision’s Salina plant, doing maintenance, repairs and upgrades to larger jet aircraft.
Company leaders are expecting demand to materialize and the 1 Vision roster to grow to 450 workers by 2022, earning pay that averages $25 an hour.
Projections are panning out so far, Sponder said at the ribbon cutting.
“The phone has been (ringing) off the hook since I opened these doors,” Sponder said. “I don’t like to say ‘no,’ but I’ve had to a few times.”
He’s hiring right now and getting the desired applications from licensed A&P mechanics.
“We’re hitting up military guys and guys I’ve known in aviation,” he said. “They’ll be here shortly.”
The armed forces is a source for workers, Sponder said, but there are steps involved.
“The military will train you how to work on planes, but won’t give you a license,” he said. “They come in with experience. We evaluate them and help them get a license.”
Included in the plans for hiring a workforce, as the need arises, is the nearby Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus.
“We’ve talked to K-State Polytechnic. A lot of students are going there to get their license, and are working here,” Sponder said. “The school can teach them book stuff. We can teach them what they’re going to do.”
The university is eager to welcome 1 Vision to Salina, said Alysia Starkey, CEO and dean at K-State Poly.
“Universities have a responsibility to help drive economic development in the communities in which they serve,” she said. “Industry partners such as 1 Vision not only expand our potential to offer education and training for community members wanting to seek a career in aviation, but it also provides a pathway to keep students in Salina after graduation as active contributors to the local economy.”
Speaking to well more than 150 invited guests and members of the media, Tim Rogers, executive director of the Salina Airport Authority, said he’s been “thoroughly impressed” by the new Salina business and its leader.
“Jim Sponder is a guy who can get things done,” Rogers said. “His reputation in the airline industry is impeccable.”
Customer Bobby Kuruscai concurred.
“Jimmy and his crew are amazing,” said Kuruscai, of Indianapolis, tech ops representative for Endeavor Air, a commercial airline from Minneapolis, Minn. He is in Salina overseeing “conformity checks” on a pair of CRJ 700 commercial jets.
Endeavor is a subsidiary of Delta Airlines, Kuruscai said, and the work was “contracted out” to 1 Vision. Endeavor operates as Delta Connection across the nation.
“We’ve been working with (1 Vision) since last year,” he said, praising Sponder’s work ethic “and dedication to deliver a quality product.”
Roughly a week into his employment with 1 Vision, A&P mechanic Jon Carver, of Salina, paused to express his appreciation for the opportunity.
“This is an amazing place to work. I’m glad they came here,” Carver said. “It’s really good money and they treat everybody well.”
He was then beckoned by a co-worker to join him in eating a piece of special cake served at the ribbon cutting.
Sponder is so eager to serve customers that he included his mobile phone number on the 1 Vision sign.
Sponder was flanked by his wife, Robyne; daughter, Allison, a student at Iowa State University; and son Jack. Their older children, Justine and Jacob, were unable to attend.
“I’m excited to be here. We just sold our house in Iowa and we’re looking for a house here,” Jim Sponder said.
Calling Salina “the busiest little town in America, Dr. Trent Davis, the mayor, said he has “to go to work on Monday to get a rest.”
He was honored to welcome Sponder and his team to Salina.
“I feel like a little kid in a toy store,” Davis said as he peered over jets in the hangar.
“I’ll probably be flying in one of these someday,” he said.
Davis challenged 1 Vision workers “to embrace the community, and for the community to embrace them.”
A number of local officials and dignitaries attend to witness the ribbon cutting and welcome the new employer.
“I’m so excited about the things happening in Salina right now,” said Jane Gates, executive director of the Stiefel Theatre, 151 S. Santa Fe, and a member of the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors.
“Everything feels like it’s working so well. I’m excited about (1 Vision) and proud of the work the airport authority and the city have done to bring them here,” she said.
Among the hopes is that 1 Vision’s hiring goals are met, and it creates a “ripple effect” in Salina, Gates said.
Mayor Davis added that he was “hoping for satellite businesses,” when 1 Vision’s influence is felt.
“I hope this is the beginning of many other businesses like this coming to town,” Gates said. “It’s just a wonderful time to live in Salina.”
As for 1 Vision, Sponder said, “It’s up to us to make it. I know we’re gonna make it. We’re gonna make it happen.”
1 Vision gives K-State Poly Students Part-Time Work
Classroom experience is a must, but practical application is priceless as well, said Andrew Smith, professor of aviation at Kansas State University Polytechnic.
Having 1 Vision Aviation just north of campus is an opportunity for aviation program students. At least six landed part-time jobs with 1 Vision. Several more in the professional pilot students are also employed there, Smith said.
“To have an industry partner at Salina Regional Airport, who hires students on a part-time basis, is fantastic for us,” he said.
K-State has been involved in A&P education since 1966.
Working at 1 Vision “reinforces our education and makes what we learn a little better,” said Johnathan Bates, sophomore from Plano, Texas.
“The small, minor details that we put in in class are really put forth at work. You learn hands-on at work, but you learn the same stuff in class as you do there,” said Jalen Krupp, sophomore from Atwood.
Both are in the aviation maintenance program.
Greetings and Happy Halloween from the Tower!
Alex Gall is our newest addition to the staff. He started work on 10/7 and is doing well with the initial qualification training. Alex is a Marine and spent most of his time at Miramar.
We have enjoyed all the events over the last several months. Thanks to Kenny and David for their hard work and excellent coordination with the tower, and helping to make it all happen safely and without incident.
This time of year weather conditions can deteriorate rapidly, with snow reducing visibility to less than basic VFR. A reminder, the tower can’t solicit Special VFR (SVFR). It must be requested by the pilot, and the Class Delta must be released from ZKC, before a SVFR clearance can be issued. Basically, it’s one-in and one-out. Unless it’s an emergency situation, IFR traffic has priority over SVFR traffic. Just something to think about.
Air Traffic Manager
Salina (SLN) FCT
Salina Records Big Hit Among U.S.Aerobatic Championships Competitors; 2020 Return Likely
Reminiscing nine days in late September, marveling at skills exhibited by some of the best pilots around, supplied Mike Heuer with rich memories of his first visit to Salina.
“I think it was excellent,” he said of the National Aerobatic Championships Sept. 19 through 27. The former contest pilot from Memphis, Heuer chaired the contest jury for the International Aerobatic Club’s event at Salina Regional Airport, that attracted some 90 pilots from New Hampshire to California.
The U.S. National Unlimited Aerobatic Championship went to Rob Holland of New Hampshire, his ninth title.
“I’ve been to all of (the national competitions) over 50 years. This one really turned out well,” he said. “Cooperation of the local people was outstanding.”
IAC President Robert Armstrong, of Athens, Ga., stopped short of guaranteeing a return to Salina Regional Airport for the IAC’s 50th anniversary in 2020. Club officials plan a visit with community leaders, to “negotiate” for a return.
“I would say there is an extremely good chance. It’s not my personal decision. It’s the board’s,” Armstrong said. “We don’t have any reason not to go back to Salina.”
The location advantage was obvious, Heuer said.
“The slogan was, ‘The Center of it All.’ I thought that was pretty appropriate,” he said. “It gave an equal shot as far as geography is concerned.”
Weather cooperated, Armstrong said. The open house in and around Hangar 606, contest headquarters, brought several busloads of schoolchildren. Heuer praised the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce and Visit Salina.
“No disparaging remarks were made at all. Everybody was happy,” Armstrong said.
“Everything (Salina officials) said they could do, they did.”
All of the contest aircraft were stored inside of hangar H600 at the airport.
“It was all located in one spot instead of spread out all over the airport. That was unique. You can’t do those things everywhere,” Heuer said. “All (pilots) flew what they were programmed to fly.”
Some pilots prepared all year for the U.S. nationals, Armstrong said, and others only competed at Salina. There were two major divisions — powered and glider. Top finishers in the advanced category will form a team that will compete in the world competition. Those who finish atop the unlimited category next year will form the U.S. world team. Teams rotate from those categories every other year.
Complete results can be found at
. Click on the “nationals” tab.
The event was not billed as an airshow. Spectators were allowed in certain areas, at no charge.
“We were not organized like an airshow. We didn’t sell tickets and print billboards,” Armstrong said. “We are not putting on a show for the crowd. We are trying to fly with precision in front of judges.”
A past national champion, Armstrong has competed since the 1980s. He works as a corporate pilot.
“Being (IAC) president takes a lot of my extra time,” Armstrong said, “and this working for a living is getting in the way of my fun.”
Pilot enjoyment was among the outcomes achieved in Salina, he said.
The event injected more $150,000 into the local economy, said Jo Ann McClure, convention sales manager for Visit Salina, adding that she is “very hopeful” that the event returns next year.
“We will no doubt come back,” Heuer said. “Why would we give up such a good thing?”
Armstrong expects a board decision on the 2020 site by mid-November.
Let's Get Real
Kansas is among the country’s leaders in convincing citizens to comply with Real ID legislation.
The deadline isn’t until Oct. 1, 2020, but folks age 18 and older who are aiming to travel on commercial airlines, should be working on having the necessary identification, said Jay Brainard, of Wichita, federal security director for the Transportation Security Administration in Kansas.
That gold star on approved driver licenses is the “most recognized” way to comply with the 2015 Real ID Act, he said.
The federal legislation raised standards for driver licenses and other forms of identification, aimed at curbing terrorism.
“There is a higher burden on the individual to provide citizenship,” Brainard said.
A REAL ID is necessary to enter federal facilities, nuclear power plants and board federally regulated commercial aircraft, according to Homeland Security. Exceptions are post offices or Social Security offices.
“Whether or not Kansans have Real ID on their driver license does not affect their ability to vote,” added Katie Koupal, deputy assistant Kansas Secretary of State.
REAL ID is not a factor in buying a ticket to fly on United Airlines out of Salina to Denver and Chicago, said Wes Horrocks, spokesman for SkyWest Airlines, which operates the United service.
ID issues “really apply more on the TSA side,” he said. “Often you will input personal information when purchasing a ticket, but it’s not on the airline to confirm you have the right kind of identification.”
To board a plane, TSA agents at M.J. Kennedy Air Terminal at Salina Regional Airport — and others — require that you show one of the IDs (driver license, State of Kansas ID, military ID, U.S. passport, certified copy of a birth certificate, employment authorization, permanent resident card, foreign passport with an approved Form I-94, and proof of your Social Security number, according to TSA) “something with a gold star on it,” Brainard said. “It has to match up with the boarding pass.”
REAL ID is “not a required credential,” according to the Kansas Department of Revenue, but it will expedite boarding airplanes regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration or entering federally protected buildings. Otherwise, you must bring other documentation to prove “lawful presence,” said Zach Fletcher, spokesman for the Kansas Department of Revenue — the driver’s license bureau in the Division of Vehicles, is part of the Revenue department.
Other documents might include a state-issued birth certificate, Social Security card, utility bill, vehicle registration — and other options — anything to prove who you are.
To find out the status on your driver’s license, visit
, and click on the “status check” button. If you do not have the upgrade, visit a driver’s license office. Salina’s DL examiner office is at 2910 Arnold in the Salina Airport Industrial Center. Phone number is 825-0321 and hours are 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday.
See the checklist for the documents to bring. Checklists are also available at examiner’s offices or online.
While other states, among them Oklahoma, are lagging, Kansas began requesting documents on the legislation in 2010 and started issuing gold-starred licenses in August 2017, Fletcher said.
“We kind of set the pace and got a jump on some of the surrounding states in getting these (licenses) issued,” he said.
Feedback from Kansas lawmakers has been “primarily positive,” said Ethan Spurling, legislative liaison, who “bridges the gap” between the Revenue department and the statehouse.
Of the state’s 2.3 million total adult citizens with driver’s license and-or state ID cards on file, 390,671 have opted not to seek the gold star, Fletcher said, and 1.1 million — 49 percent as of Oct. 22 — either had documentation on file with the state, or they already received the gold star on their driver’s licenses or state IDs.
“Our goal is to reach 70 to 80 percent REAL ID compliance by the deadline,” he said.
“Hopefully no one gets grounded at the airport during the 2020 holiday season.”
Proving who you are is admittedly “more difficult”? for some, Fletcher said, such as a married woman who took her husband’s last name.
“Your name should be the same across the board for proof of lawful presence,” he said. “If your name is different, you need a marriage certificate, divorce decree, adoption certification, any court ordered or legal name change documents.”
For example, if you’re born Tom Jones and after adoption your name changes to Tom Smith, “you have to show the difference between lawful presence and what you provide for proof of name change,” Fletcher said.
Brainard anticipates no problems with the REAL ID changes in Kansas, or with the flourishing commercial air service at Salina Regional Airport.
“The airport’s growing, thriving, and exceeding everybody’s expectations, and we’ve got plenty of staff,” he said, praising Tim Rogers, executive director of the Salina Airport Authority, and his staff.
“It’s just a blessing to be in Salina,” Brainard said. “It’s a privilege.”
What Documents do I Need to Bring to Receive a Real ID?
1.) You will need to provide proof of lawful presence.
from the list below:
- State Issued Birth Certificate
- Unexpired Permanent Resident Card
- Unexpired Employment Authorization Card
- Naturalization Certificate
- Consular Report of Birth Abroad (FS-240)
2.) You must provide proof of your Social Security Number.
document from the list below:
- Current W-2 or 1099 showing full Social Security Number
- Current pay stub showing full Social Security Number
proofs of current Kansas residential address. Proof must be dated within the last year.
Junk mail or personal letters will not be accepted.
The following are examples of documents that can be used to prove Kansas residency:
- Financial Institution Documents (Bank Statement, Deed, or Mortgage)
4.) If your name is different than documents in number one above, (due to adoption, marriage, divorce, court ordered name change, or is not the same on all of your documents) you
provide proof of the name change.
The following are a few documents that will be accepted to prove a legal name change:
- Certified State Issued Marriage Certificate
- Court Ordered Divorce Decree
- Any Court Ordered or Legal Name Change Documents
PLEASE NOTE: DOCUMENTS PRESENTED MUST BE ORIGINAL OR CERTIFIED COPIES.
To learn more:
Salina Travel Agent:
Book Early for the Best Schedule and Fare
Those planning to fly for the holidays had better move forward fast, warned Luci Larson.
The co-owner of Action Travel 116 S. Seventh, said it may be too late to get the best deals, but with some work, there may still be some lingering out there. In general, expect higher prices and less availability.
“If you’re going for the holidays, you should have already looked into those reservations,” she said. “We always tell people that as soon as Labor Day passes, Thanksgiving and Christmas are the next major holidays that people are thinking about.”
Travel agents are “busy tight right now,” Larson said, but they are booking for early 2020, such as spring break.
“For the future, start looking in early September for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s break,” she said. “I know people see in the news and hear it on the radio that there are some bargains out there for holiday travel, and yes there are, but you have to be willing to be flexible.”
Leftover deals might be to less popular destinations, Larson said, and the hours of departure and arrival may not be optimal.
“You’ve got to give and take a little to get those promotions,” she said. “Sooner is better. That’s the moral of the story.”
Larson throws in a Part Two.
“OK, so you’ve got that airline ticket, and you did or did not get a bargain,” she said. “The next thing to expect is that holiday travel is very busy.”
If your routine is to arrive an hour early at the airport, double it, to account for any number of delays, just from the standpoint of larger crowds, traffic (packed parking lots), and stress.
“More people are traveling. There are more screenings,” Larson said. “Some people bite the bullet and pay an extra fee for more luggage. If they travel with a backpack, a carry-on (suitcase or bag) and two extra suitcases filled with gifts, you’ve got to allow for that.”
Speaking of gifts, she advises waiting until you arrive before wrapping them.
“If a (Transportation Security Administration) operator doesn’t like what he sees in that gift wrapped box (when it’s X-rayed), he’s gonna make you unwrap it,” Larson said. “I would not wrap any gifts.”
Another option is to ship packages prior to your flight, she said, but that may not always work.
“If they really want to get a jumpstart,” Larson said, “right now is the ideal time to be planning your holiday travel for 2020.”
On the Flightline at America's Fuel Stop
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