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John Glenn Way commemorates pilot who trained at New Century AirCenter in 1942

This afternoon a gathering at the Commemorative Air Force of America Wing at the New Century AirCenter remembered Astronaut John Glenn with the unveiling of a street sign honoring him. The New Century AirCenter originally served as the Olathe Naval Air Station until approximately 50 years ago. During its heyday, the Olathe Naval Air Station offered flight training and activities during both World War II and the Korean War.  Before Glenn became the first astronaut to orbit Earth in 1962, with the world at war in July 1942, it was here that Glenn earned his military wings by training in a two-seater Stearman plane. He trained in the first class at the Olathe Naval Air Station.

“It’s a fitting tribute today to dedicate a street at the New Century AirCenter in honor of John Glenn,” said Vice Chairman of the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners Jim Allen. “It’s also timely two days prior to his birthday that would have occurred on Thursday (July 18). Another historic milestone in the Space Age is being celebrated today with the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Apollo 11 mission and lunar lander. Four days later, it would result in that historic ‘one small step’ by Neil Armstrong to become the first man to walk on the moon.”

With the event being held at the Commemorative Air Force of America Wing, the backdrop was a blue and yellow two-seater Stearman, not unlike the plane used for training when Glenn was on board in 1942.

“We appreciate the Heart of America Wing providing the Stearman plane as part of the county’s street dedication in honoring one of its most famous pilots,” said Sixth District Commissioner Mike Brown.

The transition from wartime uses to peacetime development has redefined what once was a military base for the Prairie Navy to an important public airport and growing industrial complex that has become a vital economic hub in Johnson County.

“In terms of continued economic development, the New Century AirCenter adheres to the idiom: The sky’s the limit in Johnson County’s future,” noted Johnson County Airport Commission Chair Brad Weisenburger.

The sign will be installed Wednesday, July 17 at the intersection just east of Prairie Village Drive and Moonlight Road.

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