John Kollett has flown and worked on airplanes for more than 50 years.

John Kollett has flown and worked on airplanes for more than 50 years.

Kollett moved from Oklahoma to McPherson at age 19, graduating from McPherson High School in 1957 and from Central Christian College in 1960. Kollett said he took lessons from the McPherson Airport, before CCC even had its own aviation program.

“It’s something I always wanted to do,” he said.

Kollett, co-founder of Butterfly Aviation out of Goodland, and his plane were just one of more than 15 on display during the Central Christian College Aviation Reunion Thursday night.

The reunion celebrated 40 years of pilot training provided by Central Christian College. Aviator alumni and other locals debuted their planes before attendees in celebration of the aviation industry.
The event was free to the public, and a barbecue dinner was available. The pilots were offered the meal for free.

“If there’s one thing that’ll draw pilots in, it’s a free meal,” said Tom Chandler, McPherson Airport manager, with a laugh.

Some local life teams debuted their aircraft as well, including a helicopter out of Hutchinson and a larger plane out of Great Bend. The life teams allowed attendees to climb onto the planes and see how a critical patient is brought onto the plane during an emergency situation.

Jim Hayes, a life team pilot out of Great Bend, said his life team aircraft is kept mission ready.

“It’s neat when we get the call that we can raise the gear in eight minutes,” he said. “It happens fast.”

Hayes has been a pilot for the Great Bend life team for the past year and a half, and said he enjoys getting the opportunity to use his skills as a pilot to help others.

“I love flying, and I get to help people,” he said. “You know, give them a fighting chance.”

Visiting pilots will fly over during the parade festivities on Friday. Alumni will then tour the Kansas Aviation Museum in Wichita that same day and will tour the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson on Saturday.

For more information on Central Christian College’s aviation program, contact its admission office at 1-800-835-0078

Joseph Tuszynski can be reached at, or follow him on Twitter @JoeTSentinel.