In an area where B-29s used to take off and land and crews trained to man the planes that helped end World War II, a new Pratt Airbase History Walk will lead visitors around the historic Pratt Army Air Field.
The new walking path will be about a mile long with a start and ending point at the B-29 All Veterans Memorial at the Pratt Regional Airport that used to be the Pratt Army Airfield, said Jack McCawley, who presented the idea to the Airport Authority Board of Directors at their regular monthly meeting Thursday in the Municipal Building.
The proposed walkway would not present an easement problem. The proposed sidewalk is on the periphery of future businesses and should not bother any future rental sites, said Reid Bell, Pratt Regional Airport Manager.
The Board voted to create a letter of support for the B-29 Museum Committee to present, along with a grant application, to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism for a walking path grant, McCawley said.
The grant application is due Aug. 1 so the entire idea for the walking path had to be put together quickly to present to the Airport Board.
In addition to the path, approximately 20 signs along the way will describe the structures that used to be at the various locations around the airfield, McCawley said.
While most of the original structures at the airfield are long gone, a few remain including the Norden Bomb Site vaults, the parachute building and the hanger that could house two B-29s that is now occupied by R&R Industries.
A key element of the walking tour is the addition of a new restroom facility that will be located at the base of the airport water tower, just across the street from the B-29 All Veterans Memorial.
The restroom will be precast concrete. The sidewalk will be five feet wide and four inches thick with cast stone benches located at intervals along the walk. Passing areas for wheel chairs will also be featured on the walk, McCawley said.
A couple of locations along the walking path will go past trees that could be locations for picnic tables. A rancher from the Hoss Ranch in Barber County donated and planted the Red Cedar trees at the airfield when it was built so those trees are close to 70 years old.
The estimated cost of the project is $75,000 to $100,000 with the KDWPT grant covering 80 percent of the cost. Matching funds for the project have all ready been pledged.
McCawley said that U.S. 281 is also the American Legion Highway and that it is important to continue developing the historical aspect of the airport as a tribute to all veterans.
The addition of the walking path tour will hopefully be an addition to the community and help bring people to Pratt, McCawley said.