Wichita /ËwÉªtÊÉ¨tÉË/ WICH-É-taw is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kansas. According to the 2013 United States Census Bureau estimate, the city population was 385,577. Located in south-central Kansas on the Arkansas River, Wichita is the county seat of Sedgwick County and the principal city of the Wichita metropolitan area. As of 2011, the metro area had a population of 630,721; the Wichita-Winfield combined statistical area (CSA) population was 661,798.
The city was incorporated in 1870, based on the success of businessmen who came to hunt and trade with native populations. Wichita's position on the Chisholm Trail made it a destination for cattle drives heading north to access railroads to eastern markets.
From the early to late 20th century, aircraft pioneers such as Clyde Cessna, "Matty" Laird, Lloyd Stearman Walter Beech, Al Mooney and Bill Lear began aircraft-manufacturing enterprises that would lead to Wichita becoming the nation's leading city in numbers of aircraft produced, and its nicknaming as the Air Capital of the World. The aircraft corporations E. M. Laird Aviation Company (the nation's first successful commercial airplane manufacturer), Travel Air (started by Beech, Stearman and Cessna), Stearman, Cessna, Beechcraft and Mooney were all founded in Wichita between 1920 and early 1932. By 1931, Boeing (of Seattle, Washington) had absorbed Stearman, creating "Boeing-Wichita", which would eventually grow to become Kansas' largest employer.
Today, Cessna Aircraft Co. (the world's highest-volume airplane manufacturer) and Beechcraft remain based in Wichita, along with Learjet and Boeing's chief subassembly supplier, Spirit AeroSystems. Both Airbus and Boeing maintain a workforce in Wichita, and Bombardier (parent company of Learjet) has other divisions in Wichita as well. Over 50 other aviation businesses operate in the Wichita MSA, as well dozens of suppliers and subcontractors to the local aircraft manufacturers. In total, Wichita and its companies have manufactured an estimated 250,000 aircraft since Clyde Cessna's first Wichita-built aircraft in 1916.
In 2007, Wichita built 977 aircraft, ranging from single-engine light aircraft to the world's fastest civilian jet; one-fifth of the civilian aircraft produced in United States that year, plus numerous small military aircraft.
A legacy of the early 20th-Century oil boom in neighboring Butler County, Kansas, Wichita became a major oil town, with dozens of oil exploration companies and support enterprises. Most famous of these was Koch Industries, today a global natural-resources empire, and one of America's two largest privately held companies. still headquartered in Wichita. The city was also at one time the headquarters of the former Derby Oil Company, which was purchased by Coastal Corporation in 1988.