Admiral Windwagon Smith XLI
Ron Ryan, retired owner and president of Ryan International Airlines, has been a resident of Wichita for 46 years and is a longtime supporter of Riverfest and its parent organization, Wichita Festivals, Inc. A frequent sponsor of the Sundown Parade, Ryan also served as the honorary chair of the Kansas Flight Festival.
As Admiral Windwagon Smith XLI, Ryan will serve as the official ambassador of Riverfest 2013 by visiting children in local hospitals, speaking on behalf of Riverfest at Wichita civic organizations and, of course, helping host dozens of events throughout the nine days of Riverfest, May 30-June 7, 2014.
“Ron is going to be an amazing Admiral,” said Mary Beth Jarvis, president and CEO of WFI. “He is not only an energetic and inspiring business leader, he has been a thorough and tireless supporter of our events over the years. We couldn’t ask for a better advocate for our community and this great event that brings us all together each year.”
“I feel extremely lucky and privileged and an awesome sense of responsibility, as Riverfest is such an important event in our community,” Ryan said. “An outstanding reputation of service has been established by previous Admirals and that presents a welcome challenge for me, as well as for future Admirals. I look forward to meeting lots of kids of all ages, and trust that the 2014 festival will bring good memories for many people—especially families. There is no better bargain in the world than a Riverfest button.”
The festival’s 41th Admiral Windwagon Smith, Ryan has been a member of the Wichita Wagonmasters for 27 years and is active in many other Wichita community organizations, including Midian Shrine, Kansas Food Bank Warehouse, Boy Scouts of America, Friends of McConnell Air Force Base, Downtown Rotary, Confederate Air Force, Junior Achievement of Wichita and many others.
He has served on the board of directors for the Wichita Area Chamber of Commerce, Kansas Aviation Museum, Wichita Convention & Visitors Bureau, Kansas Newman College, Greater Wichita YMCA, St. Francis Regional Medical Center, Wichita Aeronautical History Association, The Downtown Redevelopment Commission, and Wichita Airport Authority, among others. Ryan is the recipient of the Wichita Area Chamber of Commerce Over the Years Award, the Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame Governor’s Award and Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
One of seven children, Ryan has three sons, six grandchildren and three great grandchildren. He has been married to Renae Ryan since 1989. An avid pilot, he is a certified flight instructor, holds a First-Class Airman Medical Certificate and has flown more than 20,000 hours.
Admiral XL “At a Glance”
• Born Jan. 17, 1939.
• Earned certification as a tool and die engineer at Western Electric in Kansas City, Mo.
• Moved to Wichita in 1968 to serve as Chief Pilot for Jack DeBoer Associates, Inc.
• Attended the first Wichitennial celebration, the event that grew to become Riverfest.
• Launched Ryan Aviation Corporation with George Ablah in 1974.
• Started flying large transport aircraft and changed the name of his company to Ryan International Airlines.
• Wichita Wagonmaster since 1987
• Married to Renae Ryan since 1989
• An avid pilot with more than 20,000 flight hours to his credit, Ryan has flown numerous types of corporate aircraft and commercial airliners.
• In addition to flying, Ryan enjoys power boating and riding his motorcycle.
• Ron and Renae are dedicated Shocker basketball fans and love to travel together.