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Mid Continent Aircraft Corporation
By Ralph McCormick
Where in the world is Hayti (pronounced Hay-Tie), Missouri? If you get a map out and look to the lower southeast part of Missouri, commonly know as the “Boot Heel.” Look real hard you will see the town of Hayti. The small town is located in an agriculture area.
One of America’s longest operating successful aviation businesses flies out of Hayti.Mid-Continent Aircraft Corporation, which was started in 1949 by Dick Reade, continues to be owned and operated by him.
Dick Reade graduated from Iowa State University. He joined the Army Air Corp, during WW II, as a combat pilot in P-38’s in the Pacific. Reade was the first president of National Agriculture Aviation Association and now serves on the Board of Directors of the Mississippi Museum of Agriculture. He flies around 140 hours per year even with the responsibilities of managing the complex aviation industry he has built.
The Hayti location chosen in 1949 is still the location of Mid-Continent Aircraft Corporation. The interstate runs along the 3,400-foot sod runway. Obviously, Mid Continent was there long before the Interstate came into being. Mid-Continent’s strip in Hayti is one of the few privately owned commercial airprtts.
The emphasis in the early days was on agricultural aviation. In early years, the company was basically an Ag flying company. In 1959, they started selling Ag Cats and moving on to personal aircraft in later years. The new sales business created a supply of used Stearmans. What to do with them was the next question? Thus, in 1963, came the business of refurbishment of the old used Stearmans. This was a ground-up restoration including new wood. The rebuilding of Stearmans gave them worldwide recognition. A Stearman was built at Mid-Continent for the popular sixties actor, Steve McQueen.
Mid-Continent Aircraft Corporation had Ag operations in Canada, Minnesota, Dakota, Washington, Arizona, and Mississippi. As times changes, the Ag business was consolidated into one location at Parkin, Arkansas. Dennie Stokes is the manager. Several states are covered from the Parkin branch of Mid-Continent Aviation. In 1993, they became a Cessna Service Center, later becoming a Cessna Distributor for Arkansas, Southern Missouri, West Tennessee, and West Kentucky. This was their segue into general aviation. They sell Cessna, agricultural aircraft and parts worldwide.
Not to be slowed down, the natural turn was to move into the insurance brokerage business. Today they are one of the largest agricultural and personal aircraft aviation insurance agencies in the USA.
Mid-Continent also has an FAA approved maintenance and repair station in Hayti. They keep a large parts warehouse in south Louisiana. Parkin, Arkansas, is the headquarters.
Editor’s Note: Mid-Continent has been an advertiser in FLY-LOW since the first issue over twelve years ago.