Why Is Wichita Called ICT? (The Real Answer)

why is wichita called ict

Whether you’ve lived in Wichita your whole life or have only visited once, there’s a good chance you’ve wondered what “ICT” actually means. Why do we call our hometown that? And why is it so dang popular?

But don’t you worry. I’ve got the answers—and a brief historical tie-in—below. Now you can wear your monogrammed shirt with pride!

Why Is Wichita Called ICT?

Believe it or not, the answer is rather simple. It’s our airport code!

To clarify, our International Air Transport Association (IATA) code is ICT. We have another code for the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) which is four letters. That second code is KICT, so pretty similar!

Quick aside, our airport, the Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport (previously the Mid-Continent Airport) is actually the biggest in Kansas! Take that Kansas City!

As for why we chose to adopt this nickname, now that’s a whole other question. For some silly reason, we Wichitans decided to take our airport code and turn it into a national branding opportunity. We love monogramming just about everything, and ICT is perfect for that!

So, now Wichita will forever be known as ICT, in part thanks to our airport. But mostly due to our unbridled love for good branding!

Why Is the Airport Called ICT?

This all has to do with the creation of the three-letter airport codes in the early 1900s. At first, all airport codes were only two letters, until boom! The aviation industry outgrew its baby clothes and became a full-grown, worldwide traveler. AKA—there was a huge expansion in the aviation industry in the 1930s.

Suddenly, there were multiple airports in the same city, which meant those two-letter codes wouldn’t cut it anymore. For example, New York City has both LaGuardia and JFK, and they both couldn’t be NYC. Imagine the chaos! Same goes for Chicago with Midway and O’Hare—neither are CHI, and for good reason!

Some of the codes only have the first three letters of the city’s name, such as ATL for Atlanta.  Others could be abbreviations, local references, or historical callbacks. It all depends on the place!

But let’s not forget about the classic filler letters either.  “X” is one of the most famous filler letters—LAX, anyone? But my personal favorite airport code is Panama City’s. Their code is ECP, which they chose to represent Everyone Can Party. How fun is that?

Now, back to ICT. The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) banned U.S. airport codes from beginning with “W” or “K.” Why?  Those are two letters often used for radio stations. So, since Wichita begins with a “W,” we decided to pick ICT, all letters in our name, to represent us instead!

Local’s Use of ICT

You will hear and read “ICT” anywhere and everywhere in Wichita! I always use it when texting to abbreviate Wichita—sometimes, I’ll even use it in regular conversations too! Somehow, it feels so much easier to say “ICT” instead of “Wichita,” even though they have the same number of syllables.

But that’s not all. You’ll also see it everywhere, whether that be on t-shirts, water bottles, or brands all over Wichita. It’s just so beautifully simple—how could you not use it?

I suppose it makes sense that we embrace our airport code so much, considering we are the air capital of the world and all. Speaking of which…

Why Is Wichita the Air Capital of the World?

In the early 1900s, businessmen were searching for the next great hub of the aviation industry. And, lo and behold, that hub was Wichita, Kansas! We are the birthplace of several of the largest and most influential aerospace companies in the world. Why us? Well, our central location and pro-business policies certainly didn’t hurt.

If you’ve ever dropped by Wichita before, I’m sure you’ll have seen the ads and job listings for our air industry. Cessna, Beechcraft, Boeing, Spirit, and several other aircraft manufacturers are all based in Wichita, most of them since their original inception.

The top three major employers in Wichita are all aviation related. Spirit Aerosystems, Textron Aviation, and the McConnell Air Force Base employ a total of 28,029 Wichitans. The aviation industry is truly the lifeblood of ICT.

Of course, we didn’t just get up yesterday and start calling ourselves the Air Capital of the World. The use of that title dates all the way back to 1928, a time when one in every four U.S. airplanes was built in Wichita. 

Of course, since most of us are employed by the aerospace manufacturing industry, we owe much of our city’s prosperity to it. So, it only makes sense that we’d love the nickname ICT so much. A reference to our airport, city name, and the industry that employs most of our people? Count me in!

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it! ICT is the 3-letter code for the Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport, but also the code to my heart.

If you’re trying to stay on brand in Wichita, throw “ICT” into your next text! Or, if you’re feeling loyal to local, pick up a monogrammed shirt from the Workroom to show off around town. I’m 99.8% positive you’ll get a compliment or two!