McConnell’s very own Keeper

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alexi Bosarge
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. – Team McConnell is welcoming a new member to the team in early 2021. The base’s very own Keeper of the Plains.


The miniature Keeper is being donated by Friends of McConnell, and will be displayed on base. Friends of McConnell is an organization whose goal is to make the base and surrounding communities an Airman’s favorite place to be.


Friends of McConnell are looking for Airmen or any Department of Defense card holders, to submit their design for the new Keeper.


The original Keeper of the Plains is a 44-foot tall sculpture designed by Native American artist Blackbear Bosin in 1974. It is believed to keep a watchful eye on the city from its home at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas rivers in downtown Wichita.


“Through the years, Blackbear Bosin's iconic ‘Keeper of the Plains’ statue has become Wichita's trademark,” said Pat Gallagher, Friends of McConnell director. “The Friends of McConnell is pleased to sponsor this opportunity for the airmen at McConnell AFB to design their own version of the ‘Keeper’ which is fondly called the ‘Keeper of the Planes’ the organization- a special honor granted by Blackbear Bosin's estate some time ago.”


Since then, a public art project called Keeper’s on Parade has been founded by Together Wichita. This project allows local artists to design and paint ten-foot tall Keeper replicas that are displayed throughout Wichita.


“We are looking forward to the Airmen's design competition and the unveiling of the statue, on base, in spring 2021,” said Gallagher. “Let the competition begin!”



Don’t miss this opportunity to leave a lasting impact on McConnell and the community by submitting your Keeper design to the 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affair’s office.


Please email for a template. The finished design can be emailed to the same address. Entries close at the end of October and a winner will be chosen by base leadership.


For ideas and previous Keeper designs visit