John Travolta appeared at a benefit for the Airline History Museum in 2007. Questions arose about the handling of the money not long after the star left town.
This week's issue of The Pitch describes how the suspicions about Paul Sloan, the museum's former executive director, eventually developed into a prosecution for felony stealing. Before the jig was up, Sloan told the museum's supporters that proceeds from the Travolta event were used to buy aviation-related books and CDs that were distributed to schools.
But later, when Sloan's lies finally began to catch up with him, officials at the museum were unable to get information about the purchase.
In whatever form it took, the transaction draws attention to Sloan's involvement with another Kansas City-area nonprofit.
Sloan said he purchased the books from a company in Michigan called Blue Skies Ideas. According to the Blue Skies Ideas website, the materials were designed by a woman named Susan Arthurs. The site describes Arthurs as a former commercial-airline pilot, air-traffic controller and instructor at the University of Central Missouri.
Sloan and Arthurs apparently know each other. Each has held a leadership position at the Alliance for Epilepsy Research.
Arthurs co-founded the epilepsy group; the disease ended her career as a pilot. She directed and produced a 56-minute film, Epilepsy: The Challenges and Promises of Automated Seizure Control, that premiered last year.
Sloan eventually became president of the Alliance for Epilepsy Research. He has an adult daughter who copes with the disease.
Epilepsy has touched Arthurs' and Sloan's lives in a profound way. The connection that the two share in aviation matters seems murkier.
The museum's point man on the Travolta event, Sloan would later claim that the interactive aviation curriculum was put in the hands of 700 teachers in the Kansas City area. But no one I talked to had seen a book or a CD, and neither Sloan nor Arthurs is talking. Arthurs did not respond to an e-mail or an interview request left with Blue Skies' answering service.
Sloan was forced out at the Airline History Museum in 2009. Last fall, he admitted to stealing $10,000 from the organization. He received probation and was ordered to repay the money.
One of the directors of the Alliance for Epilepsy Research says Sloan is no longer a board member. Dr. Ivan Osorio, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Kansas Medical Center, tells The Pitch through a university spokeswoman that Sloan's conduct was "above reproach" during his time at the alliance.