Building on the popularity and success of its inaugural events, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association will host a fly-in at the Tullahoma Regional Airport and four other airports across the country.
An airshow at Tullahoma is also set for Oct. 10.
Tullahoma Airport manager Jon Glass explained the event’s magnitude.
“This will be held the week before the annual Beechcraft Beach Party,” he stated. “This means that in the first part of October there will be 650 airplanes in the skies over Tullahoma.”
He explained that 500 planes are expected for the AOPA event, and then Oct. 14, 150 are expected for the Beechcraft annual event.
The event will be open to the public and will be free of charge.
Pilots will be taking part in aviation products, service exhibitors, aircraft displays, seminars, activities, food and plenty of fun.
Glass said the seminars and exhibits will be held in the Beechcraft Museum.
AOPA President Mark Baker said it is great to be adding Tullahoma to the organization’s fly-in list.
“The AOPA Fly-Ins were a huge hit with our members in their first year, and we’re thrilled to be able to continue them in 2015,” he said. “With new locations, we’ll be able to meet folks we’ve never met before, support more general aviation airports and continue our mission to build the flying community all across the country.”
In addition to Tullahoma, there will be fly- ins at Salinas Airport in California, Anoka County Blaine Airport in Maine, Colorado Springs Municipal Airport in Colorado and Fredrick Municipal Airport in Maryland.
Karla Smith, Tullahoma Airport Authority board member, said having Tullahoma on the AOPA fly-in list is an upward step for the airport.
“This puts our airport in the same class with airports in St. Louis, Minneapolis and Colorado Springs as far as activities go,” she said.
During 2014, more than 16,000 people attended the AOPA Fly-Ins, which also drew more than 2,800 aircraft.
AOPA received requests from more than 40 airports to host a 2015 FLY-In. Final selections were made based on a combination of location, runway and ramp capacity, facilities, prevailing weather and several other important factors.
Representatives of the organization spent several hours at the Tullahoma Airport last December touring the facility.
“A large number of very nice airports volunteered to host a fly-in,” Baker said. “We appreciate all the wonderful proposals we received and are sorry we couldn’t host an event at every airport that offered.
“While the selection process was not easy, we know our final choices will make it possible for thousands of AOPA members to attend a fly-in near them while enjoying a day of general aviation at a terrific airport.”
“The AOPA people were impressed with the strong support of the community for the airport,” Smith said.
The AOPA Fly-Ins are designed to give anyone the chance to experience the fun, wonder and excitement of general aviation.
And for the first time, each AOPA Fly-In will kick off their respective weekend gatherings with a Friday night social event. Most locations will also offer on field camping.
Glass and Smith said, other than police and fire support, the event will not cost the taxpayers anything.
“This will be bringing people to the local motels and restaurants,” Smith said. Baker echoed Smith’s stance.
“We hope people will make a weekend of it,” he said. “Join us for a great social gathering on a Friday, camp under your wing and spend Saturday soaking in all the camaraderie and fun of a day at the airport with fellow pilots and aviation enthusiasts. I can’t think of a better way to spend the weekend.”
Participants will be able to see, test and buy the latest aviation products and services from exhibitors.
Aircraft displays will feature everything from the newest models rolling off the assembly line to the rarest antiques and most venerable warbirds.
And a variety of seminars and educational opportunities will be offered throughout the day with an expanded slate of speakers on aviation safety, maintenance, flying tips and aircraft ownership.
Attendees will also have the chance to hear directly from Baker during a Pilot Town Hall event and to ask questions and mingle with AOPA staff throughout the day.
Food will be provided to the attendees through various organizations.
For those just venturing into aviation, each AOPA Fly-In will include a learn-to-fly area with information and activities for future pilots.
For pilots who may not have been actively flying, free “rusty pilots” seminars will also be offered at the fly in.
Those who complete a rusty pilots seminar can receive a logbook endorsement for the ground portion of the flight review, making it a great way to return to the skies.
Wade McNabb executive director and curator for the museum, said Tullahoma hosting the AOPA is an extremely welcome occurrence.
“On behalf of the trustees and members of the Beechcraft Heritage Museum, I’m extremely pleased by this announcement,” he said. “The members of the Tullahoma Airport Authority, the City of Tullahoma and our aviation community put forth an exemplary effort in both responding to AOPA’s request for a proposal and hosting their site visit. Glass agreed.
“We look forward to what I know will be an extremely successful event,” he said. “We are honored and excited by this announcement this week.”
The event will be held Oct. 10 at the Tullahoma Regional Airport and promises to be fun for everyone. Wayne Thomas may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
This puts our airport in the same class with airports in St. Louis, Minneapolis and Colorado Springs as far as activities go.
-Karla Smith, Tullahoma Airport Authority board member