Pilots from around the Southeast United States have been in Tullahoma this weekend for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) fly-in event.
The Tullahoma event, which makes the city the first community in the state to host an AOPA fly-in, is one of five events the groups will hold this year across the nation. Additional fly-ins were held earlier this year in Salinas, California, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Frederick, Maryland and Minneapolis.
Tullahoma Airport Manager Jon Glass said local officials were expecting 600 to 700 planes to arrive in town for the event.
One of the many pilots who flew in for the event was Jared Esselman of Charlestown, West Virginia. He said that had been flying since 2005 and a member of AOPA for 1o years.
“I flew in today,” he said Thursday afternoon. “I knew that this was the last fly-in this year and I wanted to attend it.”
When asked why he was attending the event in Tullahoma, he said it “is a great chance to meet other pilots and a chance to attend seminars and refresh on rules of flying.”
Esselman said that it is also a chance to trade stories with other pilots who were attending the fly-in. He said that the other pilots are interested in the camaraderie.
When asked if he thought Glass’ estimate of planes the number of planes that were expected was accurate, Esselman said that he did.
“Tullahoma is within 500-mile radius and heavily populated region, so there are a lot of pilots who are interested in the aviation field,” the pilot said.
Esselman was planning on camping during the event, as did a number of other pilots, while others opted to stay in area hotels. When asked what he planned to do if it rain, the pilot said that he would get his sleeping bag and sleep under the wing of his airplane. Camping area was provided to those who wanted to camp out at the campgrounds of the Beechcraft Museum.
Those who arrived by Friday were treated to Barnstormer Party that night that featured barbecue, a bonfire and entertainment. On Saturday they were treated to a pancake breakfast and in lunch from Nashville-based food trucks.
During the fly-in, AOPA conducted various seminars for pilots and there were 54 vendors promoting their products at the event.