Airshows bring out the fickleness of Mother Nature—it’ll be hot, it’ll be cold, the wind will blow, the humidity will rise, and the rain will be majestic. In Tullahoma, Tennessee, for AOPA’s final regional fly-in of 2015, attendees had it all.
Not that weather should be the story of Tullahoma, an incredible little general aviation airport in the backwoods of Tennessee where Jack Daniel reigns, the politics are conservative, and the hospitality is second to none. This bucolic airport boasts everything America should be—hospitable, innovative, and free.
It’s the home of Beechcraft and an iconic aviation brand, which still reveres the ingenuity of Walter Beech and his indomitable wife Olive Ann. It’s charming in a way the South can be with good hard-working people who are happy to share their home. And it’s a GA airport that is just plain fun to fly in to.
More than 2,500 people came to Tullahoma for AOPA’s final 2015 fly-in, despite a forecast that would have intimidated many a brave-hearted soul. Friday night the rain came in on horseback, pounding the earth like the apocalypse and turning the grass fields into swamps. But while the rain came down, a band made up of some of Nashville’s finest musicians—drummer Paul Leim and singer songwriter Paul Overstreet (both GA pilots) and many others—rocked the house with rock and roll standards at the Barnstormers Party attended by more than 660 people.
Saturday morning the rain still came down but the optimistic souls who know about Mother Nature ventured forth anyway and were eventually rewarded with a beautiful day. By 10 a.m. the skies hummed with incoming aircraft. More than 330 flew in. The 54 campers who braved the night on site woke to freshly brewed coffee from Flying High Coffee Co. and a pancake and sausage breakfast served to more than 600 people by hundreds of local volunteers.
AOPA’s formula for a successful fly-in—great seminars given by aviation experts, a packed exhibition hall with the top aviation vendors, and the camaraderie of aviation enthusiasts sharing stories—was in abundance here. The day seemed to fly by in a mixture of weather changes, events not to be missed, and talk about GA’s future.
AOPA President Mark Baker’s Pilot Town Hall was packed as usual and the hot topic was still third class medical reform. Baker was as relentless as the previous night’s rain had been—he and his association will not give up on the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2. Some 67 U.S. Senators are now co-sponsors of the bill.
AOPA recently released the airports and dates for its 2016 regional fly-ins online. We hope to see you at one of our events next year!