THE BEECHCRAFT Heritage Museum – a local aviation museum – has held one of the country’s most notable and historic fly-in conventions since 1973. World-renowned pilots, speakers, historians, authors, and aircraft experts come to Tullahoma every year to share their knowledge and celebrate Beechcraft. The national fly-in is for members, aviation enthusiasts, photographers, Beechcraft fans, and the general public – not just pilots and experts. “You don’t even have to be a pilot,” Beechcraft Heritage Museum Vice President Jody Curtis said. “You don’t even really need to know about aircraft. It’s just a fun, exciting event to be at.”
The aviation museum’s 78,000 square foot facility is home to 38 aircraft, original aviation artwork, and historical artifacts from the Beechcraft Aviation Company. And next year, the museum will celebrate its 50th anniversary. The event brings in hundreds of aviation experts and enthusiasts every year. During the October celebration, you can regularly hear planes overhead in Tullahoma. In 2021, over 170 aircraft flew in from coast to coast with over 750 attendees.
“We have a national aviation event here in Tennessee that a lot of the local community doesn’t even know about,” Curtis said. They use local food trucks, caterers, lodging options, printers, and other help from local businesses. The event brings in a lot of tourists, making a huge economic impact for the area.
“I just think it’s a gift to Tullahoma,” she said. “We try to make it a community event.” This year, airshow extraordinaire Matt Younkin, who is a national aerobatic performer in an aircraft that is not built for performing aerobatics, gave a seminar on his experiences. Also, the owner of one of the rarest planes in the world – The Starship – and the former president of Beechcraft did a question and answer session on the exotic aircraft. “There’s a lot of flying every day,” Curtis said. “People don’t just fly in and park their aircraft. There’s a lot of formation flying and instruction going on in the air space during the event.”
She said that the problem the museum keeps facing is that community members often think it’s a private event, but they welcome anyone who’s willing to come.
It’s a rare opportunity to be in the presence of world-class aviators and extremely rare planes. There is a $50 entrance fee per day, but if you’re under 29 years old it’s only $20 a day.
“We have a lot of really rare aircraft flying in from all across the country and world,” Curtis said. “It’s a fun and exciting event.”
This was Curtis’s 25th year at the “beech” party. She has been a volunteer, a director, and now is the executive vice president of the Beechcraft Heritage Museum. “I come because it’s a fascinating group of people with aircraft in a small and contained area right here in Tullahoma, Tennessee,” she said.
The Beechcraft Heritage Museum located on Old Shelbyville Highway is open year-round to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for ages 12 to 17 and 65 and over, and free for those 11 and under. GN