Pilot Journal
Monday, September 1, 2008

Beech Party!


Celebrating Tullahoma’s annual Beechcraft birthday bash


A flight of three Staggerwings has just made a low pass along the runway; eight V-tail Bonanzas in two echelons are flying overhead at 1,000 feet AGL; and a Model 18 Twin Beech and a Twin Bonanza in formation swoop out of the sky and thunder by. More vintage Beechcraft in twos, threes and fours are making circuits and performing flybys for the crowd of several hundred gathered here at Tullahoma Regional Airport (KTHA) in eastern Tennessee.
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beecraftA flight of three Staggerwings has just made a low pass along the runway; eight V-tail Bonanzas in two echelons are flying overhead at 1,000 feet AGL; and a Model 18 Twin Beech and a Twin Bonanza in formation swoop out of the sky and thunder by. More vintage Beechcraft in twos, threes and fours are making circuits and performing flybys for the crowd of several hundred gathered here at Tullahoma Regional Airport (KTHA) in eastern Tennessee.

“People come here to fly their airplanes and get together with like-minded friends—often at the same time,” said Beechcraft collector “Old” Bob Siegfried of Downers Grove, Ill., gazing up at the airborne display of fraternity. He later got into the act himself, leading Siegfried family members in a four-ship formation of a Stearman, a Twin Beech, an S35 Bonanza and an AT-6 Texan. [See “The Flying Siegfrieds” from Pilot Journal July/August 2008.]


The homage the Staggerwing inspires is understandable. As the aircraft that launched Beech Aircraft Corporation, it’s an important piece of aviation history.
This is the annual Beechcraft fly-in at the Beechcraft Heritage Museum (www.beechcraftheritagemuseum.org) in Tullahoma, Tenn. Want a ride in a Staggerwing or a Twin Beech? Go out to the tiedown area, and you’re likely to get an invitation. Classic Beech airplanes are parked wingtip to wingtip on the grass, gleaming paint and polished aluminum bespeaking their lavish care.

“My wife calls it ‘Lola,’” Steve Dyer, who flew in from Brighton, Colo., said of his 1944 D17S Staggerwing. “Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets.”

Behind us, the low-slung buildings and hangars house the largest and most historically important collection of Beech airplanes anywhere in the world, from a 1925 Travel Air Model 1000 (Serial #1) to a Model 2000A Starship.






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