Hundreds of Planes Expected at AOPA Event
March 3, 2015
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  • The local community got its first taste of what is involved in hosting an Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) fly-in during a gathering of pilots and city officials held Tuesday at the Beechcraft Heritage Museum.

    The local AOPA event is set for Oct. 9-10 at the Tullahoma Regional Airport.

    Chris Eads, director of outreach and events for AOPA, said they are expecting between 500 and 700 planes to fly into the airport during the event.

    “In the first two hours Saturday morning we will have airplanes landing every 20 seconds,” Toni Mensching, director of pilot information center, told the gathering.

    “Every pilot landing here will be met by a person telling them where to park and what is going on.”

    Eads said that the organization will hold five fly-ins around the country this year: in Salinas, California in May; Frederick, Maryland on June 5-6; in Minneapolis on Aug. 21; in Colorado Springs on Sept. 24-25, and in Tullahoma on Oct. 9-10.

    During the two-day event, classes will be held for pilots who haven’t flown in a while to get them “freshened up on rules and regulations and get current,” according to Eads. That meeting is called Rusty Pilots Meeting.

    There will also be exhibits set up by manufacturers, vendors and other exhibitors. Among the exhibitors will be 30 aircraft displayed in front of the Beechcraft Museum, as well as the latest technology equipment available.

    A pancake breakfast will be provided by the Experimental Aircraft Association, and president of the AOPA, Mark Baker, will address a gathering to discuss aviation and answer questions from those attending.

    “We need lots of volunteers to help us,” said Dan Justman, aviation event planner for AOPA.

    Anyone wishing to sign up and help out can do so by visiting aopa.org/fly-in.

    He said that civic groups and organizations as well as individuals are invited to sign up and help with the events.

    Eads said those wishing to register to attend the event should visit the website, as well.

    “Those signing up early will get a $5 discount in the AOPA store and other discounts,” Mensching said.

    Eads told the gathering that camping will be available on the grounds of the Beechcraft Museum but a number of attendees who plan to camp is needed in advance.

    Airport Authority member Karla Smith said that members of the authority have spoken with motels in Tullahoma, Manchester and Shelbyville in hopes of securing discounted rates during the event.

    Mayor Lane Curlee told the gathering that the AOPA team has “done a great job” in working to put the event on in Tullahoma and that the city is proud to be hosting one of the events.

    Also attending the planning meeting were representatives from Nashville and Memphis flight centers who were interested in learning more about the event and what to expect.

    These included representatives from the Union City Airport, Winchester Airport, Smyrna Airport and Shelbyville Airport, the MTSU flight school and the TDOT Aeronautics Division.

    Eads said that the organization will be working with Tullahoma Fire Chief Paul Blackwell, Fire Chief Richard Shasteen, Ambulance Service Director Michael Bonner and Emergency Management Agency Director Allen Lendley in coordinating procedures that need to be established for the event.