• Beechcraft Heritage Museum

    Posted on April 22nd, 2011 John Dorcey No comments

    We have passed through some beautiful country today as we travelled from Birmingham, Alabama, to Tullahoma, Tennessee. The weather has been CAVU with temps in the 70s. Our last leg on this trip has been state highways and we have enjoyed the opportunity to see the Tennessee countryside. We passed a number of other attractions – the last being the Jack Daniels’ Distillery in Lynchburg. We saved the distillery tour for another day.

    Beechcraft Heritage MuseumThe Beechcraft Heritage Museum is located adjacent to the Tullahoma Regional Airport (KTHA). The museum is west of the Runway 36 extended centerline on the airport’s south side. The drive in to the facility was along a shady, tree-lined lane that reminded us of many Wisconsin airports. Began as the Staggerwing Museum Foundation in October 1973, the museum was given its current moniker in April 2007. The current name reflects the organization’s commitment to preserving the heritage of the entire lineage of Beechcraft.

    1932 Model 17R-1

    The museum is made up of a collection of several buildings. Our tour began in the Beech Center. We visited the gift shop and then began viewing the museum’s collection of 24 aircraft. The museum displays two firsts; the first Travel Air (1925, Model 1000) and the first Model 17 Beechcraft Staggerwing (1932, Model 17R-1). Aircraft displays provide plenty of room for close examination. Aircraft are all in pristine condition. Beyond the aircraft collection the museum holds many artifacts of early aviation.

    We spent some time in the Walter H. Beech Hangar studying materials and artifacts of aviation’s Golden Age. We moved on to the Louise M. Thaden Office and Library. Housed in a 100-year-old log cabin, the library contains many artifacts of this early aviatrix. We then made our way back to the Beech Center and the museum’s offices.

    Beechcraft Starship

    Wade McNabb, museum CEO and Curator, joined us for the second half of our tour. He took us through the Bonanza/Baron Museum that also includes a Beech Starship. Wade is an excellent ambassador for the museum and organization. The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development created an excellent video on the museum.

    Our tour concluded just in time for a late lunch. Wade made an excellent recommendation – Emil’s. The 1905 home of doctor and former Tullahoma mayor Jack Farrar provides an excellent backdrop for the restaurant. When travelling in the Tullahoma area we recommend you pause for a delightful dining experience at Emil’s.

    The fifth of five aviation museums for our spring vacation proved to be a real gem.