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A Beechcraft Model 17 Staggerwing, right, along with various other aircraft, sat on display at the Beechcraft Heritage Museum based at Tullahoma Regional Airport for The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) last fly-in of 2019.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) played host to its last fly-in event of 2019 at Tullahoma Regional Airport. The AOPA’s Fly-Ins provide a special opportunity for AOPA Pilots to feel welcomed, relaxed, and connected with other pilots and enthusiasts. Guests flew in from over 800 miles away. With over 300,000 members, AOPA is the largest aviation club in the U.S.

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AOPA held an exhibit hall open from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. on both days of the fly-in with various vendors and displays of the latest aviation technology. One of the tables provided information on the association’s flight training program

The two day event, held last Friday and Saturday, included a cookout, several seminars and exhibits along with a plethora of airplanes on display and vendors with the latest flying technology and products for more-enjoyable aviation.

AOPA is celebrating 80 years of flying, and played host at three fly-ins this year in Frederick, Maryland, Livermore, California, and Tullahoma.

One of the first events held on Friday was a “pilot town hall” with CEO and President of AOPA, Mark Baker. He and his team presented more information about the AOPA Foundation and all of the programs they have to offer, including the “You Can Fly” umbrella program that offers classes for rusty pilots, high school students and anyone who wants to learn to fly. An additional town hall was held on Saturday morning.

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CEO and President of AOPA, Mark Baker, held a “pilot town hall” on both days of the fly-in to give general information about the association and answer questions from pilots.

AOPA also used the fly-in to promote a sweepstakes, giving away a Van’s RV-10 aircraft equipped with a large group of features including Whelen LED lights and a freshly done interior. It is the first experimental airplane AOPA has ever given away. Originally built in Canada, the plane has been flying for 12 years. Since its arrival in America, AOPA has upgraded it with the best technology and craftsmanship. The giveaway is scheduled to close next fall. The plane will be on display at the association’s next few events, scheduled through 2020. All AOPA members are automatically entered into the drawing. They are also given other opportunities to get extra chances to win.

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AOPA is holding a sweepstakes, giving away for a Van’s RV-10 aircraft equipped with a large group of features including Whelen LED lights and a freshly done interior. It is the first experimental airplane AOPA has ever given away. Originally built in Canada, the plane has been flying for 12 years. Since its arrival in America, AOPA has upgraded it with the best technology and craftsmanship. The giveaway is scheduled to close next fall. The plane will be on display at the association’s next few events, scheduled through 2020. All AOPA members are automatically entered into the drawing. They are also given other opportunities to get extra chances to win.  

The Great Lakes Drone Company presented an aviation-themed night drone show to celebrate AOPA’s eightieth anniversary on Friday night. Guests were also given the opportunity to fly aboard Champaign Gal, the B–25 operated by the Champaign Aviation Museum in Urbana, Ohio. A short takeoff and landing demonstration (STOL) took place on both Friday and Saturday night.

 “The goal of our regional fly-ins are to draw the aviation community together to help build relationships and also display the latest aviation technology. We also deep dive into skill training to boost their abilities as pilots. Here, participants are able to get up close to aircrafts, meet pilots and learn more about general aviation,” Christ Eads, AOPA Senior Director of Outreach and Events, said. “We love coming to Tennessee. The hospitality is great.”

Generally, the fly-in played host to 3,536 guests on Friday, with 5,889 visitors on Saturday, for a two-day total of 9,425. The temporary tower and airside volunteers handled 572 aircraft.

For more information about AOPA, visit their website at www.aopa.org.

Katelyn Lawson may be reached at klawson@tullahomanews.com