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Written by Dick Tonan
Beechcraft Heritage Museum and local clubs work together to promote flying
Our community
As seen in the July 2012 issue of
Model Aviation.

A full-scale aircraft museum and an association of model airplane clubs have found a way to team up and promote aviation.

The Middle Tennessee R/C Clubs Association (MTRCCA) is an AMA chapter that was formed six years ago, and its members come from five middle-Tennessee AMA chartered clubs. This association aims to promote fellowship among clubs in the middle Tennessee region, pool the resources of the member clubs to support large events, and encourage model aviation.

Scott Harris proudly displays his world-class F-16, which was featured on the cover of the August 2011 issue of MA.

The Beechcraft Heritage Museum, located in Tullahoma, Tennessee, showcases the history of the Beechcraft family of airplanes. It is committed to promoting aviation education and preserving the heritage of Beechcraft airplanes. It was incorporated under the auspices of the Staggerwing Club. The association and the museum have found a way to work together and support one another.

The MTRCCA holds three annual events, one of which is its annual RC air show. For a variety of reasons—including that the air show had outgrown its venue—the association board members decided that a new site was needed for the October 1, 2011, event. Association members and officials with the Tullahoma Airport Authority (TAA) began discussing the possibility of holding the event at Tullahoma Municipal Airport.

Lonnie Johnson displays his exquisite AMR Waco YMF-5.

The association is a chapter of the national AMA organization, which was a key factor in garnering approval. Also, the group assured the TAA that it had the experience and means to operate in a safe manner that would not interfere with airport operations.

During these discussions, MTRCCA members met the museum’s curator, Wade McNabb. (The museum is located adjacent to the airport.) It was quickly realized that the association and the museum shared several common goals— namely promoting aviation to the public, especially youth. Model aviation is a great way to do this. As a result, MTRCCA and Beechcraft officials decided to collaborate on the air show, as well as museum events.

The incredible craftsmanship can be seen in this bare-bones version of the Beechcraft Staggerwing.

The airport proved to be an outstanding flying site for the premier air show in October, and it had the added benefit of being close to the museum—making the event more than just a typical fly-in.

Saturday evening, there was a catered dinner at the museum’s first-class facility. Tables covered with white linen were set up in a hangar and were surrounded by classic Beechcraft aircraft, including the first Beechcraft: a Model 17 Staggerwing, the original Travel Air Mystery Ship, and a host of Model 18 Twin Beeches. What a great setting for a dinner for a group of aviation enthusiasts!

This is the first Beechcraft: the 1932 Model 17 Staggerwing.

To further enhance the evening, The Red Wine Effect trio provided beautiful music during the dinner.

Following the dinner, Wade provided a guided tour of the museum. This alone was worth the price of admission! Wade’s knowledge of the extensive collection and history of the various aircraft brought them to life. This tour wrapped up the air show. However, there was more in store for the partnership.

The museum’s rare Baron Model 2000A Starship. Only nine are actively registered with the FAA.

On Monday, October 3, the museum hosted its semi-annual Scot Perry Air Academy. Throughout the three-day period, the museum provided local youth the opportunity to visit the museum, where they were exposed to various aspects of aviation. This included working with model airplanes, model rockets, and hot air balloons. This is where the MTRCCA stepped in.

Association board members viewed this as a good opportunity to expose youth to aviation and RC modeling. Several association members returned to the museum on Tuesday, October 4, with four RC trainer aircraft. During the course of the day, they conducted introductory flights for the 18 youngsters attending the academy.

In addition to the fine food and classic aircraft, pilots were treated to the wonderful music of The Red Wine Effect.

It was a rewarding experience, and at the end of the three days, the participants ranked the introductory flights as the highlight of the academy.

A couple of weeks after the association air show, the museum hosted its annual Beech Party Fly-In. Pilots from across the country descended on the Tullahoma airport, flying their vintage and modern Beechcraft aircraft. In a quid pro quo agreement, the association arranged to support this museum event. The question was how.

After a hard day of flying, the pilots enjoyed a catered dinner surrounded by two Beech Model 18 aircraft and a Travel Air Mystery Ship.

Association members decided on a static display of a range of RC aircraft—from small electrics to a 50% Ultimate Biplane. The display also included turbine-powered models and RC helicopters.

A view of the Saturday morning flightline; it was clear, but cold!

A group of association members, known as the Dog House Flyers, provided some of the models and set up flight simulators with two 55-inch plasma television monitors. This was a hit. The kids and the full-scale pilots enjoyed it. There was a line of people all day patiently waiting for a turn.

MTRCCA had intended to put on several fl ight demos, but was limited to only two late in the day. The full-scale pilots were having too much fun doing low passes down the runway with their Staggerwings, Twin Beeches, Bonanzas, and Barons.

Classic aircraft, fast cars, and RC model aircraft … does it get any better than this?

During the course of the event, association members spoke with many museum members. A common theme became apparent. How do we get today’s youth interested in aviation? This is the same discussion that takes place at AMA Headquarters in Muncie, Indiana, and among local clubs.

As a result, several association members met with Wade McNabb to discuss the issue and determine what steps can be taken to achieve this goal. During the threehour meeting, a number of ideas were tossed around, most of which focused on the museum-sponsored Air Academy.

The youngsters who participated in the museum-sponsored Scot Perry Air Academy learn about RC models.

Both groups continue to meet to turn these ideas into actions. MTRCCA members are optimistic that by pooling the resources of the association with the Beechcraft Heritage Museum, they can make a difference.

—Dick Tonan


Middle Tennessee Radio Control Clubs Association

Beechcraft Heritage Museum


To me, the Twin-Beech is the sexiest twin EVER designed. I wish I had a color guide for N63158, used in “It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World” (1963), and do that Revell Germany 1/48th kit some justice. WhoooooooHoooooo!!!!!!

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