Tullahoma’s Unique Aeronautic Heritage

Driving along the streets of Tullahoma Tennessee, you cannot help but notice the many scale model F-16 airplanes affixed along the streets around the city.  The Tullahoma Dream Committee came up with the plan to emphasize the cities aeronautic heritage in 2008. Finally, in 2013, Tullahoma implemented the long planned out Dream Phase. Children from the community were invited by the local art center to come paint their very own little F-16 model.  As a result, each of the model airplanes are unique works of art displayed strategically at almost every busy intersection in town. The idea to highlight the city and its rich aviation history came to light.

Arnold Airforce Base

The city can trace its aviation roots all the way back to World War II. In 1950, Arnold Airforce Base was built upon Camp Forrest,  one of the largest military bases during World War II. “AEDC is named for the man responsible for its conception -- General of the Air Force Henry H. "Hap" Arnold. Shortly before the end of World War II, General Arnold asked Dr. Theodore von Karman, one of history's great aeronautical scientists, to form a Scientific Advisory Group to chart a long-range research and development course for the future U.S. Air Force. AEDC was a result of that plan.” (Arnold Engineering Development Complex, February 2018)

AEDC implements massive wind tunnels to test and improve aircraft. Wind tunnels are large tubes that produce high velocity winds to test airflow and the simulation of aircraft in flight. AEDC is the largest testing facility in the world. It was also the first facility for testing aircraft engines in simulated high speeds.

Tullahoma Airport

Although, Arnold Airforce Base no longer has an active airfield, William Northern Airfield  was used as a training site by the Army Air Force.  Today passing visitors can charter flights, skydive, or just spectate the planes and skydivers in flight at the Tullahoma Airport. Visitors also enjoy touring Tullahoma’s Beechcraft Heritage Museum.

Beech Aircraft Corporation

Following a picturesque winding drive on Old Tullahoma Highway, you will find this distinct aviation museum with an absolute incredible collection of aircraft. Named after the first airplane built by the Beech Aircraft Corporation, the museum was incorporated in 1973 as the Staggerwing Museum Foundation.  Beech Aircraft Corporation was founded in 1932. The classic Model 17 Staggerwing airplane built by Beechcraft first flew in Wichita Kansas of that same year. This favored airplane is featured at the museum and its history is displayed prominently from its creation and focuses on its inspiring heritage. The name of the museum was changed to the Beechcraft Heritage Museum in 2007.  Now it is named after Walter Beech, aviator, and cofounder of the corporation.  The Staggerwing is probably the most favored aircraft portrayed, however it is only one of the many airplanes on display.  Beech previously formed the aircraft company called the Travel Air. Preceding the Staggerwing, the equally famous 1929 Travel Air Mystery Ship was built and can also be admired at the Beechcraft Heritage Museum as well. The Beechcraft Heritage Museum claims to be committed to promoting aviation education and like the F-16 models it contributes to the beautiful artwork displayed in the unique Aeronautic heritage of Tullahoma Tennessee.