Bonanza-Baron expansion will doubble museum size

The “Beechcrafters” from around the region started arriving at the
Airport early on Saturday for the historic groundbreaking ceremony to
the size of the current Bonanza-Baron Museum on the grounds of the
Staggerwing Museum.

As pilots landed and parked their Beechcrafts, museum staffers in golf
offered a quick ride to the museum where seminars were underway.

“Keep in mind that we have about 60,000 square feet already but we are
excited about today’s groundbreaking,” said Wade McNabb, Staggerwing

When asked what inspired so much passion for Beechcraft, McNabb started
a brief history of the Beech family and company.

“They built the first one in 1932 and they always had in mind a personal
traveling machine, it’s an airplane that people love to fly,” McNabb
He added that he was just six weeks old when his father, the museum’s
curator, took him on his first ride in a Beechcraft.

“There’s something about them, that nearly every time you see someone
out of their Beechcraft and walk away, they’ll turn and just look back
it,” McNabb said. “It has a certain image like the BMW of the sky.”

The separate structure housing the Beechcraft Bonanza-Baron museum
contains some unique examples of both the twin-engine Baron and the
single engine Bonanza.

Harold Bost, president of the Beechcraft Bonanza-Baron museum explained
the 9,000 square foot addition will double the size of the building
for another half-dozen rare and historic exhibits.

Bost pointed out the construction of the museum was done in such a way
hold down costs of future expansions.

“We hope to be at 90,000 square feet someday with an example of every
Bonanza and Baron Beechcraft ever made,” Bost said.

As a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving both the history
examples of the aircraft, Bost relies on owners and restorers to donate
their airplanes to the museum. He’s also stepped in to procure some of
rarest examples of general aviation history.

A flight suit, worn by a man who set a record flying his Beechcraft has
story to it.

“I got a call from a lady who had told the story of her father setting a
record in his Bonanza flying nonstop from the Philippines to Oregon in
1958,” Bost recalled. He said she had mentioned that she still had her
father’s flight suit that he wore on that record-breaking flight in her
garage. It is now in the Bonanza-Baron museum.

Bost goes on to explain that the aircraft was lost somewhere in the
Pacific Ocean when another man was attempting to set a new record.

The lore and the aircraft themselves are often part of the same
families for
generations and it’s that passion for the history that the museum hopes
touch in the hearts of those captivated by the joy and freedom of

At the groundbreaking ceremony Don Cary, a 37-year employee of
now retired, was the featured speaker. It was his first trip to
and, in his words, he was astonished at what has been going on here.

“You have done an amazing job of raising the emotions of Beechcraft so
future generations will enjoy and appreciate the history of the
Cary said, adding that it was a tremendous privilege to be asked to
speak at
the event.

Cary said he had spoken to several Beechcraft publications who should be
getting the word out about what is happening in Tullahoma to preserve
legacy of the Bonanza-Baron aircraft.

“There are hundreds of Beechcrafters that will want to visit this place
soon as we get the word out, that this fabulous monument to our company
to the legacy of two wonderful airplanes is here in Tullahoma,” Cary

As they manned the shovels for the groundbreaking, Mr. Bost said, “It’s
two years, 29 days and five minutes since we broke ground for phase one
I hope all of us are here for the final phase when we have 90,000 square
feet of aircraft.”

by LINDA STOCKWELL, Staff Writer

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