Nashville recording artist and pilot Aaron Tippin is among the Middle Tennessee residents hoping to land the Commemorative Air Force permanently at historic Smyrna Airport.
As a licensed commercial aircraft pilot, Tippin currently serves as a volunteer pilot who makes regular demonstration flights of old war birds for the CAF.
“I was interested in the CAF, as a boy growing up in South Carolina, dating back to when it was called the Confederate Air Force ...” said Tippin, who is serving as the organization’s spokesman. “I’m throwing my hat in the ring, encouraging CAF directors to relocate its fleet of antique war planes from Midland, Texas, to Middle Tennessee.
“With Nashville’s existing tourism, and Smyrna Airport’s central U.S. geographic location, I think it would be good for the CAF to relocate its permanent base and museum here in Middle Tennessee,” Tippin added.
Smyrna Airport, formerly known as Sewart Air Force Base, has been confirmed among three U.S. air fields being considered as the permanent base for the CAF and its museum showcasing multiple U.S. and European planes used in WW I, WW II and Korea.
The old air base’s long runways are another feature that interests CAF officials.
A CAF official has confirmed a decision whether to relocate from Texas to Middle Tennessee will be made by Jan. l.
Before Tippin became a country music recording star, he was a commercial pilot, flying big cargo planes as a business with his father.
It was celebrity CAF pilot Tippin who recently landed the huge “Super Fortress FiFi” B-29 in July at Smyrna Airport to be on display and provide flights for area historians and flight enthusiasts.
“Flying a big warbird like FiFi, is different from a small aircraft,” Tippin accounted. “The big B-29 FiFi for example, is known to have a tendency of having a tail skid when landing. Other pilots that volunteer with the CAF have been kidding me about that happening when I first landed FiFi at Smyrna Airport. But I don’t believe FiFi had one of her tail skids when I landed the historic aircraft bomber that was a work horse in World War II.
“When you make a change on the controls of a big airplane, you sit moments, waiting for the big warbird to respond,” Tippin shared.
It was two Super Fortress B-29s the U.S. used in dropping the atom bombs that ended the war with Japan.
“I got accustomed to flying big aircraft dating back to when I flew cargo-hauling Convair 440s as part of my family’s flight business back in South Carolina,” Tippin noted.
Tippin granted his interview while driving from his 500-acre Middle Tennessee farm retreat en route to Nashville International Airport where he was scheduled to board a plane for Alaska.
“It’s a paid entertainment gig I have in Alaska,” Tippin noted.
Many country music fans wrongfully assume Tippin is a former U.S. military pilot.
“I’ve never been in the military, but always been supportive of military, dating back to before I made my first tour of entertaining the troops as part of Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s,” Tippin shared.
Tippin’s first troop entertainment tour was with the late great comedian Bob Hope following the singer’s hit song, “You’ve Got To Stand For Something” that rocked Nashville’s country music industry.
“Bob Hope’s last troop-entertainment tour to the Persian Gulf in 1991 was my first troop entertainment tour,” the singer noted. “I was honored to be asked to tour with Bob Hope, and sing my song (You’ve Got To Stand For Something) for the U.S. troops in Operation Desert Storm.”
Tippin’s latest troop entertainment tours have been in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He shared some unusual facts about his life that many fans don’t know.
“I’ve been hit by lightning twice,” Tippin noted. “I’m a licensed commercial airline pilot, an aircraft mechanic and qualified to fly helicopters.
“My favorite food is peanut butter,” Tippin concluded. “There are no televisions in the Tippin home.”