If you have an account with ABS, log in and you will find my published article about the Beech Bash along with pictures. If you are not a member, I highly recommend you become a member with ABS, just click on the link below.
In the early 2000s, I purchased a small farm in Hopkins County, Kentucky, following a brief visit to a quaint little town called Dawson Springs. I called it a hunt camp, but it really just became a place to get away from my businesses in South Florida. The great part about this area is that it’s remote, while the bad part about this area is that it’s remote. After numerous brutal 16-hour drives, I got my pilot’s certificate and began flying myself. My best option for an airport was on the north end of the county in the city of Madisonville. I initially began making the trip in a Grumman Tiger but quickly came to the realization that faster would be better, so I upgraded to a Bonanza F33A and fell in love with the Beech brand. It’s the first aircraft I had owned that did everything well. Roughly a year after purchasing my F33A a friend of mine took me for a ride in his A36. It took only one ride for me to realize that plane checked all the boxes, so I sold my F33A and purchased my A36TC shortly thereafter.
As any good steward of the finest aircraft made, I joined the American Bonanza Society, followed by a few of the Bonanza Facebook groups. I learned a lot about my new airplane and met numerous wonderful people along the way. It only makes sense that the finest aircraft would be flown by thefinest people. My new friendships began to grow with people literally scattered across the U.S. In November of 2021, I was on a return flight back to my Kentucky home airport in Madisonville (2I0) and despite having flown in there dozens of times before, I was so enamored by the view that I videotaped my arrival. Later that evening I was watching the video and thought, “What a great place to have a Beech party and invite all the friends I had made on social media.” After all, it was such a beautiful facility and centrally located. On a side note, in December of 2021 (less than a month later) the south end of the county (Dawson Springs) was devasted by an F5 tornado. The county incurred significant expenses associated with the damage, and any additional revenue the Bash could bring would be a blessing.
On November 26, 2021, I decided to post the video of my arrival into 2I0 on a Facebook group page called Beechcraft Bonanza –Owners, Pilots and Enthusiasts. I asked if anyone would be interested in meeting me there for a Beech party. I tagged 22 Beechcraft friends I had made on social media in the post. The response was overwhelming, with more than 121 comments from people stating they would be interested in coming to a Beech party.
My first thought was, “Great, you’ve got people interested in coming, now what?” Some years ago, I had made friends with Mark Baker, the president of AOPA and a Baron owner, and I thought I would ask him to come speak. I really didn’t expect him to say yes; however, to my pleasant surprise he not only said yes, but he was enthusiastic about it! That's when I realized this was getting real, fast! My next step was to get with Emily Herron, the airport manager for Madisonville Regional Airport (2I0). From the second we spoke, Emily was all in and full of excellent ideas. She presented the idea to Jimmy Riddle, the airport board, city mayor, and they all got excited. We then had a group of very capable people that were 100 percent behind this new Beech party concept. As Emily and I were tossing around ideas of what to call it, the most fitting name quickly evolved: “The Beech Bash in the Bluegrass.”
Now that we had a name, place, date, and a notable speaker, the rest seemed to just fall into place. I called several other friends in the aviation industry (who also happened to own Bonanzas) and told them what was going on. Their response was better than I hoped. Everyone I spoke to not only agreed to speak but offered raffle prizes to help offset the costs associated with the event.
On April 30, 2022, we had the 1st Annual Beech Bash in the Bluegrass, and as anyone in attendance will tell you, it was a huge success! We all had our concerns with this being the first ever, but it went off without a hitch. We gave away huge prizes at a raffle, heard excellent information from the people in the know, listened to incredible Bluegrass music, ate great food, played on full motion simulators, shot a flintlock rifle, shot skeet, listened to more amazing live music, sipped bourbon, and ate more good food. Attendee after attendee (affectionately called Bashers) emailed, texted, and called me to tell me it was the most fun they had had at any social fly-in. The weather was perfect, and we had a star-studded host of speakers as well as famous YouTubers such as Martin Pauly and Scott Perdue.
If you missed it, I’m sorry. The good news is we’re having it again next year: April 29, 2023. Please try to come the night before and stay until the day after so you can enjoy all that the Bash has to offer. Next year we will have dinner and a surprise guest speaker on the evening of the 28th. Saturday the 29th will be followed by more guest speakers, simulator rides, raffles, and wrapped up with much of the same Beech Bash shenanigans as were enjoyed at the first Bash. You won’t want to miss it. For event updates and news, visit www.BeechBash.com as well as our Facebook page “Beech Bash in the Bluegrass.”
A note of thanks to the people who helped make this possible:
In order to pull off this amazing event, it took the hard work and generous gifts of many people. First a huge thank you to our speakers (who also donated raffle prizes): Mark Baker (AOPA), Tom Turner (ABS), Scott Perdue (Flywire), George Braly (GAMI), Jerry Clemens (Clemens Insurance), and Karl Gardner (Gardner Lowe Aviation). You guys made this memorable!
The airport staff: Emily Herron (Airport Manager) was instrumental in hitting this one out of the park. Jimmy Riddle (Airport Board Chair and extremely generous unsung hero), Andy Bachman (Airport Vice Chair), Diane (MVP), and of course the line guys, Matt and Landon.
The city of Madisonville: Mayor Kevin Cotton who gave of his time nonstop; Emily Locke (Public Relations Director and volunteer airport shuttle driver); Brad Long (Deputy City Administrator); Tim Trice (Network Engineer); volunteers Heather, Carrie, Kerri, Dee, and Lisa; the Madisonville Lion’s Club for cooking that amazing breakfast; and Trish Noel with the Hopkins County Tourism for her efforts.
A special thanks to our sponsors: Airmart (Sav), Jet Shades (thank you, Kevin for the raffle items), Just Plane Radio (Dennis and Greg), Sun ’n Fun Radio (Dave Shallbetter), Titan Fuel (thank you for the generous raffle fuel), and Scott and Sevin Layer (most recent IFR pilot) for all the fun with the skeet shooting!
Finally, an additional thanks to Tom Turner and the American Bonanza Society not only for the generous gifts but for also helping us get the word out. We look forward to having you again next year, Tom!
Until then, fly safe Beech Bashers and I’ll see you soon!