Tullahoma Air Show 1979

At the Tullahoma Air Show's debut event in 1979, MOTHER EARTH NEWS showed off several pieces of equipment running on ethyl alcohol.
By the Mother Earth News editors
January/February 1980
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The alcohol fuel still MOTHER EARTH NEWS brought to the 1979 Tullahoma Air Show attracted a lot of interest.

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As most of you already know, MOTHER EARTH NEWS' alcohol fuel research has by no means been limited to our Hendersonville, North Carolina "home base." Nor, for that matter, has our work been confined to converting "earthbound" forms of transportation to run on ethanol . . . see our story on the Experimental Aircraft Association's Oshkosh, Wisconsin Fly-In.

So, with the experience of one aviation event already under their belts, MOTHER EARTH NEWS' alcohol crew members didn't think twice when the kind folks at the EAA invited them to attend the "Oshkosh of the East," Tullahoma's 1979 Fly-In, which took place at Soesbe-Martin Field on the outskirts of that small Tennessee city.

Despite the fact that 1979 marked the first year the Tullahoma Air Show had ever been held—not to mention that the exhibit was nearly drowned out by heavy rains during its initial three days—Tullahoma '79 proved to be an instant success. In fact, some 25,000 people (and 203 aircraft) showed up for the meet!

As far as MOTHER EARTH NEWS' people were concerned, of course, fuel alcohol was the name of the air show game. So—immediately upon arriving at the field—the crew proceeded to convert one of the EAA's Volkswagen dune-buggy field cars to burn ethanol ... a process that took less than 40 minutes.

In addition to preparing the cut-down VW, MOM'S workers made themselves available to EAA mechanics who were busily converting a single-engine Pober Pixie (the aircraft experts—as it turned out—really didn't need any help . . .after all, they'd already "learned alcohol" at Oshkosh), and soon that sport airplane was flying with the best of them.

But the big news at Tullahoma was MOTHER EARTH NEWS' Impressive 6-inch-column still ... all 15 feet of which guaranteed that anyone walking near the alcohol exhibit would have his or her curiosity sufficiently aroused to take a look. Naturally, the distillery's liquid product was used to power all sorts of equipment: including our portable generator, a fuel oil furnace, one of Traction, Inc.'s unusual Quadractors, and of course MOTHER EARTH NEWS' own alcohol-powered truck.

Just to "round out" the variety of vehicles and machinery using alcohol fuel at the event, MOM'S people took advantage of the opportunity to tie up with Rotec Engineering, Inc.—a firm that manufactures ultralight aircraft—in order to prove that even a small two-cycle engine can be easily (and successfully) adapted to airborne ethyl alcohol use.

All in all, the Tullahoma event proved to be one worth attending, both for MOTHER EARTH NEWS' crew and for the interested public. If you missed the show this time around, plan to catch it next year at Tullahoma, Tennessee . . . from October 1 through October 5!

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