Apr 2021 Fly to Chattanooga Tennessee!
Thank you Sarah Arnold for a spot-on perfect landing!
Considering I live just a few hundred miles from the Chattanooga, Tennessee area it’s crazy it has taken me so long to explore it. After roaming the area and heading back to Indy today in Boyd’s RV7, flying down low in the bumpy air to ride a tailwind, I had just a little time to reflect on 3 fun days.
What are my takeaways from an adventure I did not organize or plan? Yep, I was just coming along for the ride and suddenly I was in charge!
It’s spring break time for Indy Public Schools and our RV7 friends were heading to Chattanooga for a few days. Did we want to fly along? Well of course, lead the way, Boyd and I are ready to go! Unfortunately the morning of departure our friend had a medical issue that required investigation and we all agreed, our 2-plane flight should not happen. Happily, a diagnosis soon determined antibiotics and a few days rest would fix the problem and in the meantime, they encouraged us to go without them. How’s that song go … “Do we stay or do we go?!!!” You guessed it — WE GO!
A short 1 hour 35 minute flight, thanks to a strong tailwind and a speedy RV7, got us there in warp speed. After three days exploring the area, I’m here to report my top SIX TOP highlights from the Chattanooga area.
(Actually, my #1 isn’t even in Chattanooga but it’s only a short drive/flight to the north east – this spot’s a MUST on any pilot’s Must-Visit Chattanooga area list)
1) 92A Chilhowee Gliderport, Benton, Tennessee. Glider pilots, wanna-be glider pilots and GA pilots absolutely must visit 92A. This 2600′ grass strip is home to Sarah Arnold, a US Sports Class National Champion, the first woman in history to represent the USA in world soaring competition in Argentina 2013. Later that year she flew the Women’s World Gliding Championships in Issoudin, France and took home a bronze medal. Sarah and husband Jason operate Chilhowee Gliderport and are both FAA-Certified Flight Instructors for Gliders (CFIG).
I was lucky enough for a quick 3 hour visit to Chilhowee Gliderport and so happy for a quick chat with Jason and a few words with a very very busy Sarah as she was about to launch. My recommendation to anyone wanting flight time with Sarah — get on her calendar ASAP! I’ll be going back and you can bet, I’ll give her plenty of notice!
2) The Boathouse Rotisserie & Raw Bar. After checking out ‘where the locals eat’ and cozying up to the idea of a seafood dinner, our first evening in town we picked this spot. It was SO GOOD, the river view SO GREAT, we visited the second night too.
If you visit, don’t be fooled into taking inside seating. A short wait for outside seating might be the highlight of your day. Alas, I didn’t take a picture of my yummy oyster po’boy but trust me, it alone was worth the trip!!
3) Lookout Mountain. The view from Lookout Mountain is spectacular and I’m even calculating the fact we flew a small taildragger in, so you know we already had a fantastic view. We stayed away from high priced tourist sites like Rock City, Ruby Falls, and the official Lookout Mountain. Instead, we visited Lookout Mountain Battlefield Visitor Center, open and free during Covid and had the ultimate view. The historical Civil War information center was open, free of charge, with self-selecting videos on display. This is one place you can go and spend a lot, or spend a little, and come away educated and informed.
4) It’s Easter weekend in Chattanooga, coincidently the only time you can drive down I75 and see spectacular wild purple wisteria in full bloom. Wisteria is a non-native, fast spreading, climbing vine with beautiful spring blooms. It’s not necessarily a welcome site to property owners and invasive, but beautiful to see non-the-less.
5) Chattanooga National Cemetery. For patriots of every sort. For history buffs. For Civil War historians. For all U.S. war historians. Chattanooga National Cemetery is a must visit. Come, spend an hour, spend a day, revel in U.S. history, acknowledge, appreciate and understand the sacrifices of our fathers and forefathers.
6) Bonus Point!! The cheapest, best, most unexpected and perfectly located motel in the Chattanooga Metropolitan area. Day’s Inn by Wyndham, Hamilton, via Priceline.com. $56 Nite. It’s just off the interstate, surrounded by restaurants, a mall, everything you need, AND nice, safe and comfy. I LOVED the pillows in our room so much I begged the front desk to sell me some. They called the owner and shazam, sold me two for $7 each. I’d already read the pillow tags and was ready to buy them online for $49.00 each. Support this motel who’s just trying to survive through Covid 19!