The Tail of the Dragon Dedicated to Vietnam War Helicopter Pilot

Tail of the Dragon in the Smoky Mountains
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One popular road in the Smoky Mountains is getting a new name! The Tail of the Dragon has been renamed to “Captain Johnny Leon Bryant Memorial Highway.” The new name honors Bryant, who was a helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War. We’ve got all the details on the Tail of the Dragon and the dedication!

Tail of the Dragon Dedication

The Tail of the Dragon has gotten a name change and is now dedicated to a Vietnam War helicopter pilot. Captain Johnny Leon Bryant was a helicopter pilot who was shot down during the Vietnam War in 1969. Bryant was a Blount County native who was shot down a total of 6 times during his service. The new name of the Tail of the Dragon is Captain Johnny Leon Bryant Memorial Highway, honoring the pilot.

There was an official dedication event held on Aug. 29, during which community leaders paid tribute to Bryant and formally changed the name of the road. American Legion Post hosted the event.

About the Tail of the Dragon

A man on a motorcycle with a blurred background.The Tail of the Dragon is an 11-mile stretch of road that’s a popular drive for motorcyclists and sports car drivers. It’s been named the top motorcycle ride in America! The Tail of the Dragon is a two-lane highway that stretches from the North Carolina / Tennessee border to Chilhowee Lake in Tennessee. Those who are looking for a thrill love this road because there are a total of 318 curves! Some of the sharpest curves along the ride are nicknamed “Gravity Cavity” and “Copperhead Corner.” The best time for riders to visit is between April and October because temperatures are mild.

If you don’t have a motorcycle, you can also drive the road! As long as you follow safety precautions, the Tail of the Dragon is an unforgettable experience. Keep in mind that this drive is not a slow scenic drive — the attraction is the drive itself! If you do want to enjoy the sights, there are several paved pull-offs, as well as the Calderwood Dam Overlook, where you can stop and take in the views. We recommend driving the road several times, going slow and getting a feel for the curves the first time, then doing it for fun the next few times!

Tips for Driving the Tail of the Dragon

Whether you decide to take your motorcycle or your car for a drive on the Tail of the Dragon, keep in mind that it’s only recommended for experienced motorcyclists and motorists. Because of all the curves, it can be dangerous if you’re not prepared. That’s why we’ve put together a few tips for driving the Tail of the Dragon!

  • Keep your eyes on the road at all times
  • Bikers should avoid the road during the winter
  • Don’t drive at night
  • Wear a helmet with a face mask, jacket and gloves
  • Get your motorcycle checked out before heading out

After you experience the thrill of Tail of the Dragon, now named Captain Johnny Leon Bryant Memorial Highway, try one of the other popular drives in the Smoky Mountains! The other scenic drives allow you to slow down and enjoy the opportunity to take in the sights. Learn more about the Smoky Mountain scenic drives you don’t want to miss.


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