Keeping the Tradition Alive
As the dog days of summer come to an end in the southwestern U.S., the Arizona skies behold a flurry of activity. Aircraft owners and pilots come out of their summer slumber, or as we say out west, a siesta of sorts. With summer temperatures reaching into the triple digests, most light aircraft are not well adapted for the high desert heat which can lead to density altitude performance issues. So a lot of pilots choose to head north and park it for summer to repair, upgrade and/or restore their aircraft for a big reveal come next Fall. Some pilots and builders find an air-conditioned hangar and take the time off to build a kit aircraft or help friends do the same.
One of the largest first-of-Fall gatherings is the Copperstate Fly-In, a Regional EAA fly-in and aviation trade show held at the Casa Grande Municipal Airport in Casa Grande, AZ. This event is now in its 42nd year, taking place from Thursday, October 23rd through Saturday, October 25th, 2014. This time of year the weather is beautiful and the flying conditions are superb.
The annual event draws upwards of 600 aircraft and 6,000 registered participants per year, including representatives from 10 countries and 40 U.S. states. Thousands of people attend the EAA workshop s and clinics held all weekend long. Attendees can enjoy a wide variety of aircraft from ultralights to WWII Warbirds, and from jets to kit-built aircraft. This year the USAF even brought out its’ Rapid Strike, a unique simulator ride experience that immerses visitors in the high-tech world of the U.S. Air Force. This event has something for all; good food and great people make for a fun family outing.
This event seems to get better every year. The 2014 edition was no exception with upwards of 50 exhibitors displaying aviation related products in the “big tent,” as it has become known. The event is staffed by approximately 400 dedicated volunteers, who are really the people who make it happen, and who keep this tradition alive.
One of the highlights on Saturday was the mass fly over of T-34 Mentors, CJ-6 and Nanchang aircraft from the local area. The pilots skillfully demonstrated tight formation work with several passes wing tip to wing tip, all the time holding perfect formation.
The Copperstate Fly -In is a show place for the builder and restorer. All weekend aircraft are inspected and critiqued by seasoned pilots and builders. Finally, the judges arrive at decisions in each of several categories. The anticipated announcements are made at the judging awards banquet, held on the Saturday night of the event; this is a crowd-pleaser, especially for the winners.
Some award categories and 2014 winners are as follows:
Grand Champion Aircraft Lancair Legacy N11LL William D Ford II Durango, CO
Reserve Grand Champion Aircraft Vans RV-8A N688RV Rob Meade Phoenix, AZ
People’s Choice 1941 Stinson SR-9B N17154 John Nance San Diego, CA
Classic Aircraft Cessna 150 N3111N Rusty Gavagan Chandler, AZ
Military Aircraft S312 Tucano T MK1 N868RS Tom Rowe Phoenix, AZ
For a complete list of2014 winners please check http://www.copperstate.org/csj/index.php/2014-award-winners-menu
If you find yourself in southern Arizona in late October, you should plan a visit to this excellent fly-in, which harkens back to the days of open ramps and free airspace. You can walk about and enjoy some great aircraft, meet some great people, and sample some local food. Who knows, you just might learn or see something you haven’t seen before. The Copperstate Fly-In is a very unique experience that you have to attend to really appreciate.
Directions, dates and other information can be found here: http://www.copperstate.org/csj/