Air Show San Diego 2014

On Saturday and Sunday, June 7th and 8th, the San Diego Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, ‘Air Group One’, held their 19th annual airshow at Gillespie Field in El Cajon, Ca.

The show (formerly known as “Wings Over Gillespie”) has been renamed “AirShow San Diego”. This years show commemorated the 70th anniversary of D-DAY.

The star of the show was the C-53 Skytrooper known as “D-Day Doll”, which actually flew 3 missions in the invasion of Normandy.

Also flying for in commemoration of D-Day for the crowd was a C-47, a P-47, a pair of P-51s, and a FW-190.

Other acts included :

John Collver in his SNJ “War Dog”
Bill Brack in his “Smoke and Thunder” jet car
The San Diego 99s flying a PT-19, Citibria, and Cessana 172 & Cessna 152
The Red Eagles in 4 Yak-52s
A bombing and strafing run demo with pyro involving several AT-6 Texans and a FM2 Wildcat

There were some static displays that flew in for the show, such as an A-37 Dragonfly and AD5 Skyraider in South Vietnamese markings, as well as some notable aircraft from Air Group One’s museum including a F-14 Tomcat, a PBY Catalina, and a rare A2D Skyshark.

The event was a delight for all who were able to attend, and I myself look forward to attending next years as well.

I’d like to thank Rich Kenney and the entire San Diego Wing of the Commemorative Air Force for their hospitality over the weekend.


2013 COPPERSTATE Fly-In & Aviation Expo a Big (Non-Towered) Hit!

More than 6,000 attendees, volunteers, vendors and pilots enjoyed a wide variety of aircraft at the 2013 COPPERSTATE Fly-In & Aviation Expo — the 41st annual event’s first year as a non-towered operation.


CASA GRANDE, ARIZ. (Nov. 20, 2013) — More than 500 aircraft and 6,100 attendees from 12 countries and 37 U.S. states converged on the 41st-annual COPPERSTATE Fly-In & Aviation Expo at the Casa Grande Municipal Airport (Casa Grande, Ariz.) a few weeks ago. This attendance figure tops the 2012 number by more than 600.

This year’s fly-in took place Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013 through Sat., Oct. 26, 2013. Notably, it was the first year in which Casa Grande Municipal — site of the fly-in — has operated as a non-towered airport.

All board directors and chairmen are pleased by how smoothly the event functioned in a non-towered environment. “I monitor the aviation forums, and I can’t find any complaints,” says Denny Cunningham, Air Operations Chairman.

Additionally, a total of 929 people attended COPPERSTATE’s forums — the highest attendance level in five years. Seventy-three kids participated in the wing rib-building workshop (up from 48 in 2012), and 95 people attended the aircraft judging awards banquet on Saturday night.

This year, 329 volunteers were on hand — an increase of about 100 people compared to the 2012 fly-in. “I very pleased with the volunteer turnout this year,” says COPPERSTATE Fly-In President Stephen Bass. “From what I understand, there was no job that was lacking for a volunteer during the fly-in. Next year, however, we’ll need a few more hands during set-up and teardown.”

Sixty-one exhibitors (an increase from last year’s event) — including a handful of food vendors — were also onsite for all three days of the fly-in. “On Saturday afternoon, I had a chance to get around and speak with some of our exhibitors, and they were extremely pleased with this year’s COPPERSTATE,” Bass says. “They especially appreciated the sack lunches given out on Friday and Saturday of the event.”

A Diverse Mix of Aircraft

Since 1971, the COPPERSTATE Fly-In & Aviation Expo has been a great place to see a diverse blend of aircraft in action, attend informative workshops and check out the latest, greatest aviation products. This year’s event was no exception.


This year’s award-winning aircraft are:


Grand Champion:

N356AZ Just Aircraft Escapade

Dennis and Barb Crowley (Tucson, AZ)


Reserve Grand Champion:

N568RV Vans RV-8

Barry Neumayer and William Cheesman (Redlands, CA)


Custom-Built Metal:

1st Place — N568RV

Vans RV-8

Barry Neumayer and William Cheesman (Redlands, CA)


2nd Place — N600RP

Vans RV-7A

Richard Petty (Gold Canyon,  AZ)


3rd Place — N77RM

Harmon Rocket II

Ryan Bendure (Brighton, CO)


Custom-Built — Best Tube and Fabric:


Just Aircraft Escapade

Dennis and Barb Crowley (Tucson, AZ)


Custom-Built Composite:

1st Place — N843P

Arion Lightning

Stan Peternel (Solvang, CA)


2nd Place — N867TC

Giles 202

Taylor Callen (Milliken, CO)


3rd Place — N26KF

Lancair 360

Jake Wolfe (Sonoita, AZ)


Custom-Built Best Replica:


Pike 1929XF Ghost

Larry Dustman (Chandler, AZ)


Custom-Built — Best Rotorcraft:


Rotorway Intl Exec 162F

Mike Doles (Phoenix)



1st Place — NC94196

1946 Ercoupe 415-D

Sydney Cohen (Wausau, WI)


2nd Place — N1126D

1951 Cessna 140A

Carl Bradenburg, Jr. (Goodyear, AZ)



1st Place — N542T

1961 Beechcraft N35 Bonanza

J. Michael Dudley (San Manuel, AZ)


2nd Place — N712L

1956 Piper PA-18-150

Allan Otto (Mesa, AZ)



1st Place — N17154

1941 Stinson SR-9B

John and Teri Nance (San Diego, CA)


2nd Place — N9599H

1943 Howard DGA-15P

Jeffrey Pino (Easton, CT)



1st Place — N818PJ

1978 Yakovlev Yak-18T

Patrick Ashura (Elbert, CO)


2nd Place —N391ZA

1981 Aero Vodochovy L-39ZA

Arnie Evdokimo (Chandler, AZ)


Best Cessna Showplane:

Sponsored by Cessna Flyer Magazine


1951 Cessna 140A

Carl Bradenburg (Goodyear, AZ)


Best Piper Showplane:

Sponsored by Piper Flyer Magazine


1956 Piper PA-18-150

Allan Otto (Mesa, AZ)


People’s Choice:


1943 Howard DGA-15P

Jeffrey Pino (Easton, CT)



For day-by-day event highlights, lots of photos and a list of the 2013 aircraft judging awards recipients, please visit the COPPERSTATE Fly-In website and Facebook page.

The COPPERSTATE Board of Directors will meet on Sat., Jan. 11, 2013 at the Chandler Municipal Airport in Chandler, Ariz. to begin planning the 2014 fly-in.


Since its first event in 1972, the COPPERSTATE Fly-In has been bringing together aviation enthusiasts in the southwest United States.

COPPERSTATE Fly-In, Inc. is a totally volunteer, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting recreational and general aviation through events, scholarships and public education. Proceeds from the COPPERSTATE Fly-In help support scholarship programs for youth seeking careers in the aerospace industry.

COPPERSTATE is the largest Fly-In of its type in the western United States and the fourth largest Fly-In in the United States. It is held at the Casa Grande Municipal Airport (KCGZ) in Casa Grande, AZ. Casa Grande is located approximately halfway between Phoenix and Tucson.


(press release by RaeAnn Slaybaugh)


San Diego Polo Club Fly In 2013


For Fathers Day, the San Diego Polo Club holds an annual fly-in and car show. This year is no different with antique biplanes, the driving of luxury cars supplied by Aston Martin. Attendees will enjoy a classic woody car display, the tasting of Woodford Reserve’s 3 delicious bourbons, and Liberty Tobacco will also be supplying fine imported cigars.

The planes arrived the day before, and in between the matches. The planes are scheduled to depart the Polo Grounds and fly a few laps over the crowd before departing back to their home fields. This year’s planes include Stearmans, Buckners and Cessnas.

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The Allen Airways Fly In San Diego May 10-11, 2013


Now I have always been a huge fan of aviation, but more towards the planes of the second World War and after, so when I got a call on a Thursday night  from a fellow Photorecon photojournalist, about covering a story for him, I was a little apprehensive, as the story was about a group of Boeing/Sterman owner’s who would be having an invite only fly in.

When I arrived at the meeting location, it was at the Polo Grounds near Del Mar, CA., in San Diego County. Here I was, standing on these beautiful well taken care of grass fields stretching for acres, with a club house and horse corrals to the side. The weather was your typical Southern California perfection with sun, some clouds, and a cool breeze blowing in from the ocean.

Soon, there was a low rumbling of sound coming from the east, and after a few seconds, I could see a formation of old bi-planes heading towards the landing field, that had been set up with traffic cones and flags. There were two groups of planes and they all flew over the field, some in formation with other trailing behind. They made several passes, before planes started to land individually.

Immediately, I was struck with a feeling of nostalgia, as this was the way it was done back in the 1930’s and 40’s. When there wasn’t an air field present, the pilots would simply land in a farmers field. As soon as I witnessed this, I became a fan of these people and their planes.

12 planes landed and the pilots and passengers were greeted by family and friends to this annual event. The planes came in various colors, but most prominent were the planes that had been used a military trainers, bright yellow or blues, with various other colors painted on their fuselage. After exchanging handshakes and short conversations, the group gathered at the picnic benches set under the old Pepper trees by the Club House for lunch.

After several hours it was time to take off and head back to Gillespie Field in El Cajon, CA. I found out that the next day (Saturday), the group would be flying from El Cajon, west towards the Pacific Ocean near La Jolla, and then head south over Mission and San Diego Bays, before heading back to Gillespie. At 12 pm. I found myself on top of Mount Soledad waiting for the Stermans. I received a call from one of the pilots, who informed me that the group would be joined by another group of pilots out of Brown Field, in San Diego, and they would be flying Buckers, a German made bi-plane.

Later on on the afternoon, I was invited to come to Allen Airways (owned by organizer of the event  Bill Allen) and photograph their sunset formation flight over Gillespie and then they very kindly asked me to share in their catered Barbeque feast, which was extremely good, especially after a long day of shooting.

I am now officially a fan these planes, while they do not fly as fast as a World War II fighter or a modern day jet. There is something about the slowness, the grace and classic lines of these aircraft, and the memories of when days were simpler and less stressful.

I would like to thank Bill Allen, David Vopat and all of the other folks who made me feel like I was one of them, and for giving me the opportunity to share this experience with these beautiful Boeing/Stermans.

friends military navy post

Centennial of Naval Aviation Kicks Off in San Diego

The Centennial of Naval Aviation (CONA) Parade of Flight, held on February 12th 2011, will be what I judge all other aviation events against for a very long time.  It was the Kickoff event of the year-long celebration of 100 years of naval aviation.  The Parade of Flight featured more than 170 aircraft in the air and close to 75 more on the ground at NAS North Island.  It was largest fly-over of San Diego since the end of World War II, and it was billed as the first Parade of Flight there since 1932’s exhibition in support of the Los Angeles Olympics. During the Parade, every minute or two an aircraft or a formation was in the sky in front of the estimated 70,000 spectators aboard NAS North Island, or the other thousands that lined the opposite shores or watched the spectacle from boats and ships.  The flying show centered in front of the super carrier USS John C. Stennis, which was berthed at North Island.  The Stennis hosted various Distinguished Visitors and VIPs during the event, becoming a towering 103,300 ton stage that is a testament to the progress of US Naval Aviation.

San Diego is rich in aviation history.  The future first Naval Aviator, LT Theodore G. Ellyson, watched as pioneer Glenn Curtiss made the first successful “hydroaeroplane” flight in San Diego Bay in January, 1911.  The site was less than a half a mile from where the Stennis was docked a century later.  Glenn Curtiss taught Theodore Ellyson how to fly on Coronado’s North Island too.  Before the main Parade event, the San Diego Air and Space Museum’s replica Curtiss A-1 Triad, which was the Navy’s first airplane, was taxied into the Bay and raced around the area, even lifting off for a brief period.  A century later, Naval Aviation had come full circle, and the Centennial Parade of Flight had begun.

To give the show full credit, one has to look at the two different, smaller programs that made up the entire one-day Kickoff event.  One focused on activity in the air, the other focused on the ground.  On the NAS North Island ramp, a portion of the 75-plus aircraft on display included seventeen Centennial “retro” or “throwback” color-schemed aircraft, ranging from small single-engined trainers to large, multi-engined patrol aircraft.  Each design was chosen a few years ago, and went through a long approval process before a high ranking officer signed off on the non-standard markings on the Navy aircraft.  Many designs were significant for the host squadron, or followed a famous design from, say, a World War II color scheme.  Although not perfectly matched (airframe designs change, and old schemes can’t be duplicated well on them), most faithfully tried to replicate “how it was”, even right down to the official military paint color specifications.   Which aircraft got the paint scheme usually depended upon which one was coming out of a maintenance cycle and needed new paint, after depot level inspections and repairs were made.  There were F/A-18 Hornets, T-45 Goshawks, MH/HH-60 helicopters and others with attractive schemes, including one Hawaii-based P-3 Orion in the stunning 1950s era color scheme of Seaplane Gray on the bottom and Insignia White on top.

If you liked color, there were more specially painted aircraft besides the Centennial ones.  There were plenty of warbirds about, in their colorful period costumes of bright colors.  Even a large group of today’s jets and props sported “CAG bird” colors, those are specially marked airplanes each Navy squadron is allowed to produce. Although not at ground level, even more aircraft that participated in the Parade of Flight were painted in high visibility colors too… a total of 52 active military aircraft had markings of interest out of a total of nearly 250 that were involved in the show.

In the air, the two-hour long procession was broken down into roughly four acts: warbirds showing a brief history of naval aviation, followed by Marine Corps aviation, then Coast Guard aviation, and finally active Navy representation.  The timing of this Parade was spectacular; every minute or two yielded another aircraft or formation on stage.  The Blue Angels opened the Parade in their signature Delta formation, trailing smoke.  The grand finale was just that; a thirty five aircraft formation made up of 29 F/A-18s, 3 EA-6 Prowlers, and 3 E-2 Hawkeyes from Carrier Wing Nine, assigned to the USS Stennis.

This Parade was not supposed to be a traditional air show, with stunt flying and anyone “turning and burning” over downtown San Diego.  In fact, nearby San Diego International Airport/Lindberg Field (the commercial airport across the bay) operated seemingly normal, as jetliners were coming and going throughout the Parade. What the parade did do was to present a vast amount of aircraft to gaze at for nearly two hours; a different kind of air show indeed.  As soon as one flight would pass, you’d turn and look over your left shoulder to find the next “inbound”, and try to identify the aircraft as it (or they, if it was a formation) approached. This went on for almost two hours!

In my 30-plus years of attending aviation events and air shows, this is the largest in terms of sheer numbers of aircraft that I’ve seen in flight on one day.  Most types and models that the modern Navy, Marines and Coast Guard operate were present; most models were represented in the air as well as on the ground.  An amazing amount of colorful aircraft were assembled, many more than what is normally seen at an air show too.  It’ll be a long time before this event will be eclipsed by another of its kind, I suspect. The Kickoff was a great start to what is shaping up to be an exciting year of Centennial events.

Ken Kula

Additional Photos by Dave Budd