Powered Parachutes To Warbirds On Display
By: David Kujawa, Special To ANN
The Copperstate Fly-In, held in Casa Grande, Arizona, has become
an aviation enthusiasts' delight. The diversity of types at this
year's show, which ran October 21-23, covered the gamut from
powered parachutes to heavy iron, offering something for everyone's
Helicycle And B-17
The Early Bird Award was earned by Tanker 121, a Consolidated
P4Y-2 Privateer. Much to the joy of the volunteer work party
laboring all day under the Arizona sun, Tanker 121 arrived in Casa
Grande on Saturday afternoon, October 16, the weekend before the
show. N2871G is the only airworthy example of the naval version of
the famous B-24 Liberator. Featuring a single, tall, vertical tail
in place of the familiar twin tails and with a lengthened fuselage,
Tanker 121 had just come out of a five-year rehab at Hawkins &
Powers in Greybull, WY to her public debut at Copperstate. She was
parked on the ramp next to the terminal, motivating site
preparation activity during the week.
A much needed, dust settling rain fell in the hours before
daybreak on Thursday, October 21. Volunteers hustled to put the
finishing touches on the site as exhibitors began setting up. An
Apache attack helicopter taxied to the helipad near show center as
the Commemorative Air Force's always gleaming B-17 Sentimental
Journey and her recently restored stablemate, 18-mission World War
II combat veteran B-25 Maid In The Shade arrived. Top cover was
provided by Little Friends-a sleek Spitfire Mk IX replica R-ED and
the stunning P-51 Mustang Red Dog.
"Red Dog" P-51
These classics were complemented by contemporary turbine power-a
smiling, shark-faced T-34C Turbo Mentor, a midnight black Shorts
S-312 Super Tucano, a camouflaged bird dog SIAI-Marchetti SM.1019
and a pair of L-39 Albatros'.
The flying circus came to town in the form of a red and white
1930 New Standard D-25 biplane emblazoned with the word RIDES on
its lower wings, the CAF's navy blue SNJ trainer and a
Teutonic-colored T-34 Mentor, all hopping rides with merry
passengers and performing crowd pleasing fly-pasts.
Contrasting the heavy iron were the lite flyers-powered
parachutes, trikes and ultralights who have their own parallel
desert runway directly accessible from their rampside hangout.
Local PPG guru Mo Sheldon entertained early morning attendees with
the first showcase flight each day.
Mo Sheldon PPG
The Copperstate Fly-In is unique amongst its peers in that there
is no daily airshow. There is, however, a nearly continuous parade
of airplanes on display-a stream of showcase flights throughout the
day are interwoven with aircraft arrivals and departures. Not
having an airshow means never having to shut down the airspace,
allowing fly-in guests to come and go as they please.
Friday featured intermittent high overcast and sunshine with
highs in the mid-70s. EAA-sponsored forums and workshops and were
running full tilt and the rib building Kid's Program got underway.
New this year to Copperstate was the AZ FAASTeam providing FAA
safety seminars and Wings credit for participants. The weather
surrounding Arizona was such that many would-be attendees from
bordering states were unable to get through, although one
determined Cessna 195 owner started with a Pacific Ocean-facing
departure and climb to an eastward VFR-on-top flight from
California. Local aircraft owners began turning out in force
through the afternoon.
Saturday dawned bright and clear. Tower staff and aircraft
parking marshals were busy from the start as arrivals began filling
the ramp. The juxtaposition of a turbine powered, single seat
Helicycle sitting in front of the B-17 was a small vignette of the
day to come. The mid-morning arrival of a 15-ship formation of
Nanchang CJ-6s and friends excited the increasingly large crowd.
After a formation break the group landed and rumbled to a stop in
line between rows of showplanes. A formation of Stearmans dotted
the sky with smoke-on passes. By noon the ramp was covered with
people and airplanes.
Experimental aircraft were represented by a tiny silver
Hummelbird through a fire-breathing Lancair IV-P. Award winners
ranged from a snappy white and yellow GY-20 Minicab, an amphibious
Challenger in Coast Guard-livery to a custom painted Rotorway
helicopter. Antique and vintage enthusiasts admired Waco biplanes,
an Oshkosh award-winning Stinson Gullwing, round-motored Cessnas
and a Globe Swift with all the mods. Perhaps the most unusual
looking airplane in attendance was a 1962 Nardi FN-333 amphib with
a single, large hull float and outriggers and a twin tail.
Afternoon flying activities amplified with the arrival of
Fuelventure 400 race participants who launched and recovered at
nearby Phoenix Regional Airport. After completing their final
weigh-ins to determine the most fuel efficient airplane in the sky,
a gaggle of racers made high speed passes down the runway. The
third annual Fuelventure's overall winner was Klaus Savier who
averaged 57 mpg at 225 mph over the 400-mile course in his highly
Copperstate is the largest all-volunteer run fly-in in the
United States. It takes the assistance of over 250 individuals and
for the first time fly-in organizers were able to say thank you in
a big way Saturday afternoon to two people who had gone above and
beyond the call in their efforts to ensure the success of the show.
Thanks to the gracious donation of flight time from the CAF's B-25
crew and the owner and pilot of the P-51 Red Dog, Al Lerfald and
Marty Skalon received warbird rides they will long remember.
Lerfald produced the event signage hanging throughout the grounds
and Skalon solved numerous electrical issues at the site that
greatly improved safety.
Ramp At Copperstate Fly-In
The crowd stayed late into the afternoon, lining the edge of the
parallel taxiway to watch departing showplanes make demonstration
passes before they headed off for home.
Fly-In Chairman Jim McChesney received many positive comments
from those in attendance who appreciated the county fair-like,
family fun environment at Copperstate. "We've created an atmosphere
like the way fly-ins were in the late 1960s and early 70s. It's a
mellow, calm, enjoyable fly-in. Nobody is showing off, but the
pilots are showing their airplanes well," said McChesney. "I think
we're doing it right."
The 2011 Copperstate Fly-In will be held October 20-22.