Copperstate prepares for takeoff

CASA GRANDE, Ariz. — Since 1971, 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 aviation products. It has grown by about 10% a year since it was established. In 2013 it attracted more than 500 aircraft and 5,100 attendees from 10 countries and 39 states.

Now in its 41st year, the 2013 fly-in is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 24, through Saturday, Oct. 26, at the Casa Grande Municipal Airport in Casa Grande, Ariz.

The biggest difference this year will be an expanded youth aviation area, according to Copperstate President Stephen Bass.

“We plan to offer more interactive youth-friendly options,” including a remote-controlled (RC) aircraft area, he says.

More than 60 Phoenix-area Boy Scouts will be on hand for tours of the tarmac to help them obtain their aviation merit badges.

Additionally, free admission is available to youth age 15 and under. In previous years, this exemption only applied to kids 12 and under.

“All this ties into our 2013 fly-in theme: ‘Keeping the Dream Alive,” Bass explains. “We’re finding ways to get young people excited about aviation and flying.”

Over the years, Copperstate earned a reputation as a showcase for homebuilt aircraft in the Southwest. Recently, that reputation expanded as a result of the ever-increasing aircraft diversity, from ultralights, to helicopters, to vintage World War II fighters and bombers.

The wide variety of avionics vendors on hand will be of interest to pilots, according to Treasurer Bob Hurni, who orchestrates the vendor/exhibitors area of the event. Exhibitors include Advanced Flight Systems, Aerotronics, Alcor, Dynon Avionics, JPInstruments, Tosten Manufacturing, Trio Avionics, TruTrak Flight Systems, Val Avionics and Vertical Power, with more on the horizon.

“These are people you can talk to one-on-one about creating, updating or maintaining the panel in your aircraft,” Hurni says.

A welding exhibitor will also be on hand offering live demonstrations, Hurni adds.

Casa Grande Municipal Airport has added more paved areas to the ramp, transforming what was previously unimproved dirt. The newly paved area covers about seven acres.

“That’s good news for Copperstate attendees — including pilots,” says Hurni. “Pavement on an airport in the desert means less dust.”

Copperstate Fly-In will take advantage of this new space by parking motorhome campers on the pavement and expanding its options for overflow aircraft parking.

Hurni says attendees will be drawn — first and foremost — to the plethora of show planes on the flight line, from warbirds and antique planes, to helicopters, to homebuilt and light sport aircraft. The majority of these aircraft will take to the air throughout the three-day event, giving attendees an opportunity to see these aircraft in flight.

Plenty of paid ride options will be available, as well. The Arizona Wing of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF), based in nearby Mesa, is tentatively planning to bring its full complement of World War II aircraft, including the B-17 Flying Fortress “Sentimental Journey,” which rolled off the Douglas assembly line in 1944; “Maid in the Shade,” a B-25 “Mitchell” twin-engine bomber; and the SNJ T-6 “Texan,” a two-person pilot-trainer aircraft.

Or, attendees can take a ride in a biplane, a helicopter or even a T-34.

Anyone interested in volunteering at this year’s fly-in should, prior to the event, contact the appropriate activity chairman. A list of these chairmen can be found on the Copperstate website. In particular, “people-movers” — drivers and back-of-vehicle observers for the tractors and trailers that transport attendees from the entry gate to the flight line — are in high demand.

Flight line operations is another area seeking volunteers, including “wing-walkers,” to assist with aircraft movement. Mandatory training will be provided, but pilot experience isn’t a prerequisite.

Volunteers who sign up before the event to work a minimum four-hour shift receive free daily admission. All volunteers who work a minimum shift can expect a T-shirt, along with access to the volunteer lunch facility.

Complete pilot information for the fly-in is available on the Copperstate website, including arrival procedures, aircraft parking, departure procedures and more. (Click the “Flying In” tab.)

Thursday admission is $5. Friday and Saturday admission is $15 each day per person ($13 for active/retired military). A three-day pass is available for $25. Youth 15 and under receive free admission if accompanied by an adult admission. Parking is provided at no charge.

Tent and RV camping is available for $10 per night. Shower facilities and portable restrooms are available.

For more information: Copperstate.org

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