By RaeAnn Slaybaugh
A retired military and TWA pilot trades in the big jets for his own vintage Chinese training aircraft — and rediscovers a 41-year-old passion for deceptively challenging formation flying.
If you’ve ever attended the annual COPPERSTATE Fly-In & Aviation Expo, held every October at the municipal airport in Casa Grande, Ariz., the sight of pilot Derwin “Dee” Grimm in his green 1969 Nanchang CJ-6 training aircraft, with its red-and-yellow Chinese markings, is a familiar sight on Saturday afternoon.
On those days, Grimm is joined by as many as 17 other warbird-aircraft pilots for a multi-point fly-over. For aviation enthusiasts, it’s incredible to see all those CJ-6s, T-34s, T-38s, T-6s, Yak-52s and more flying in formation — but this spectacle isn’t nearly as effortless as it appears.