Copperstate: Something for everyone

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Article and Photos by Steven Valinski

For the majority of people in the United States, autumn signifies cool temperatures, multi-colored foliage, and the gateway to winter. For residents of the Southwestern U.S., more specifically, Arizona, autumn signifies the start of some ideal weather for aviators and aviation fans alike.

To celebrate and embrace this season, several aviation-related events take place in the Southwestern U.S. One of these, hosted by the Casa Grande Municipal Airport in Casa Grande, Arizona, is the Copperstate Fly-In.

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Scenes from Copperstate

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CASA GRANDE, Ariz. — 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 (CGZ) in late October.

This attendance figure tops the 2012 number by more than 600, according to fly-in officials.

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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.

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Back in formation

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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.

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