By Bob Shane
The 33rd Annual Copperstate Regional EAA Fly-in was held October 6-9 at Casa Grande Municipal Airport in Casa Grande, Ariz. The change in location from Phoenix Regional Airport, where it was held last year, was made because show organizers felt Casa Grande could better satisfy the event’s special needs.
Gone was the big main exhibitor tent that had become a Copperstate trademark. This year, over 100 vendors displayed their products in a comfortable air-conditioned building. According to show officials, the new exhibit hall was sold out.
As is the case every year, there were a number of new aircraft on display. Show goers in the manufacturer’s area could view the sexy looking ViperJet Mark II. Its awesome performance wowed those in attendance on Friday when it put on a flight demonstration.
The air show part of the program was packed with an abundance of aerobatic action. Performers included Frank Donnelly (“Dr. D”) in a Taylorcraft, Randy Harris in his Skybolt 300, Rob Harrison flying his Zlin 50XL, Jeff Mawhinney in his Zivco Edge, Sonny Weller flying a Pitts S-2B, Ed Hamill in his Pitts S-2C, Jason Stephens flying his MDM-1 Fox and Greg Medford in his Chinese Nanchang CJ-6A. Dee Grimm headed up the warbird fly-bys, leading a flight of CJ-6s.
The aircraft winning the Grand Champion award was “Symmetry,” Cory Bird’s homebuilt. Bird, from Mojave, Calif., is an engineer at Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites. His composite aircraft is so impeccable that it has been touted as possibly the closest to perfection of any homebuilt in the world. Its flowing lines and glossy surface makes it look more like art than airplane. It has nine coats of hand-rubbed acrylic urethane and the few screws in its skin are practically invisible.
While exact attendance numbers weren’t provided this year, show organizer Bob Hasson feels the show was “well attended.” The overflow aircraft parking area was in use by early Friday afternoon. The one negative event occurred Saturday afternoon when a good old-fashioned Arizona dust storm descended on the field.
Casa Grande Municipal Airport, eager to host the annual event, has reportedly committed to building a special events area on the north side of the runway. This area will have grass for aircraft parking and camping. There will also be a permanent runway built for ultralight aircraft. A paved area for aircraft parking and a large exhibit building are also planned. It sounds like the Copperstate has finally found its permanent home.
A complete list of show winners can be found at [http://www.copperstate.org].