By Mark Weiss
Since its first event in 1973, Copperstate Fly-In has been bringing together aviation enthusiasts not only from the Valley of the Sun and the state of Arizona but also from across the United States. A few have even attended from overseas. Everyone in the aviation community has heard of EAA Airventure. Many pilots and enthusiasts make the annual pilgrimage in July to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, to attend this holy grail of air shows. Live in the eastern half of the U.S. and want to attend something somewhat smaller but with the same feel as Airventure? Then Sun ‘n Fun in Lakeland, Florida, has you covered. But this leaves a huge void for those living in the far western United States. The good folks that run Copperstate Fly-In are working hard to fill that void. Expansion plans are under way to continue growing Copperstate Fly-In into a regional aviation extravaganza.
What exactly is the Copperstate Fly-In? For those not familiar, Copperstate Fly-In, Inc. is an all-volunteer run, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting recreational and general aviation through events, scholarships, and public education. Proceeds from the Copperstate Fly-In help support scholarship programs for youth seeking careers in the aerospace industry. In the spring of each year, the Copperstate Scholarship Committee selects four young adults, ages 16-18, to attend EAA Air Academy in Oshkosh, Wisconsin the following summer. Selection is done through a competitive essay process which is outlined on the Coppestate Fly-In website—copperstate.org. Copperstate invites all young adults that are eligible to apply!
Up until 2018, Copperstate Fly-In had been held at many airports in the Phoenix area. Phoenix Regional (now Ak-Chin Regional), Williams-Gateway, Casa Grande Municipal, and Falcon Field are just some of the local airports that have hosted the fly-in. In 2018, the Copperstate Board of Directors took a leap of faith and partnered with the Buckeye Air Fair. The Buckeye Air Fair is now held annually in February at the Buckeye Municipal Airport (KBXK) and emphasizes a science/technology theme for grade school and high school students. The city added an air show in 2017 and became a bona fide aviation event. The Copperstate Fly-In elevates the Buckeye Air Fair by adding aviation exhibitors, forums, and workshops and attracting more pilots and airplanes. The partnership has certainly raised the bar for any aviation event west of the Mississippi River. The Air Fair/Fly-In has become the third largest air show in the United States with an annual attendance of 35,000+ people!
The 2022 show will be held February 17-20 and promises to be a fun-filled, action-packed affair for everyone. After a year off due to the pandemic, Buckeye and Copperstate wanted to introduce something new to the show to make it even more exciting. We are pleased to welcome STOL Drag competition! See legendary pilots and YouTube sensations race wingtip-to-wingtip. It’s an intense action, high-energy show sure to be a crowd pleaser. Contestants take off from the start line side-by-side and fly low level 2000 feet down the runway to the turn-around line, land, make a 180 degree turn, take off again and fly to the finish line. Anyone can become a STOL Drag competitor by taking the required training course offered by STOL Drag Events LLC. The course has received FAA National Accreditation. For more information, check out the STOL Drag website—stoldrag.com. This course may be offered at Copperstate; check on copperstate.org and/or stoldrag.com for updates.
More highlights of the 2022 Copperstate Fly-In you won’t want to miss:
- ·Air show on Saturday and Sunday, noon until 2pm featuring:
- ·Jeff Overby – air show announcer
- ·Jon Melby – flying aerobatics in his Pitts Bi-Plane
- ·Jeff Boerboon – flying THE one-of-a-kind, jet-powered YAK 110
- ·Brad Wursten – flying aerobatics in his ultra-sleek MXS-R
- ·The Vanguard Squadron – a four-ship formation of RV3s burning ethanol fuel
- ·Buckeye Radio-Controlled Flyers
- ·12,000sq.ft. exhibit hanger with NEW LIGHTING provided by AeroLED!
- ·Expanded camping area!
- ·100+ slots
- ·Hot shower
- ·Campground open Mon Feb 14 thru Mon Feb 21
- ·First come, first serve, $15/night
- ·Airplane camping FREE
- ·Field trip Friday (9am-3pm)
- ·1600+ Buckeye grade school students attending
- ·Pattern flight demonstration by Mike Gardner with Jeff Overby announcing
- ·Walk through Air Fair/Fly-In, listen to pilots talk about their airplanes, answer questions
- ·Arizona Military Vehicle Collector’s Club (AMVCC)
- ·Forums – led by the FAA, vendors, and special guests
- ·Workshops – get hands on experience with sheet metal, fabric, and composites
- ·Science/Technology displays and flight simulators
- ·Kid’s Zone
- ·Rides/playground for the little aviators
- ·Wristbands can be purchased at the event for $10
- ·Food vendors/Beer vendors!
- ·A&P services available by Mike Gardner of Buckeye A&P Service located on the airport 623-764-6508
Admission to the event is still free. However, to help offset rising costs, Buckeye Air Fair and Copperstate Fly-In will be implementing a parking fee for the general public. Current pricing is set at $10/vehicle if purchased online in advance at buckeyeairfair.com. If paying at the gate, the price will be $15/vehicle (cash only). There is no parking fee for aircraft. If you would like to have your plane judged, please check in at the aircraft registration tent. The fee to have your aircraft judged is $35 and includes one banquet ticket. Where else can you get so much entertainment for so little money?
One last topic before closing. Copperstate Fly-In is an all-volunteer run event. It would not happen if it were not for the generosity of those who step up each year to donate their time and talent. Please consider volunteering and joining this group of dedicated individuals. Volunteer sign up only takes a minute and can be done online. And yes, volunteers park for free AND get a free lunch! The Copperstate website will always have the most up-to-date information. You can always contact Copperstate with your questions through the website. You may also reach out to:
FLY SAFELY AND SEE YOU FEBRUARY 17-20, 2022, AT THE COPPERSTATE FLY-IN!