Fly High — in Vintage Style — This Friday and Saturday in Casa Grande
Mesa, Ariz.-based Commemorative Air Force is offering paid flights in five stunning WWII aircraft this Friday and Saturday at the 41st annual COPPERSTATE Fly-In & Aviation Expo — enough to suit any aviation enthusiast’s taste.
CASA GRANDE, ARIZ. (Oct. 22, 2013) — If it’s been a dream of yours to fly in an historic aircraft, then this Friday and Saturday is definitely the time to do it! And you’ll certainly have your choice of “chariots,” thanks to the return of the Arizona Wing of the Commemorative Air Force (AZCAF) — based in Mesa, Ariz. — to the 41st Annual COPPERSTATE Fly-In & Aviation Expo, taking place Thurs., Oct. 24, 2013 through Sat., Oct. 26, 2013.
Choose Your Own Adventure!
The Douglas C-47/DC-3 Skytrain/Dakota (left and below, left) is the newest addition to the AZCAF fleet. This particular C-47/DC-3 began her life as a troop transporter, was later “bone-yarded” at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, and finally bought by Hoover Vacuum Company in the early 1950’s. Hoover overhauled its interior for use as a corporate aircraft; it operated in this capacity until the 1970’s.
She has since been sold and restored again by a private company, and eventually wound up with the Wings of Flight Foundation, or WoF. Today, she is leased by WoF to the AZCAF, which gives the AZCAF leases the aircraft, which provides thousands of paid flights a year.
The price for flight on this historic aircraft is worth every penny for those who appreciate the style and elegance that flying once represented.
Flying on the SNJ/T-6 Texan — a two-person advanced trainer — is for the more brave souls among us with “the need for speed.” As AZCAF explains, the SNJ/T-6 was “the classroom” for most of the Allied pilots who flew in World War II. Called the “T-6 Texan” by the Army Aircorp, the “Harvard” by the RAF, and affectionately known as "the pilot maker" by its crews, the SNJ was designed as a transition trainer between basic trainers and first-line tactical aircraft.
In all, the SNJ trained hundreds of thousands of pilots in 34 different countries. A total of 15,495 of the planes were made. And, though most famous as a trainer, the SNJ also won honors in World War II and in the early days of the Korean War.
“This is a true Warbird ride that will take you back 50 plus years,” states AZCAF.
The Boeing PT17 Stearman/Kaydet is another great option for thrill-seekers. Paid passengers experience the thrill and joy of an open cockpit journey in perhaps the most recognized trainer of all time. They and the pilot embark for a 15- to 20-minute ride, all the while enjoying the majestic journey of bi-plane flying.
For passengers who want a relaxing, low-key flight, the Aeronca L-16 Grasshopper is a fantastic option. he L-16 has performed roles ranging from teaching primary students to fly all across the U.S., to target-spotting, observation, general utility and search-and-rescue. In the 1950’s, many L-16s returned to civilian life, where most shed their wartime paint and resumed life as 7BCM or 7CCM Champs, teaching primary students to fly all across the U.S.
Today, it’s a great way for passengers to see the majestic Southwest scenery from the air.
Last but certainly not least, the CAF will have its B-25 (Mitchell) “Liberator” on hand offering paid flights. Since her restoration was completed in May 2009, she’s been a piece of living history.
Named after Gen. Billy Mitchell, the Army Air Corps' most famous figure of the 1920’s and 1930’s, the North American TB-25N proved to be one of the best American weapons of World War II. The TB-25N Mitchell, a twin-engine bomber that became standard equipment for the Allied Air Forces in World War II, was perhaps the most versatile aircraft of the war.
In early 1960, the military sold this aircraft to a smelter operator in Phoenix, who, some eight months later, sold it to Dothan Aviation in Dothan, Ala., where it joined two other B-25s as agricultural bug sprayers. By the early 1970’s, Dothan Aviation sold the plane to a warbird collector, after which it was bought and sold to a series of different warbird collectors before it was bought by three individuals in the St. Paul/ Bloomington, Minn., area in mid-1979.
n 1981, these three individuals donated the plane to the CAF. Just about every nut and bolt was taken off in its restoration. The Arizona Wing's B-25 is the only WWII combat plane of the 57th Bomb Wing that has been fully restored back to flying status.
Besides paid flights, ground tours of the aircraft are also available Friday and Saturday this week at the COPPERSTATE Fly-In.
ABOUT COPPERSTATE FLY-IN, INC.
Since 1971, the 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, greatest aviation products.
Friday and Saturday admission is $15 each day per person ($13 for active/retired military). A three-day pass for the event is available for $25. Youth 15 and under receive free admission (when accompanied by a paying adult), and parking is free.
For fly-in information, visit the COPPERSTATE Fly-In & Aviation Expo website: www.copperstate.org.
Secretary, Board of Directors/News Media Chair
COPPERSTATE Fly-In, Inc.