August 21, 2013 - For the first time in its 40-year history, Arizona's Copperstate Fly-In will operate on an uncontrolled airport due to recent actions by the FAA. The organization made the decision after weighing all options and ensuring safety would not be jeopardized.
Not only was Copperstate told it would have to pay for previously provided ATC salaries, overtime, and travel expenses, as was the case at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, but the FAA also deemed the military surplus control tower that Copperstate has used for the past 10 years "unsuitable for control use."
Copperstate officials said the cost of an FAA-approved control tower would be added to the event's bill. Using that information, Copperstate officials decided to keep the fly-in site at Casa Grande Municipal Airport (CGZ) as a non-towered airfield in 2013.
Because of the lack of ATC presence, there is no NOTAM for the event, but a Notice to Pilots is available for those planning to fly to the event. This is provided as a courtesy, and all operations for the event are at the pilots' risk and discretion.
To remove the operational complexity of previous years created by special traffic patterns for local flights, such as passenger rides, factory demos, showcase, etc., all pilots will follow standard recommended practices for operations at non-towered airports.
Copperstate is a volunteer-run, nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and prides itself on running a "lean and mean" fly-in to be able to maximize the funds available to fulfill its mission of providing scholarships for young men and women seeking careers in the aerospace industry.
The Copperstate Fly-In kicks off October 24-26 in Casa Grande and additional information can be found on the Copperstate Facebook page.