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My COPPERSTATE Experience

By Alex Panzera, EAA 1040609

Alex Panzera
Alex Panzera

Hello, my name is Alex Panzera. I’m only 10, and this is my first article. So I’m new to this, but here goes. A month ago, my Papa (the editor of this newsletter), my uncle Tony, and I went to Casa Grande, Arizona, for the COPPERSTATE Fly-In. COPPERSTATE is the fourth largest fly-in in the United States, and the place is completely run by volunteers. Last year was my first visit – it was amazing! But this year I decided to be a volunteer, and I learned it’s really important that they have plenty of volunteers there.

Volunteers have some very important jobs. They have them giving out wristbands, making meals, driving the hayride (tram), putting on workshops, driving around on golf carts, selling admission, selling water, parking planes, and making sure all’s well in COPPERSTATE. Not only do they need volunteers, they also need people to put on forums and workshops and set up booths. Without those people, there would be no show. I was there all three days.

Now, if you’re planning to go next year, let me give you some advice: Don’t drive. I rode there with my Papa and my uncle, and we had to leave at 4 a.m. But we got there around 5 p.m. – 13 hours total! The show is worth it, though, so if you can fly there in your own plane, that would be best. They have workshops, but they’re mainly for adults. However, feel free to bring your little munchkin because they also have kid attractions. Take it from me, and I’m a kid. In fact, the first workshop in a row of workshops is for building a wooden wing rib. I did that, and it was pretty fun. I did it last year, too, and it was still just as fun this year. They had us cut strips of wood in a template, then glue on and later staple wooden gussets. I had a little trouble with the stapler, but all in all, it came out pretty good. When we all finished, the men sanded the edges of our ribsand used a rubber stamp to give our projects the EAA seal of approval.

Then I went to the next tent. There we made the sheet metal portion of a wing. First, I had I had to lay out where the holes go, then drill them. After I drilled a hole, I put a Cleco in it. When all the holes were drilled for a row (there were two rows), I used a rivet squeezer to put rivets in the row. For one row, I had put dimples in. The other row, I had to countersink, and then I used the pneumatic hammer with a bucking bar to put the rivets in.

Copperstate
Alex Panzera attending and participating in the sheetmetal workshop presented by EAA volunteers .

Copperstate

I made two of these because my first one wasn’t so good. When I showed my Papa, he said it was good but that I could do better. So I went again and did a really good job the second time.

Next I went to the fabric workshop. Basically, all we did was glue a strip of fabric on a layer of fabric, but after that we glued a piece of fabric on a curved metal tube. There was also a composites workshop, and I was looking forward to it. I had a lot to do that day; I completely lost track of time, so when I went to check the time, the composites workshop was over. But the other three workshops were fun.
 
Also, next to the workshops were five forum booths. There were all sorts of forums which covered rotary engines, new plane designs, how-to’s, and other things like that. They’re very educational and easy to get to.

Copperstate

Copperstate

Chuck Dunlap flew in with his Mazda 13B-powered RV-6 and presented an informational forum on installing and flying the engine.

If you plan on going for more than one day but don’t want to pay for a hotel room, you can just go to the campgrounds at the airport. They bring in a trailer that has showers if you need one. I suggest you bring a bike for you and your kid, because there’s this really cool ditch running through the campgrounds that you can get your exercise on by riding through it. I did that for a long time, riding in and out of that ditch.
 
Volunteering is important, and I did my share for the event. I helped stuff “welcome” bags that were given to the pilots when they registered, and I folded some windscreen wiping rags. But even though volunteering was cool and the forums were informational, everyone went to see the planes. And there were practically millions! By the way, for all you vintage and military fanatics, they had World War II planes and some current military helicopters.

Copperstate
The Apache gunship drew almost as much attention as the B-17.

Copperstate

Copperstate

Copperstate

Copperstate

They had all kinds of airplanes, from ultralight to ultraheavy to experimental and everything in between. They had something for everyone, and that’s just outside. I got to see a lot of the planes up close and meet the really cool people who brought them. A lot of them built their planes, but the best part was getting to climb into the PB4Y-2 Privateer and sit in the pilot’s seat.

Copperstate

Copperstate

Copperstate

There were a lot more switches, dials, and gauges than what I see when I fly with my Papa, but I knew what some of them did such as the airspeed indicator and the altimeter. I learned about them from flying with my Papa.

Inside the huge tent, they had tons of booths with airplane businesses in them, all with something different: from souvenirs to a subscription to CONTACT! Magazine, to an airplane inspection and parts, to this really cool thing you hook to your tail wheel so you can move your plane in and out of the hangar easily, and everything in between.

Copperstate

I’ve only been there twice, but it gets better every time. If you’ve read the post I made on Oshkosh365, you know I’ve started a forum on air shows, but if you haven’t, here’s how. Just sign in to your Oshkosh365 account, go to forums, click on The Red Barn, and click on “All about fly-ins.” Then you’re there. As I say in my post, I give COPPERSTATE five stars.

Copperstate

Copperstate

Copperstate
Scott Casler from Hummel Engines holding court at the front of his decowled Thatcher CX4

Copperstate

Copperstate
Joe Horvath from Revmaster Aviation

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