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The 28th Copperstate Regional EAA Fly-In shines in the sun.
Copperstate isn't the country's biggest regional fly-in, but it may be one of the most closely knit. Volunteers return year after year to help out, and visitors return time after time to ogle the aircraft they dream of owning or to inspect what's new on the aviation front.
By late afternoon on Saturday, the biggest day of the event held October 7-10, 317 show planes crowded the ramp at Williams Gateway Airport in Mesa, Arizona, and 137 more aircraft stood by in other areas of the field. Last year 750 airplanes visited during the four-day event, prompting fears that this year the airport would have to be closed due to overcrowding, but that problem never materialized.
If the local weather forecast was borne out in reality, temperatures during the show broached the century mark, prompting many people to seek shade. The Superstition Mountains northeast of the runway, impervious to the heat, provided a dramatic backdrop for the airshows and fly-bys that riveted the audience's attention each day. For a long weekend, this little corner of the desert was alive with aircraft.
RANS Aircraft (785/625-6346) introduced the S-17 Stinger prototype, a wind-in-your-face design that flew for the first time three weeks before the show. Stinger is a tube-and-fabric, high-wing pusher available with three engines: the 42-hp Rotax 447, the 47-hp Rotax 503SC or the Rotax 503DC, each coupled with an Ivo 68-inch three-blade prop. Ailerons are push tube and cable operated, and the welded steel cockpit cage comes powder coated. Build time is estimated at 100 hours, and no welding, painting or fabric work is required, the company says.
Express Aircraft Company (360/273-8907) flew the new four-place, composite, fixed-gear Millennium design (see details on Millennium's name change below) to Copperstate from Olympia, Washington, and the plane had 23 hours on it. Fine-tuning continues, said company president Larry Olson, but the airplane should be ready for evaluation by the aviation press soon.
March will mark the fifth birthday of Europa Aircraft, and the company is planning a celebration to coincide with Sun 'n Fun 2000, said Michele Buggica, sales and marketing manager. The company's new motorglider should be on hand for the occasion.
The Name Game
Art Sandoval, regional marketing manager for Greentree Financial, announced that shortly before Copperstate, Greentree was purchased by Textron, and the company has been renamed Textron Aircraft …