No Temporary Tower at Copperstate Fly-In

Arizona fly-in forced to operate uncontrolled.

Copperstate Logo

Copperstate Logo

The FAA’s insistence on charging airshows for ATC services has caused the organizers at the Copperstate Fly-In, set to take place October 24-26 in Casa Grande, Arizona, to make a tough decision. The airplanes flying in for the show will have to fend for themselves.

With approximately 500 aircraft attending the three-day show, this could present a real safety hazard as pilots will have to sequence themselves for takeoffs and landings at the Casa Grande Municipal Airport (KCGZ). Since there will be no temporary tower, there will also be no Notam or special procedures in effect for the fly-in. The Copperstate website includes a “Notice to Pilots” that recommends standard non-towered operations while exercising extreme caution due to the number of airplanes expected in the area.

The Copperstate Fly-In has taken place for more than four decades and, with approximately 5,000 attendees and 500 aircraft flying in, the organizers claim it is the biggest airshow of its kind in the western United States. ATC controllers have previously provided services to the pilots flying in. While there was no exact number for the ATC user fee, a news release from Copperstate said it would be “many thousands of dollars, to cover controller salaries, overtime, travel and other expenses,” and that the fee would likely eliminate the scholarship program supported by the proceeds from the fly-in, a decision the organizers were not willing to make.

The user fee imposed on AirVenture Oshkosh, the biggest fly-in in the world, was initially set at $650,000. The EAA negotiated that figure down to $450,000 and the organization is fighting a legal battle with the FAA to get that money back.

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