Traveling via Airstream is great, but I also love being able to park at an event and spend the night. At the end of a day at the fair, jam, balloon fest or rally it’s really nice to just retire to your home rather than getting in the car to drive away. When you’re camped at the event, you’re usually away from the general parking crowd and close to the action, too. That’s why we took the Airstream to the Copperstate Fly-In rather than just making a long daytrip out of it (80 miles from our home in Tucson).
The Copperstate Fly-In is not so large that access is a problem even for casual visitors, but still it was nice to be camped just a few feet from the flight line. The RV camping area is just a dusty parking lot with white chalk lines to delineate sites — nothing fancy at all. No hookups, just blue porta-potties and trash cans. For $10 a night it was a decent value because of the proximity. We could see the aircraft taking off without even leaving our site, and easily hear when some warbirds were starting up for some formation flying.
The only downside for us was the generators. Quiet hours were posted for nighttime, but during the day several RV’ers left their generators running up to six hours. We were unlucky enough to be parked near several of them, and the fumes were constant. I’ve seen many cases where people did this in hot weather because they (or their pets) needed air conditioning. Dealing with heavy generator use seems to be a regular factor when we attend these sorts of events.
Being October in the Sonoran desert, we could have gotten any kind of weather. We were lucky enough to get near-perfect weather for a fly-in: highs in the low 80s, clear skies, and not much wind to kick up dust. Visibility was typical for this area, about 20-30 miles. Like most fly-ins, access to the airplanes and the owners was excellent, so we could walk up and talk to anyone about anything we saw on the field.
I spent a lot of time with the Cirrus guys and sat in the SR-22 G3 Turbo X (fantasizing), and also chatted with owners of powered paragliders, warbirds, biplanes, helicopters, and light sport aircraft. There were also amphibious aircraft, homebuilts, and a gyrocopter.
By the way, Emma was very comfortable in the Cirrus’ back seat, and it looks pretty easy to fly. Does anyone want to make a donation? I just need another $600,000 to buy it.
If you want to see more pictures from Copperstate, check out my Flickr album. I uploaded 156 photos there, enough to satisfy all the airplane buffs in my audience, I hope.
We spent three nights camped at Casa Grande Municipal Airport, so there was plenty of time for side trips to the area around Phoenix. One stop we made was to the Queen Creek Olive Mill, to take the $5 tour. It’s a relatively brief one, involving an informative talk about olives, olive oil, and the pressing process, and then a quick look at the room where the extra-virgin oil is pressed out. The pressing machine itself is the least interesting thing. It’s basically a large box from which oil and “pomace” (leftover olive bits after pressing) come out. But the guide and informative signs all around are educational, and the gift shop/restaurant are well done. I recommend the gelato.
This trip is one of the very few times we’ve done an “out and back” short trip from our winter home base. The nature of these trips changes a lot of our assumptions about how we travel and what we do. Most people do only these sorts of trips, but for us it is the exception, and we are still getting used to it. Some aspects are really great, like the low fuel consumption. In four days we used only 1/2 a tank of fuel including 140 miles of towing and about 150 additional miles not towing. Other aspects are not so great, like the day we spent re-packing the Airstream.
If there were more multi-day events available in the area with RV parking, I think we’d do more … something for event organizers to consider. I certainly intend to take my own advice. Here’s a sneak preview. Next year, Airstream Life magazine will be hosting a major event. It should be great fun, with seminars, vendors, entertainment, a barbecue, and much more. It will be open to all RV owners (Airstream and non-Airstream, new and vintage), but be warned, if you show up in an non-Airstream trailer we will convert you on the spot! As to location, all I can say is that it will be east of the Mississippi. I can’t reveal more at this time but there will be a formal announcement with all the details sometime in November.
The corollary to this is that the popular Vintage Trailer Jam will not be back in 2010. The co-sponsors of the event have decided not to continue with it. We all had fun but we’ve decided to let it go. So if you’ve got time next summer, keep an eye open for the new event.