Coolidge Fly-In 1/4/2014
Article and Photos by Steven Valinski
From October through May, the first Saturday of the month is a special day at Coolidge Municipal Airport in Coolidge AZ. This is when the Coolidge Fly-In takes place. Beginning at around 8am, aircraft from all over Arizona, and other States, can land, have breakfast, purchase fuel, and show off their aircraft to the many aviation enthusiasts present. It is commonplace to see more than a dozen aviation photographers gathered along the runway photographing the aircraft as they arrive and depart, as well as, many aviation enthusiasts meandering throughout the airport grounds.
Coolidge Municipal Airport is a throwback to days gone by. The airport’s large orange-roofed all-wood World War II era hangar is symbolic of the days when it was Coolidge Army Airfield and served as an auxiliary airfield to Williams Field (later Williams AFB). After the war, the relationship with Williams Air Force Base continued. From 1962 to 1992, Coolidge Municipal Airport was utilized by Williams Air Force Base to help train pilots using the Cessna T-37. Today, you get the sense that Coolidge Municipal Airport has not changed much since 1943 which brings on a nostalgic feeling when walking around the airport’s grounds.
Saturday’s Fly-In did not disappoint. A nice selection of privately-owned aircraft made an appearance at the event. Many of the aircraft represented various eras in aviation history, some were over 70 years old. One of the highlights was a six ship formation of vintage military-type aircraft including a pair of North American T-6’s, a Beech T-34A, a pair of Nanchang CJ-6’s, and a Nanchang Yak 18. Other highlights included: a 1946 Cessna 140, a 1946 Aeronca 7AC, a 1946 Luscombe 8A, a 1944 Beech D17S, and a 1942 Cessna T-50 among others. For aviation enthusiasts and photographers, the Coolidge Fly-In is a great experience. You can grab breakfast and spend time talking with other aviation enthusiasts, all while enjoying the fine aircraft. This makes the monthly Coolidge Fly-In one of those “must do” events if you are an aviation enthusiast/photographer in Arizona.