The Arizona Flying Circus began in 2003 when a few local Phoenix paramotor pilots wanted to create an annual gathering. We decided to have the event at Phoenix Regional Airport, a small airport near Maricopa, Arizona, now called Ak-Chin Regional Airport. Paramotoring, or powered paragliding (at the time a guyed owned the trade name "paramotor" and sued anyone who used it) was a new obscure sport and only a handful of us in the valley flew "powered paragliders".
Now that we had decided on the location we needed a name and after a few beers and deliberation "The Arizona Flying Circus" was born with a nod to Monty Python. The first AFC was a paramotor-only event and turned into a bit of a disaster as it rained the entire weekend. The few of us in attendance fondly remember it as the "Mud Bowl". Unfortunatly, these were the days before cellphone cameras and no photos exist. (If anyone has any photographs please send them to us.)
A couple of years later we moved the location to the Franciso Grande Hotel. A highrise hotel located in the middle of nowhere west of Casa Grande that was once the spring training camp for the L.A. Dodgers. The long unused baseball fields made perfect launching areas for paramotors. This was a big change for us and a very unique fly-in. You could stay in a nice hotel room and in the morning walk out and fly away, then come back and have dinner in the restaurant, and a drink at the bar. While pilots were flying their non-flying significant others could visit the spa, hang out at the pool, or play golf. During this time the AFC began to grow and we accepted our first vendors.
Unfortunatly, the Francisco Grande decided to develop the old baseball fields into a sports facility and we lost our flying fields, but around this time Mo Shelden purchased 80 acres in Vekol Valley. The property was very remote and included an airport and shooting range. It was the ideal location to create a temporary community of liked minded people. An autonomous collective :). A place where we could come together each year and celebrate freedom through flying, art, music, food, guns, explosions, and fire. Our current home has seen rapid growth in attendance and we soon added more vendors, food trucks, RV parking, live music, and a catered Saturday night dinner. The runways and open spaces have allowed us to expand to many different forms of aviation in addition to paramotors, including general aviation, ultralight, parachuting, and hot air balloons. We have come from a few local powered paraglider flyers in a muddy field to hundreds of aviation enthusiasts, as well as non-pilots, many from around the world.