Of the 57 flying clubs that entered the giveaway, the application from the Nate Abel Flying Club stood out, according to AOPA officials.
AOPA President Mark Baker broke the good news Oct. 13 in a Skype conversation with the club’s officers to tell them their Reimagined Cessna 150 is on the way.
“That’s awesome,” said Nate Abel Flying Club Vice President James Smith, who had been given a mistaken idea about the true purpose of the call and who would be on the other end. Baker surprised him by awarding the association’s Reimagined Cessna 150. “The family is going to be floored, they will not believe it.”
Tom Barry, the club treasurer, said AOPA’s online resources were the key to getting the club started.
“We were able to leverage all of those resources and be successful because of it. All that information was amazing,” he said during the live link between AOPA’s Maryland headquarters and Texas.
Applicants who did not win the prize will still get AOPA support for their effort, said Les Smith, AOPA senior director of Pilot Community Development, and a member of the panel that reviewed the applications for the giveaway.
“Those other 56 clubs have done everything thing there is to do short of obtaining an aircraft, and we want to work with them on that next step,” he said.
The Texas club was named for Nathan Abel, an avid aviator who lost a battle with cancer in 2013 at the age of 39. His passion for flying had inspired many in his community, and beyond. Abel held various pilot certificates and was working to become a flight instructor. His namesake club has already held a “Fly Kids For Nate” fundraiser, and plans to make it an annual event supporting flight training scholarships.
Nate Abel Flying Club will base the Reimagined Cessna 150 at Hicks Airfield, just north of Fort Worth. AOPA teamed up with Aviat Aircraft to restore the Cessna 150 to a like-new condition airplane that a flying club can own and operate at low cost.
The Flying Club 150 Giveaway contest was made possible through AOPA’s flying clubs initiative, which is part of its You Can Fly program. AOPA launched You Can Fly in January 2015 to build a growing and self-sustaining community of active pilots. You Can Fly programs focus on improving student completion rates, bringing lapsed pilots back to the cockpit, introducing young people to aviation careers, and providing a cost effective way to fly and share that experience with a community of fellow pilots, AOPA officials explained.