The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) recently surprised Gary Walters, the recipient of the 2017 AOPA 172 Sweepstakes at Henderson Executive Airport in Henderson, Nevada.
Walters arrived at the airport thinking he was going to meet a potential real estate client. Instead, the line and instructor pilot for Allegiant Airlines who operates a part-time real estate business with his wife found out he won an airplane.
“No way! Come on! You gotta be kidding me!” Walters exclaimed as AOPA President Mark Baker related the news.
“Have you ever won an airplane before?” Baker asked.
“No! How’d I do that?” Walters said.
Walters learned to fly in Burbank, California. He said he’s looking forward to taking the Sweepstakes 172 on a trip to visit family in Southern California.
“We’re going to do some flying,” he said.
Because the Sweepstakes 172 was in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, awaiting the start of EAA AirVenture 2017, Baker and Senior Vice President of Media, Communications and Outreach Tom Haines presented Walters with a set of keys and blown-up photos of the airplane that will soon be his.
The aircraft began its life as N739HW, but AOPA changed the N number to N172WN —“172 Win.”It is the fourth Cessna 172N to go through Yingling Aviation’s Ascend program—a top-to-bottom remanufacturing of aircraft that are tired on the outside and dated on the inside, but can be modernized for half the cost of a new airplane, according to AOPA officials.
The next AOPA Sweepstakes will feature a Piper Super Cub equipped with amphibious floats, hydraulic skis, and tundra tires. The aircraft will make its debut at the SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In and Expo in 2018 before traveling the country and being given away in 2019.