Judging by the response, I’d say that 2011′s sweepstakes Cessna 182 is perhaps the most popular of all the airplanes AOPA has given away. This opinion comes via my experience standing by the sweeps Skylane for nearly seven full days at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin–an event that took place from July 25-31. In that time, I can’t tell you how many members stopped by to ogle the airplane. All were stoked by the prospect of winning it.
So what were the most common remarks? The airplane’s max cruise speed (162 KTAS) of course. But Saircorp’s center console drew a lot of admiration, as did the custom leather interior fashioned by sweeps veteran contributor Air Mod. Saircorp wasn’t at Oshkosh, but they should have been. They could have sold dozens of their modular, multifunctional consoles. Go to www.saircorp.com to see the company’s full range of offerings. The paint scheme and paint job were big hits too. Especially for those who saw the bad old, oxidized-to-the-max original paint job at Sun N’ Fun back in April.
Anyway, setup went well, with the airplane off to the side of AOPA’s main tent. There were some rather large patches of bare dirt at our tiedown spot. It didn’t take a brainiac to figure out that any (inevitable) rain would turn all that into a mud pit, so it was off to Lowe’s to buy 14 bags of Cypress mulch. Didn’t think all that would fit in the trunk of my rental (a Ford Fusion) but it did–although we had a low-rider on the way back to the site, if you know what I mean.
Next stop: Walmart. This was the only store in town with a supply of “pool noodles.” Pool noodles are those long, floatable, flexible, cylindrical toys that you can, I don’t know, wrap around yourself when frolicking in a pool. I bought six. Hot pink. Anyway, at $2 a pop, they paid for themselves many times over. Here’s why: you slit the noodles from end to end, then jam the slits onto the wing trailing edges. Now you’ve got protection against people walking into the wings and suffering from head strikes. You know, those awkward hits that yield diamond-shaped imprints on your forehead. Anyone who’s been around Cessnas knows what I’m talking about. I saw several “saves” during the week.
The visitors came hot and heavy, and helping out with plane duty were Marsh, Dave Hirschman, Ian Twombly, Jill Tallman, and Mike Collins. As you might guess, the comments often showed patterns that focused on winning the plane. Here are the most common:
*Why don’t you just give me the keys right now and get it over with.
*Take care of “my” airplane.
*You don’t need to give it away. I’m going to win it.
*How much do I have to give you to make sure you draw my name?
*I’ve been a member for ____ (fill in the blank) years, and never won. This time I’ll get it.
*What’s the retail value of all the upgrades, with labor? Answer: Just north of $400,000.
*What will I pay in taxes if I win? Answer: Tough to tell. The plane is still a 1974 Cessna 182, and will most likely be valued at the high range in Vref/Bluebook terms–and with slim regard to the retail value of the add-ons. The IRS considers the sweepstakes airplane as either a gift or income, depending on who you listen to. In any event, the tax bill should correspond to your tax bracket. If you’re in the 30-percent bracket, then you’ll pay 30-percent of its determined value. Bottom line: get a tax expert to help you here.
And on and on. After you’ve heard the comments long enough they become a platform for some pretty good jokes, and much good humor. In all, it was a great week. We got to meet members and press the flesh. The members got to lay hands on The Object Of Their Desire. A gust front with 65-mph winds did its best to wreck one day, but the airplane survived in good shape. But with a nice coating of dirt.
When you work airshows and stand by a sweepstakes airplane you get to see some odd things. Some are disconcerting when you think about all the work and time that went into the project. To channel my angst, I created a “Rain-man”-style ‘injury book” to document the insults to our/your proud Crossover Classic. Here are some entries:
*People keep trying to force open the baggage door, even though it’s locked. Result: sprung door latch, and a sign taped over the latch saying Please Don’t Touch. I’ll try to get a new latch assembly, but I’m not getting my hopes up.
*One guy pulled the airworthiness certificate, registration, radio station license, and POH out of their pockets and began reading them over. “I wanted to see what year it was” he explained.
*Someone stepped on the left main gear leg fairing, causing a scratch and a crease. This will be fixed shortly.
*A couple visitors saw fit to put their kids in the pilot’s seat. The kids were way too young to know what was going on, and yes, one of them had an ice cream cone.
*Several kids stood on the left wheel fairing.
*One guy pulled the prop through
As far as I know, AOPA is the only exhibitor who lets visitors get so up close and personal with its airplanes. After all, it will be given away, and showing off the airplane is a big part of the popular involvement with the sweepstakes. We won’t change that policy, but jeez, go easy on the old bird! After all, the next stop in the airplane’s itinerary is Hartford, Connecticut, where N182CX will be given away to a lucky winner.
We’ll see you there, between September 22 and 24!