We surprised Gary Walters pretty good last week when Mark Baker told him he is the winner of our Sweepstakes 172.

Unlike previous years, we didn’t have an airplane to show him. The 172 was tucked away in a hangar at Oshkosh, waiting for the start of AirVenture. There wasn’t time to fly the airplane from Tennessee (where it had its autopilot installation) to Las Vegas and then to Oshkosh.

So we didn’t give Gary an airplane, but we gave him a set of keys, a nice blown-up photo of the Sweepstakes 172 (exterior and panel), and two sets of Bose A20 headsets.

Gary was able to come to Oshkosh, and on Tuesday he finally got to set eyes on his airplane. If you thought he was excited in our AOPA Live video, you should have seen him at the show.

He says he’s still on cloud nine. And I believe him.

After AirVenture, the 172 goes to  Yingling Aviation so we can check out a newly released service bulletin on the engine. Gary plans to come to Wichita to get checked out in his airplane and fly it home to Henderson, Nevada.

This has been a fantastic sweepstakes project thanks to the hard work of Yingling Aviation and the generosity of our donors, who provided upgrades that make this one of the very best Cessna 172s around. I hope you’ve enjoyed following along. Remember that we’ve got another great sweepstakes project ahead–a Super Cub with floats, skis, and tundra tires.