September 23, 2011
At the Friday morning AOPA Aviation Summit keynote, AOPA President Craig Fuller broke the bad news to the rest of the membership: they didn’t win to 2011 Crossover Classic Sweepstakes grand prize – a fully refurbished and restored 1974 Cessna 182P.
Eric Short did.
Fuller surprised the keynote audience, introducing Short, his wife, Pamela, and son, Allen, who is a U.S. Air Force pilot. But Short himself learned he was the winner a couple of weeks earlier – the result of some elaborate subterfuge to get him and the Crossover Classic together.
United Airlines First Officer Eric Short was making his usual 1 a.m. arrival on a trip from San Francisco to Washington’s Dulles International Airport. But he had one more stop after that. Though unplanned by United, it was carefully coordinated by AOPA staffers on a mission: to inform Short that he was the winner of AOPA’s 2011 Crossover Classic sweepstakes.
Choreographing anything in the middle of the night can be a challenge, but with the help of a network of willing accomplices all the elements of the plan came together.
An AOPA staffer with connections at United learned of Short’s schedule. United’s chief pilot at Dulles agreed to pick up Short right at his arrival gate, and then drive him—along with the captain of the flight—to the Signature fixed base operator on the field. Short thought nothing of the shuttle van’s atypical routing on the airport grounds. "Some of these roads are flooded," he was told, and so a different path had to be taken. And it made sense. The Washington area had been experiencing days of heavy rains. It was only after the van went through Signature’s entry gate that Short sensed things weren’t quite right.
That sense grew shortly after the van pulled up in front of two massive hangar doors. As the doors rumbled open AOPA President Craig Fuller emerged, greeted Short inside the van, and told him he was the winner. Understandably bewildered, Short was led into the hangar. There, bathed in spotlights, was the Crossover Classic. Eventually, Short cracked a smile, and then beamed with the realization that he had in fact won.
"A few minutes ago, we were flying 200 people," he said. "And now here I am with a new airplane!"
Short, who lives in Paulden, Ariz., has spent his life in aviation, having graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy and served a 20-year stint in the Air Force. A son followed in his footsteps and is currently flying in the Air Force.
By 2:30 a.m. the festivities were over and Short went to his hotel to rest up for the next day’s trip back to California.
The Crossover Classic is currently on display at the AOPA Aviation Summit’s Airportfest at Hartford-Brainard Airport, but it won’t be long before the Crossover Classic finds its way to its new home – most likely at the Ernest A. Love Field in Prescott, Ariz.
In sum, a fine airplane is finally matched up with a quality winner. It’s a fitting finale to the year-long restoration-and-upgrade process that’s transformed this very special Skylane into one of the more popular sweepstakes projects AOPA has ever pursued.
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