AOPA's Centennial of Flight Sweepstakes - First Waco ride winner takes to California skies

November 11, 2009

First Waco ride winner takes to California skies

Shannon Elliott, an ATP pilot from Lafayette, Louisiana, took to the skies over Long Beach, California, on July 13 to become the first AOPA ride winner to fly in a Waco F5C open-cockpit biplane similar to the Waco UPF-7 that is being refurbished for AOPA by Rare Aircraft in Owatonna, Minnesota. Elliott won the ride in a monthly drawing and was chosen at random from among all AOPA members. Actually, Elliott, who has logged "more than 4,500 and less than 5,000 hours," took the controls and did all the flying. The reason? Elliott's uncle owns two Boeing Stearmans, and the two pilots fly together all the time. Elliott likes the challenge of conventional (tailwheel) landing gear. His first airplane was a Piper PA-20. "The Waco flew just like my Stearman, except that it's much, much faster." Elliott smiled at the end of the flight that featured "some aileron rolls, a few hammerheads, a loop" and said, "That was some good flying." The ride was provided by Waco operators Mike and Kendle Hanson of Long Beach, California. To contact them, call 562/427-9433, or visit the Web; e-mail kendle@biplanefun.com.

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Waco F5C, with monthly winner Shannon Elliott in the rear cockpit and Waco owner Mike Hanson in the front, flying off the California coast with Catalina Island in the background.
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First Waco flight, with Shannon in front and Mike in back.
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Waco over the California coast.
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Monthly winner Shannon Elliott (right) receives his Waco flight certificate from AOPA Senior Vice President of Communications Keith Mordoff.