AOPA's 2001 Bonanza Sweepstakes

A High-Flying Airplane for a High-Flying Winner

April 1, 2002

New Mexico pilot wins the AOPA Sweepstakes Bonanza

In September 2000, N14422, a somewhat-neglected 1966 Beechcraft V35 Bonanza, was chosen to become the 2001 AOPA Sweepstakes airplane. That project ended on the last day of February 2002 in Mineral Wells, Texas, as Norm and Joyce Elliott gazed in amazement at their new airplane.

Norm Elliott of Los Alamos, New Mexico, is the lucky winner of this totally refurbished and upgraded Beechcraft Bonanza. And he and his wife couldn't be happier. "We're going to fly this a whole lot," reported Joyce as she sat in the copilot seat. Both Norm and Joyce were astounded at their good fortune. "It's just overwhelming," said Joyce. "We don't play the lottery or do any betting so we didn't believe we had won."

When it passed a rigorous prepurchase inspection the pre-refurbishment sweepstakes Bonanza had 3,220 airframe hours and 1,440 hours since factory overhaul on the 285-horsepower Continental IO-520 engine. Among the first steps in the evolution of the sweepstakes Bonanza were removing the high-time engine, replacing it with a 300-hp IO-550 Superior Air Parts Certified Millennium engine, and then mating that to a Tornado Alley Turbos turbonormalizer system. A new McCauley three-blade propeller completed the transformation. This potent and flexible firewall-forward combination now has more than 80 hours since installation, and the performance has been stimulating, to say the least. A V35 Bonanza normally flies along at approximately 165 knots — it's not unusual to see 185 to 190 knots from the AOPA Sweepstakes Bonanza.

Norm listened intently as I explained the basic ideas behind the Tornado Alley Turbos wide-open throttle/lean-of-peak (WOT/LOP) engine operating philosophy. The WOT/LOP method was used with good results both by me and by AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne as we flew the Bonanza during the year.

Norm holds both commercial pilot and CFI certificates, is instrument- and multiengine-rated, and has been an AOPA member since 1982. The Bonanza is his fourth airplane. He was a partner in a Cessna 182, then owned a Piper Warrior before purchasing a Mooney 201, in July 1998. Norm, who flies his normally aspirated Mooney from Los Alamos Airport at 7,171 feet, said he is looking forward to the high-altitude capabilities of his new airplane.

"When I told my family about winning an airplane, they asked if it could make it all the way to Cleveland," said Joyce, who grew up in Ohio. Her husband thought their new airplane might be able to make that trip. "We recently took a trip from Los Alamos Ko Las Vegas in our Mooney — that's a good trip for that airplane," he said.

Both the Elliotts were visibly excited as they got their first look at their big prize. "It's the most beautiful Bonanza I've ever seen," said Norm a few seconds after his shiny new Bonanza filled his field of vision.

After AOPA President Phil Boyer presented a symbolic key to Norm, the couple was shown some of the more noticeable external modifications such as the J.L. Osborne wingtip fuel tanks, TKS weeping-wing ice protection system, Beryl D'Shannon vortex generators and Speed Sloped windshield, and Murmer Aircraft Service paint job. Following that, Mike Keirnan, Meggitt/S-Tec's director of flight engineering, guided the proud new owners around the instrument panel. Joyce immediately eased into the soft leather covering one of the backseats. "There's a lot of room back here," she said.

Avionics city

After the engine installation was complete, the sweepstakes Bonanza was flown to J.A. Air Center at DuPage Airport west of Chicago for airframe refurbishment and upgrades, and the installation of a cutting-edge avionics suite. The list of work done by J.A. filled four logbook pages. Their technicians crafted a completely new instrument panel featuring a full stack of Garmin avionics, including one each of Garmin's GNS 430 and 530 models, both of which feature color multifunction displays with GPS, nav, and com functions in a single box. Other goodies included an Avionics Innovations AM/FM/CD player and an S-Tec Fifty-Five X fully coupled autopilot with features such as altitude preselect and a built-in yaw damper.

As the avionics were powered up, Norm started looking over his new instrument panel and chuckling with joy.

"I've always said to give you knobs and buttons and you'll be happy. Do you think there are enough knobs?" his wife asked from the backseat.

"It's just overwhelming," offered Norm, as his eyes tried to take in all the data presented on four MFD screens within arm's length. In addition to the two Garmin screens already mentioned, the Meggitt electronic flight instrumentation system (EFIS) presents data on two screens mounted directly in front of the pilot. Certification of the Meggitt system was not finished when the aircraft was presented to the couple, but it should be complete in time for the spring flying season.

"We're going to fly this a lot. I feel sort of guilty because this airplane is a whole 'nother realm of comfort. The Mooney was pretty nice, but?," Joyce said, a big smile flashing across her face. "We're going to have some fun."

That Air Mod interior

The touch that ratcheted up the comfort level was a custom interior by Dennis Wolter and his crew of nit-picking experts at Air Mod. In addition to many special features such as individual reading lights and custom-fitted seats, a sound-suppression package by Skandia Designs was installed. This, combined with thicker windshield and side windows from Beryl D'Shannon, lessened cabin noise considerably.

Norm flew his Mooney 110 hours last year. To help the Elliotts get introduced to their Bonanza, the American Bonanza Society is contributing one year's membership, enrollment in the acclaimed Bonanza/Baron Pilot Proficiency Program, and an airplane inspection at an ABS service clinic. When asked about being a two-airplane family, the Elliotts said they would probably sell the Mooney to make room in their hangar for the Bonanza.

"Norm just turned 50 in January. This is quite a birth=day present," said Joyce. "I think it will keep him from getting bored because now he will have a new challenge."

It sounds like a tough job, but someone has to do it, and if the size of those smiles is any gauge, Joyce and Norm Elliott are the couple for the task.


Taking on the Tax Man

If you win, you'll find the FARs easy to deal with compared to the IRS rules

One of the most oft-asked questions regarding our sweepstakes project is, "How much will the taxes be?" The question comes up so much and is asked with such trepidation that one wonders if some people don't enter the contest for fear of winning — as if somehow the tax bite will be bigger than the prize itself.

It isn't.

The value of a sweepstakes prize is taxed as income in the year in which the prize is delivered. So, since AOPA typically delivers its sweepstakes prize in February, any winner actually has more than a year to enjoy the airplane before the tax man taketh on April 15 of the following year. However, because of the tax liability inherent in any such prize, a winner really should consult a tax advisor immediately. In order to avoid penalties, it may be necessary to make quarterly tax payments the year the prize is delivered.

On the April 15 that the tax is due, a winner whose family is making, say, $70,000 per year and has normal deductions may find himself owing an additional federal tax of approximately $104,000. This does not include any applicable state income tax, since tax rates vary from state to state.

Few people have that kind of cash lying around to pay taxes. So one choice is to sell the airplane to pay the tax. In this case, if the airplane sold for $300,000, the person could pay the federal taxes and net $196,000, basically enough to pay your state income taxes and buy another very nice airplane, pay off the house, put the kids through college, or whatever.

Or a better choice, we think, is to take out a loan against the value of the airplane to pay the taxes. According to the AOPA Aircraft Finance Program, the winner could borrow the amount to pay for federal and state taxes at 8 percent over 20 years for a monthly payment of between $960 and $1,200.

Another oft-asked question: "Why can't AOPA help pay the tax bill?"

Because the more AOPA provides, the greater the tax bill will be. Whether the winnings come in the form of an airplane or in cash to help offset the taxes, the entire amount is considered part of the prize. It's a vicious cycle that the IRS dearly loves to see.

In the end, after the taxes are paid, the winner who sells the sweepstakes aircraft ends up with a nice pile of cash — perhaps to buy another airplane. The winner who keeps his prize has a wonderfully refurbished, unique airplane for a fraction of what such an airplane would cost outright.

Hope you win the next one. — Thomas B. Haines


James Hurst and Jeff Straits contributed to this report.


The Picky Little Stuff

Fine-detail work is accomplished for our Waco UPF-7

With the sweepstakes Bonanza project drawing to a close, work on our next project, a Waco UPF-7 sweepstakes continues. There are tens of thousands of parts in the UPF?7. Constructing each one requires careful, skilled craftsmanship.

Roy Redman and his crew at 0are Aircraft in Owatonna, Minnesota, have accomplished a great deal and are ahead of schedule, but are now working on the smallest details of our 1940 biplane trainer.

Daycleth "Doc" Walker, whom you met in February Pilot (" AOPA Centennial of Flight Sweepstakes: We Have Wings!"), is putting a wood-slat cage on the steel-tube fuselage. The covering will be fastened to it. Dan Pfleger is rebuilding the rudder. Tom Novak is working on the trim systems.

"The slow part is the picky stuff, such as the handles for the fuel valves, the linkages, and control rods with new bearings. I spent days on that," Redman recalls. The goal was to have all the subsystems and controls in the fuselage by March 15.

By the time you read this, the aircraft will have passed its second major stage: preassembly of the uncovered aircraft. The purpose is to make sure everything fits well. After that the aircraft will get plumbing for fuel and wiring. Then it will be time to cover the frame with Ceconite covering material.

If all goes well, the Centennial of Flight Sweepstakes Waco may fly in time to wing its way west toward AOPA Expo from October 24 through 26 in Palm Springs, California. There, you'll get to meet the craftsmen themselves at a special Expo seminar. — Alton K. Marsh


Where Are They Now?

Tracking down past AOPA Sweepstakes aircraft

By Alton K. Marsh

Whatever became of all those airplanes AOPA has given away? In the years since the first sweepstakes, every airplane we've awarded has gone to a new owner — many going on the block within days of our award. A few were kept for several years by the winner. Here's the rundown.

1993 Good As New 172

Our very first sweepstakes airplane stayed with its original winner, dentist Bill Teschner of Fort Pierce, Florida, until three years ago. "I truly miss it. But my wife doesn't fly, and we're motor-homing now," Teschner said. The airplane was sold to Miami-area flight instructor Robert Neuman.

Established in the import/export business, Neuman instructs part time at Dean International, an FBO at Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport where he had placed N172GN in leaseback. It was recently listed on the school's Web site ( www.flymiami.com) as the "AOPA Sweepstakes" airplane and rented for $7 more than the FBO's other 172s.

We're proud of the role our Cessna Skyhawk has played as a personal aircraft and as a trainer. However, a hard landing on a student's first solo recently resulted in a prop strike and a wrinkled firewall. Now being repaired, the Good As New 172 is getting a zero-timed engine and will be good as new again soon, but Neuman has decided to sell it.

Where will it go next? Maybe it will be yours. You can reach Neuman through the flight school or at 800/851-3247 if you want to own AOPA's first fixer-upper sweepstakes airplane.

1994 Better Than New 172

Marshall Stambovsky of Athens, Tennessee, was thrilled to win our much-embellished Cessna Skyhawk, complete with auxiliary fuel tanks. He took pictures of the delivery, realizing only later that he had forgotten to put film in the camera.

The airplane, N172B, was sold to another Tennessee owner, then went to Utah. Finally, it was sold to Edward and Ellie Block of Grandview, Texas, located south of Fort Worth.

In addition to all of the upgrades AOPA made, new features have been added to our decked-out Better Than New 172. "We have a 172 at a Bonanza price," Edward Block joked.

The Blocks have added flashing strobes to the tail and underbelly, installed a Power Flow tuned exhaust system, upgraded the autopilot with an S-Tec GPSS roll-command nav coupler, added a bar-graph engine analyzer, and installed vortex generators on the wings. The vortex generators drop the stall speeds to 38 knots with flaps up, and 30 to 32 kt with flaps down. The slower stall speeds help with landings at Block Ranch, which has a challenging 2,100-foot grass runway with obstacles. "It serves our needs very well and operates out of this strip very comfortably," Block said.

1995 First New 172

The first Skyhawk to roll off Cessna's new assembly line in Independence, Kansas, N172FN, went to Sharon Hauser of San Jose, California. From there it went to a dealer — Flightcraft located in Portland, Oregon — who sold it to Niles Hanson of Eugene, Oregon.

Now the aircraft — which was signed by all of the Cessna workers who built it — resides at Mahlon Sweet Field near Eugene, where it has two important tasks: working for a living and teaching Hanson's son, 17-year-old Henry, how to fly. When the soggy Oregon winter days have ended, Henry hopes to solo the AOPA Sweepstakes airplane.

The aircraft's third job is conducting forest-fire inspections that are flown in conjunction with logging operations. N172FN's charter operation makes enough money to pay its room and board.

Has any new equipment been added? "The way it was equipped was just fine," Hanson said.

1996 First New 182

A 26-year-old flight instructor in Clermont, Florida, Michael Raisler, won the first new Cessna 182 Skylane to come from Cessna's factory in Independence. It went from there diagonally across the United States to Seattle, where Gregory Pinneo is the current owner.

Pinneo has turned N182FN into a vacation machine for himself and his growing family. He recalls especially a 12-day trip through Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, and his favorite spot, Pebble Beach, California, before returning home.

A pilot since 1999, Pinneo acquired the 182 shortly after earning his certificate. He now has his instrument, multiengine, and seaplane ratings as well. "Since it was the first new 182, I thought that if any 182 was going to hold its value, it would be this one. It has good all-around capabilities at an affordable price," Pinneo said. The aircraft had only 100 hours on it when he got it. He has added no new equipment, except for a handheld GPS/com that is mounted to the passenger yoke. That came following a scary evening when he was in instrument meteorological conditions, saw a voltage light come on, and lost all power in the next 10 seconds. He climbed to VFR weather, found a hole in the overcast, and landed safely.

1997 Ultimate Arrow

Flight instructor Paul Perrone of Medfield, Massachusetts, won our well-equipped Piper Arrow. From there the aircraft went to an owner in North Carolina who used it for business and pleasure, putting 900 hours on it. Recently it was sold to Jason Wolfson of Marshfield, Massachusetts, who plans to use it to get his instrument rating.

Wolfson does a lot of night flying, particularly to Nantucket Island. When he first saw the panel lighting of N97UA, he said, "This is absolutely fantastic. This is how an airplane ought to be." That and the safety afforded by the sophisticated avionics clinched the sale. Since AOPA refurbished the Arrow, a Honeywell Bendix/King KLN 94 has replaced the Bendix/King KLN 89B GPS. Also, the Bendix/King KX 155 radios that AOPA installed have been modernized with a Quick-Tune feature that takes frequencies from the GPS database.

To keep track of further adventures of N97UA, you may want to watch Wolfson's Web site ( www.lipidex.com). His wife plans to record there the tales of traveling with their dog, Tucker.

1998 Timeless Tri-Pacer

N198TP (one '98 Tri-Pacer) spent most of its pre-AOPA life in northern Indiana, so it was a coincidence when the aircraft was won by Lee Burton of Indianapolis. Bob Showalter, owner of Showalter Orlando, an FBO at Orlando Executive Airport, was waiting in the wings. He had flown in a Piper Tri-Pacer as a boy and wanted to buy the AOPA IFR-equipped prize from whoever won it. He made an immediate offer that was accepted.

"It's been a joy," Showalter said. It also provided him with one of his most memorable experiences. He sent the aircraft off to Texas with his son, Sandy, who was attending Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. Returning with his son one night, he was 290 miles from Kennedy Space Center when a space shuttle was launched. He was able to watch it through booster burnout and until it went over the horizon — a spectacular show lasting several minutes. His son has graduated and the Tri-Pacer is back in Orlando. Showalter will be happy to show it to you if you stop by.

"You can easily plan a block time: If the destination is 800 [statute] miles away, it takes eight hours; 600 miles away takes six hours; 400 takes four," Showalter joked. (You can do better than that, Bob. The aircraft holds a world speed record of 106 mph between Phoenix and Palm Springs, California — set by yours truly.)

1999 Cessna 206 Aero SUV

AOPA built an aerial camper for the 1999 sweepstakes, and registered it as N206SU for "sport utility" vehicle. It went to a working pilot, fish spotter Carl Rice of Reedville, Virginia. Within days the aircraft was offered for sale, and Fred Mugler of Driggs, Idaho, became the owner. Mugler operates a mountaineering shop in Driggs. Both Mugler and the 206 have had brief problems, but they are fine now. Mugler lost his medical certificate because of diabetes but persuaded the FAA to give it back. ("I buried them in paperwork," he jokes.) He hopes his case inspires other diabetics to fight for their right to fly.

As for the 206, it came under an airworthiness directive on defective crankshafts. The part was replaced free of charge by the manufacturer.

"It has been OK for a year, uses no oil, and runs like a champ. It is a real performer," Mugler said. He needs the performance, given the 6,228-foot elevation of Driggs-Reed Memorial Airport. He uses the Aero SUV to visit the family back in New York and hopes to take it into Idaho's backcountry strips — just what AOPA intended.

2000 Millennium Mooney

The Mooney 201 that AOPA gave away in 2000 (N2014U — 201 for you) has become a working machine, helping to provide legal services throughout Minnesota. Originally won by Alex Thurber of Puyallup, Washington, it was sold the following April to Gary Stoneking of Amery, Wisconsin.

Stoneking's practice is in Minneapolis, but his clients are scattered across the state, in Worthington, Marshall, Duluth, and Caledonia. Work is the aircraft's primary purpose, although Stoneking's son, soon to be a law school student, is getting interested in flying.

Stoneking has added a Tanis heater, an obvious upgrade given his geographic location, and hopes that the autopilot will be completed soon. There was a paperwork holdup at the time the aircraft was awarded by AOPA that remains on the Mooney's to-do list. Stoneking is also considering deicing equipment, since his journeys require IFR flying. We had designed our Mooney's paint scheme to look like an executive aircraft, and that is what it has become.