Waco winner readies for first flight

December 2, 2004

Waco winner readies for first flight

Feb. 12, 2004 - While the rest of Houston still grapples with that whole Super Bowl halftime thing, AOPA member Mark Zeller spent this week dreaming about flying the grand prize in AOPA's Centennial of Flight Sweepstakes. AOPA President Phil Boyer surprised Zeller last Sunday at West Houston Airport with the news that he had been randomly selected to win the fully restored 1940 Waco UPF-7 biplane. On Tuesday Zeller was still getting used to the idea of owning the famed bright-red airplane. "I never considered that I would win the Centennial of Flight Waco airplane. Wow! Today it is starting to sink in, and it is just wonderful to be the owner of such a beautiful airplane." This week, in addition to dealing with his new celebrity status, Zeller has arranged for a hangar for the Waco at his home field, Montgomery Airport in Conroe, Texas. As of yesterday, he was finalizing insurance for the airplane and arranging with an instructor to move it to Conroe. Zeller has no tailwheel time, but he is anxious to learn. "I know once I get around it I'll want to fly it." Zeller, like a lot of other members this week, is asking questions about the tax impact of winning a $250,000 airplane. AOPA Pilot addressed the tax question in an article in the April 2002 issue. Meanwhile, work on the 2004 Win-A-Twin Sweepstakes prize, a better-than-new Piper Twin Comanche, continued this week.