The Waco experience: 'This was really cool!'

September 17, 2008

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AOPA member Tom Smith
during his Waco experience

That's Tom Smith's emphasis in the headline, not AOPA's. Smith of Mineola, Texas, is one of the monthly winners in AOPA's Centennial of Flight Sweepstakes who recently claimed his prize—a trip to Sedona, Arizona, for a half-day's flying in an open-cockpit Waco similar to the sweepstake's grand prize.

"I realized I had taken to flying as an efficient mode of transportation and that the thrill had somehow been left behind," said Smith. "If nothing else, the Waco experience brought that back, and hopefully, I won't lose it again."

Smith is one of the 24 monthly winners chosen to experience flight in an open-cockpit biplane like the fully restored 1940 Waco UPF-7 biplane that is the grand prize in the Centennial of Flight Sweepstakes. Red Rock Biplanes provides the ride. Smith and all of the monthly winners also receive a leather flight jacket with the Waco logo on the back and a plaque commemorating their flight.

During a stop along their route, Smith said, "Standing at the FBO looking out across the line, the Waco stands out among the array of 'modern' aircraft. It was drawing more attention than the two Gulfstreams on the ramp. It was truly an awesome sight."

He described the Waco this way: "Is it a cross-country, get-there plane? Not a chance. Is it a cross-country, see-everything plane that makes flying around the patch or the $100 hamburger trip a thrill on a glorious flying day? You betcha!"

Anyone who joins or renews membership in AOPA during the two-year sweepstakes period is automatically entered. Complete rules and eligibility requirements are available at AOPA Online.

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