Maine pilot wins Alaskan airplane

May 2, 2011

May Day for Maine pilot James Schoenmann ended in a way that he never expected. Schoenmann received a telephone call from Alaska Airmen’s Association President Adam White informing him that he had won the grand prize in the association’s fundraising raffle, a refurbished and highly modified Piper Super Cub valued at some $230,000. Schoenmann, of Jackman, Maine, has purchased a ticket for the association’s raffle in each of the last three years. This year, the Alaska Airmen’s Association sold some 8,300 tickets for $50 each. Association Executive Director Dee Hanson reports that while the majority of the raffle tickets are sold to out-of-state pilots, only three of 10 aircraft winners over the years have been out of state.

Snapshots of the Alaska Airmen’s Association Trade Show and Conference

The drawing for the grand prize culminated the two-day Alaska State Aviation Trade Show and Conference. Held in an enormous FedEx maintenance hangar at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and presented by the Alaska Airmen’s Association, the two-day show attracted nearly 21,000 people April 30 and May 1, according to Hanson. The annual gathering is timed just before the busy Alaska flying season kicks off.

More than 225 exhibitors reported brisk sales, typical of the Alaska buyers, they say. A high percentage of Alaska pilots use their airplanes for business and thus they spend more than most pilots maintaining and upgrading their airplanes. “Pilots show up here to buy,” said one avionics vendor.

In addition to a robust exhibit hall floor inside the massive hangar, the show featured numerous seminars on aviation safety and getting the most out of flying. Among the speakers was Marcus Paine, a professional aerobatic instructor and airshow performer who spoke about “Upset Recovery and Anatomy of a Spin.” FAA Flight Test Pilot Al Wilson and Dave Swartz, Ph.D., senior engineer of the FAA’s Anchorage Aircraft Certification Office, spoke about the dangers of the “moose stall,” encouraging pilots not to fly tight circles over a moose or anything, using accident statistics to point out the dangers of such maneuvers if pilots doesn’t pay close attention to what is happening with the airplane.

A presentation by Air Serv International shared how pilots can learn more about humanitarian missions in Africa. AOPA Editor in Chief Tom Haines relayed some adventures and tales about his 17 years as editor in chief of the world’s largest aviation magazine in a talk called: “The stories behind the stories, what you didn’t read in AOPA Pilot.”

Outside the hangar, aircraft manufacturers showcased their latest aircraft, including many amphibious airplanes and others on floats, skis, and tundra tires. In addition, the U.S. Air Force showed off an F-22 fighter, a KC-135R tanker/transport, and a C-17 cargo airplane. FedEx and UPS allowed visitors to tour their MD-11 freighters.

The grand prize Super Cub resided inside the hangar and comes on floats, but also includes tundra tires and skis. Refurbished and modified by Dan’s Aircraft Repair, the airplane has a useful load of 800 pounds and includes an extended cargo compartment for carrying skis, paddles, guns, fishing gear, and other goods aft of the cockpit. According to White, Schoenmann was thinking of visiting Alaska this summer and said he is now definitely planning to visit the forty-ninth state to pick up his airplane.