March 21, 2012
Just like a certain other basketball bracket challenge, as teams—or in our case, aircraft—are eliminated, what is left in AOPA's Favorite Aircraft Challenge are some stellar matchups. Let's wrap up more second round contests, and try to determine which aircraft in the East Region will make it past the third round:
Head over to the Favorite Aircraft Challenge page to place your votes.
Southeast Region Round Two results: The agile Pitts Special brought out the aerobatic vote and tried using quick handling to stay in the contest against the legendary Piper J-3 Cub. But with history dating back to 1937, the Cub easily won with a strong vintage vote to advance. One of the closest battles yet was the Husky A-1C versus Mooney M20, with the backcountry campers dropping in low and slow to land in 300 feet and cast their votes for the Husky. But the Mooney cranked up the speed late to power into the third round with the win.
In a matchup of two gorgeous biplanes, the classic lines of the Waco UPF-7 faced the brilliant engineering built into the Beechcraft Model 17 Staggerwing. The Waco put up a decent fight, but with styling that was cutting-edge when it debuted in 1932, the Staggerwing never trailed to eliminate the UPF-7. And the Cessna 310 could not penetrate the strong defense of the sturdy Boeing-Stearman PT-17, which won to advance possibly behind the votes of former military pilots who first went skyward in a Stearman.
Southeast Regional Round Three predictions: The round three matchups in this region could not be more exciting, with one “modern” aircraft trying to stay alive against three formidable vintage ships.
The Mooney M20 must bring its “A” game into the matchup against the Piper J-3, which will paint the arena “Lock Haven Yellow” at tip-off. When voting starts, it'll come down to this: Every aviator alive either has flown a Cub or wants to someday, and this one's all Piper, which moves on with its slow, predictable game that is so much fun to watch.
The Staggerwing versus Stearman contest is a tougher contest to pick. Anyone who has ever stood next to a Staggerwing knows these beautiful, exotic ships deserve their vote. But the Stearman is the quintessential example of all that is cool with vintage aircraft. When you factor in everyone who has ever downed a few Red Baron Pizzas while attending a certain major airshow in Wisconsin, it seems impossible for the Staggerwing to stay alive. This one may be decided at the buzzer, with the Stearman earning a matchup against the cute but very popular Cub.
Southwest Region Round Two open for voting: The Southwest Region sets the Beechcraft Bonanza against the Cessna Mustang and Cessna 180/185 against the Douglas DC-3. Also in the bracket, four popular Cessnas face off against one another: Corvalis takes on the Caravan while the 210 and 205/206 battle to advance. Who will make it? It depends on your vote!
Dan Pimentel, an instrument-rated private pilot who has racked up more than 400 hours in 16 years of flying, is also an aviation author and writes the Airplanista Aviation Blog.
AOPA President Mark Baker and AOPA Foundation Executive Director Jim Minow are challenging one another to see who can recruit the most Hat in the Ring Society members for the foundation before the end of the year.
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