Big load haulers dominate Southwest regionals

March 22, 2012

While many pilots are preparing to aim their airplanes at Florida to attend "Spring Break for Pilots" at Sun 'n Fun, it appears from the active voting in AOPA's Favorite Aircraft Challenge that many are still watching the action unfold in Round Two of the Southwest regionals. Let's recap how your favorite aircraft fared and see what might happen in Round Three.

Vote Now!

FAC logo

Head over to the Favorite Aircraft Challenge page to place your votes.

Southwest Regional Round Two results: The sexy Cessna Mustang certainly brought a quality contingent of cheerleaders to its contest against the Beechcraft Bonanza, but the eye candy factor of the Mustang was not enough to beat the Bonanza, which advances easily. Against the Cessna 208 Caravan, the shiny new Cessna Corvalis brought speed and a stylish composite physique to the party. But the Caravan—led by the 250+ flying freight trucks of the FedEx fleet—carried the load to make it through to the third round.

In the tightest battle yet in this challenge, the Cessna 210 pulled out the slimmest of margins against its little brother, the Cessna 205/206. The Stationairs came in “strutting” their stuff, but when the dust settled, court-side observers said this one was too close to call until the very end, with the 210 advancing. And even though the highly capable Cessna 180/185 brought a respectable reputation to tip-off against the mighty Douglas DC-3, there is simply nothing that can touch the indestructible nature of the Douglas, one of aviation's greatest performers. Like the P-51, the DC-3 has been taking its opponents down in blowout style, and the Gooney claimed the win to send the Skywagon home.

Southwest Region Round Three predictions: The Beechcraft Bonanza contest against the Cessna 208 Caravan will be one for the ages. The Bonanza brings poise, intelligence, and that crazy-cool V-tail to this challenge, and will benefit from having AOPA Pilot Editor in Chief Tom Haines (a proud Bonanza A36 owner) on the bench analyzing the Caravan's defense. But the 208 will counter with a strong, dependable PT6A power plant and this one should go to the final buzzer, where the Bonanza hangs on to win with only seconds left on the play clock.

In the final Round Three contest in the Southwest, the Cessna 210 will wish it had wing struts to hold the airframe together when the Douglas DC-3 blows by it on the way to the fourth round. Rumor has it that Duggy, the bright yellow "Smile in the Sky," has been recruited out of North Dakota for the Douglas squad, and will be the power forward for this model. It'll make everyone in the arena feel good about sending the 210 back to Wichita in another blowout.

West Region voting opens: The last day of Round Two voting goes to the West Region, where results from the first week of voting have matched up the Cessna 182 and Lake Amphibian, Piper Cherokee and T-6 Texan, Socata TBM 850 and Piper Super Cub, and the Grumman F8F Bearcat and de Havilland Beaver. Will these matches be too close to call or blowouts? You decide— vote now!

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.