P-51, DC-3 advance to 'Four on Final’ round

March 29, 2012

As the AOPA Favorite Aircraft Challenge now enters the home stretch toward the finals on April 1 and 2, March 29's round of eight voting was some of the busiest so far in the tournament. By late afternoon some of those Round Four contests were still too close to call, so watch the AOPA website for the latest results after final votes are tallied.

From a field of 64 aircraft that began AOPA's Favorite Aircraft Challenge on March 12, by far the largest group in the competition were typical owner-flown GA airplanes found on most ramps across America. Joining them were 10 vintage airplanes, four warbirds, and a few each of seaplanes, experimentals, aerobatic airplanes, light sport, helicopters, bizjets, and one glider. It was a field that represented all niches of our aviation world and included some of the most popular aircraft of all time.

In March 29's Round Four voting, two contests had clear winners at this writing, while the other two matchups were too close to call. The Cessna 182 versus de Havilland Beaver and Piper J-3 Cub versus Beech Staggerwing battles were statistically even throughout early voting, with these four popular airplanes backed by enthusiast groups who brought plenty of emotion to the voting. (At 5 p.m., the Cub had an edge of 4 percentage points, with 1,166 votes compared to the Staggerwing’s 1,076. The Beaver clung to a less-than-1-percent lead, with 1,125 votes compared to 1,103 for the 182.) Voting closes at midnight; expect results to be posted by 9 a.m. March 30.

Against the P-51 Mustang, the F4U Corsair put up a fight, but could not claim the win. Throughout the day during Round Four voting, the 'Stang—called “the sexiest airplane ever built” by one voter—pulled away early by a wide margin and never trailed to earn a spot in the “Four on Final” semi-final round.

In the other Round Four contest that could be called early, the Douglas DC-3 proved invincible against the popular Beechcraft Bonanza. Like the Mustang-Corsair contest, this one was over not long after it began, with the DC-3 taking an early lead and never looking back. “You can't beat a DC-3 for rugged dependability, cargo hauling and its retro good looks,” said a Douglas fan. “Flying the DC-3 is one of my most proud flying accomplishments...it flies like a big Cub!”

Remember that as the challenge comes down to these last few rounds, your vote is very important. Be sure to vote Friday, March 30, and Saturday, March 31, in the “Four on Final” round to help push your favorite airplane into the championships.

Dan Pimentel, an instrument-rated private pilot based in Eugene, Ore., who has flown more than 425 hours in 16 years of flying, is also an aviation author and writes the  Airplanista Aviation Blog.