Buy a sectional, win an airplane

May 20, 2013

Michael Wolf, Sporty's president, talking to Sweeps winner Christopher Boyle on the phone.

Until May 18, little did Christopher Boyle know that the purchase of a $9 sectional would win him an airplane, but win he did—as he found out in a telephone call Saturday from Michael Wolf, president and CEO of Sporty’s Pilot Shop. Before a crowd of a couple of hundred pilots at the ninth annual Sporty’s Fly-In, Wolf revealed that Boyle’s order number had been randomly drawn from among all of the orders placed in the past year. The Klamath Falls sectional that Boyle ordered last August was shipped to his home in Arcata in northern California. With a little Internet sleuthing, Wolf was able to determine that the winner worked as a maintenance manager for a nonprofit organization.

Wolf clued Boyle’s supervisor in on the deal, causing the supervisor to call Boyle into work on a Saturday so that he would be sure to answer his phone. With that assurance, Wolf called Boyle’s number just after noon Eastern Daylight Savings Time Saturday as the anxious fly-in crowd listened in.

A veteran of many such surprise calls over the years, Wolf expertly strung Boyle, 53, along for several minutes, learning that the winner is an artist who serves as the volunteer facilities manager for the temporary airport established for one week a year for the eclectic Burning Man Festival in Nevada. Boyle told Wolf that he occasionally flies a Cessna Skylane and a glider. With that, Wolf suggested that perhaps he could use his own airplane and revealed that he had won the Sporty’s Pilot Shop Sweepstakes—a specially equipped Legend Cub. “Hard to believe,” said Boyle, who then requested hundred dollar hamburgers for everyone at the fly-in.

The Legend Cub Light Sport Aircraft is powered by a 100-horsepower Continental O-200 engine and comes with a Garmin panel and pair of Bose headsets. The Sporty’s team will arrange for Boyle to come to their Batavia, Ohio, headquarters at Clermont County Airport to pick up the Cub—and will assign someone to fly back to California with him if desired.

Sporty’s Founder Hal Shevers said the company’s sweepstakes was conceived 25 years ago to put some fun back into aviation. The company, which includes Sporty’s Pilot Shop, a flight school, avionics shop, and numerous other aviation enterprises, gives pilots a place to fly every Saturday when it offers free hot dogs at the airport. Shevers said that on a typical Saturday, they give out some 200 hot dogs, but at last week’s annual fly-in he expected the number would be closer to 1,500.

Several hundred pilots drove and flew into the event, which included numerous seminars, a collection of airplanes from light sport to business jets to warbirds, and a large tent hosting a group of exhibitors showing off the latest avionics and products for general aviation.

The 2014 Sporty’s Sweepstakes is already under way, with the grand prize of a new Van’s RV-12 LSA. The Sporty’s RV-12 is one of the first 12 being built and is part of the Signature Series, which includes a signature by Van’s founder Richard VanGrunsven and a host of aircraft upgrades.