We have a winner!
Karoline Amodeo, a 25-year-old private pilot from Hopewell Junction, N.Y., got the surprise of her life Feb. 28 on stage in front of hundreds of pilots attending the Women in Aviation Conference in Atlanta.
Thinking she was attending the conference to work at AOPA’s exhibit booth, Amodeo was in “worker mode” when she stepped up on stage Saturday morning to hold a model of AOPA’s 2008 Get Your Glass Sweepstakes Piper Archer II while AOPA President Craig Fuller announced the winner.
“We thought Women in Aviation would be a wonderful opportunity to bring the name of the winner,” Fuller said as he pulled out an envelope containing Amodeo’s name. “When we announce the winner, we are going to take her to her hometown airport and show her the Piper Archer—her new airplane.”
Amodeo, who said she thought it would be cool if she could keep the model of the aircraft, saw her name on the envelope but quickly dismissed the idea that she had won. The audience, however, already had picked up on the fact that Amodeo was the winner. Many were saying, “Oh my gosh,” and some cried.
As a satellite television feed from Dutchess County Airport near Poughkeepsie, N.Y., came up on screen with a live shot of the Sweepstakes Archer, Fuller announced, “The winner is Karoline Amodeo!”
“Are you kidding me?” Amodeo finally exclaimed after a few speechless moments.
To confirm the deal, Amodeo’s parents walked in front of the Archer in Poughkeepsie to congratulate her.
The Get Your Glass Sweepstakes 1976 Piper Archer II (N208GG), a venerable, easy-to-fly, highly capable airplane, has been retrofitted with an Aspen Avionics EFD1000 primary flight display, an EX500 multifunction display from Avidyne, and additional avionics from Garmin, S-Tec, L-3 Communications Avionics Systems, J.P. Instruments, and PS Engineering, all redone by Penn Avionics in West Chester, Pa. Oxford Aviation worked its magic and completely rebuilt the interior and repainted the airplane, and Penn Yan Aero in Penn Yan, N.Y., overhauled the engine to like-new standards. It’s a technologically advanced aircraft and its new owner brings her youth and enthusiasm to general aviation, making this the perfect pairing of pilot and airplane.
Amodeo recently graduated from Daniel Webster College with a bachelor’s degree in air traffic and aviation management. She has had a private pilot certificate since 2002 and is currently working on her instrument rating. In January she accepted a position at the FAA’s New York Air Route Traffic Control Center as an air traffic controller and begins training for her new job in May.
It was one of the more elaborate ruses ever concocted by AOPA to give away its sweepstakes aircraft. Intrigued that the winner randomly chosen by a computer program at an outside accounting firm is female—only 6 percent of the total pilot population is female—AOPA sought to capitalize on this unusual circumstance. In the sweepstakes’ recent history, only one other woman has won.
Setting up the ruse, AOPA Executive Vice President of Communications Karen Gebhart called Amodeo to invite her to join AOPA staffers at the annual Women in Aviation International convention in February. Explaining that Amodeo’s name was chosen because of AOPA’s affiliation with Daniel Webster College and because Amodeo’s last name was at the top of an alphabetical list, Gebhart extended the invitation to the WAI convention. There, Amodeo assisted staffers at the AOPA booth, spoke of her passion for and her career plans in aviation, and acted as a mentor to the many young men and women attending the conference who desire careers in aviation. At no time during the three-day conference did Amodeo suspect that she was the winner.
Fuller was the concluding featured speaker at WAI’s final general session on Saturday morning. Fuller spoke of the growing role for women in aviation, especially as AOPA embarks on its campaign to increase the overall pilot population through its Let’s Go Flying initiative. He then introduced Amodeo as an example of a young woman making her dreams come true in aviation.
Talking with Fuller on stage before the announcement, Amodeo said, “The people I met here have been wonderful. It’s been an awesome experience. I’m going right downstairs to pay my dues to become a member of WAI.”
Off to New York
After speaking with members of the press and convention attendees, Amodeo was whisked off to Dekalb-Peachtree Airport where she boarded AOPA’s company aircraft, a Citation CJ3, for a flight to Poughkeepsie. A crowd of 40 friends, family members, and well wishers congratulated Amodeo after touchdown as she made her way to her new airplane sitting proudly outside Richmor Aviation, where she completed her flight instruction. AOPA presented Richmor Aviation with a plaque for its role in the surprise.
Amodeo immediately climbed into the Archer with sweepstakes project manager Ian Twombly, deputy editor of AOPA Flight Training, for a look at the leather interior and Aspen Avionics EFD1000 primary flight display. Later she shared the airplane with Fuller, who said Amodeo was a "wonderful winner." Although Amodeo was initially shocked with the news of her good fortune, in a short two hours she became quite comfortable referring to N208GG as "my airplane." She'll soon be testing the Archer's handling characteristics with Twombly in the air.
An extraordinary prize
So, you’re not the winner of the Piper Archer II? Hold on tight for AOPA’s 2009 Let’s Go Flying Sweepstakes featuring a nearly new Cirrus SR22. While there are no bad years to take part in AOPA’s annual sweepstakes, 2009 will be an especially good year because the prize is simply extraordinary. Unlike previous sweepstakes aircraft, the SR22 needs no refurbishment. It’s a pristine, 2005-model G-2 donated by philanthropist J. Lloyd Huck and features stunning performance, unprecedented safety, and a luxurious interior.
Remember if you join or renew your AOPA membership in 2009, you’ll automatically be entered in the 2009 Let’s Go Flying Cirrus SR22 Sweepstakes. You can earn two extra entries by signing up for AOPA’s Automatic Annual Renewal Program.
Look for the Let’s Go Flying Cirrus SR22 at a variety of high-profile events throughout the year including the Sun ’n Fun Fly-In in April in Lakeland, Fla.; EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis. in July; and the AOPA Aviation Summit in Tampa, Fla., in November. Enter now and next year at this time you may be as surprised as Amodeo.
February 28, 2009