A scientist from Los Alamos, New Mexico, has won the 2001 AOPA Membership Sweepstakes Beechcraft Bonanza. The sleek 1966 V35 model had been transformed over the past year into the highest-technology aircraft ever awarded by AOPA.
AOPA President Phil Boyer surprised 50-year-old Norman Elliott ( AOPA 796525) and his wife Joyce this afternoon with the news, delivered via a telephone call during what the Elliotts believed was the taping of a television interview on an aspect of his work at Los Alamos National Laboratories. The fake interview was set up with the help of LANL Broadcast Media Specialist John Bass ( AOPA 1072531).
Elliott and his wife, both LANL employees in the Polymers and Coatings Group of the Materials Science Technology Division, were caught on videotape whooping with joy and embracing as Boyer delivered the news. "Congratulations," said Boyer. "You are the winners of the 2001 AOPA Bonanza Sweepstakes." [Listen to audio of the telephone call: RealMedia file (2.3 Mb), MP3 file (8.9 Mb), or WAV file (12.3 Mb).]
Joyce Elliott, who told Boyer she flies "all the time" with the winner in their current aircraft, a Mooney 201, did a double-take when told of his award. "A Bonanza?" she asked. "An airplane Bonanza?"
Elliott, who holds commercial pilot and CFI certificates, is both instrument and multiengine rated, and has been a member of AOPA since 1982. He has about 1,500 hours.
The AOPA 2001 Membership Sweepstakes Bonanza is a 1966 V35 model, completely refurbished and upgraded with cutting-edge technology that includes a panel full of advanced avionics from Garmin and Meggitt, an S-Tec autopilot, a Superior Air Parts certified 300-horsepower IO-550 engine, a Tornado Alley Turbo turbonormalizer system, and a new McCauley three-blade propeller.
Other key components in the year-long upgrade process included a Mountain High Oxygen system, a TKS ice-protection system, an Avionics Innovations AM/FM/CD stereo player, a modern wet compass from SIRS Product Services, new pilot and co-pilot windows with frameless vents, a Speed Sloped windshield and side windows, and flap and aileron gap seals from Beryl D'Shannon. Murmer Aircraft Services applied a striking red and white paint scheme, dreamed up by AOPA staff with assistance from Craig Barnett at Scheme Designers.
For the 2002-2003 membership sweepstakes, a classic three-seater Waco UPF-7 biplane will be completely refurbished. It will be the grand prize in the first two-year AOPA membership sweepstakes. During the two-year contest period, one winner will be chosen each month to receive an all-expenses-paid trip for a ride in an already restored Waco biplane.
The completely refurbished Waco will be awarded after a year of celebrations and ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of powered flight in 2003.
AOPA members who join or renew their membership in the association are automatically entered in the membership sweepstakes.