And so it went for the entire day. The surprising thing about those laying hands on the Six in '06 was the number of current Cherokee Six owners, or those who had owned one in the past. But those airplanes weren't like the one you might win.
Steve Lister, an AOPA member since 1969, came by and commented that he had "flown a Six a long time ago. I rented one, and it was a nice airplane. I used it to fly all over. I even flew up to Oshkosh in 1982 to go to the "Ultralight" Oshkosh event." Lister is from Springfield, Illinois. "It sure would be nice to own another Six - especially one like this - after all these years of AOPA membership," Lister said.
Frank Williamson, of Auburn, Alabama, said, "I fly a Piper Archer now, but I could sure use a nice Six like this one.... I'd use it to visit my grandchildren, whenever they come along. But it shouldn't be too long now. I have 24-year-old twin daughters!"
Family-oriented flying would also be a top priority if Terry Williams of Sugar Grove, Illinois, another Six in '06 visitor, becomes the lucky winner. " I've flown Sixes, and I love them. I like to fly my family between Chicago and Tulsa - two kids and a wife - and a Six would do that nicely."
Williams scrutinized the airplane's panel. "Is that for terrain avoidance?" he asked, pointing to the flat screen at the far right of the instrument panel. Sorry, Terry, but that's a DVD screen - for watching videos played through PS Engineering's PAV 80 entertainment unit. Just make sure you don't watch any videos while flying. (That's why the "Not For Pilot Viewing" placard is on the screen's lower bezel.)
Like virtually all visitors, Joe Dougherty of Wheaton, Illinois, wanted to know how fast the Sweepstakes Six would fly. When told that true airspeeds of 142 knots were easily achievable, he said, "Well, I just flew a 300-hp Cherokee Six to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for a family reunion, and it did only 135 knots. So this one would do just fine."
Ken Wilterdink, of Viroqua, Wisconsin, is also an avid Cherokee Six fan. He told of a 1968 model he bought new. "It came with special luggage that was designed to fit perfectly in the forward and aft baggage compartments. It was part of a promotion that Piper was doing back then." Among Wilterdink's most memorable Cherokee Six flights: a voyage from Boscobel, Wisconsin, to Portland, Oregon. "I had seven people and their bags in that airplane, and it was no trouble at all."
Such is the lure of the Cherokee Six. Add to its innate attributes the embellishments AOPA has made to this year's sweepstakes airplane, and you've got capability and safety features galore. We'll get other visitor comments in the days ahead, so stay tuned for more updates. - Thomas A. Horne