The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) is doing something new this year as it upgrades one of the most familiar general aviation airplanes with an entirely modernized glass instrument panel. The 2008 Get Your Glass Sweepstakes airplane is a 1976 Piper Archer II, which will become fully upgraded throughout 2008 with a new glass panel, paint, and interior. One lucky pilot will win the Archer in early 2009.
“The Piper Archer is the perfect aircraft to use for a sweepstakes that features avionics,” said Ian J. Twombly, AOPA Pilot associate editor and sweepstakes project manager. “With its fixed gear, high useful load, and popularity as a training aircraft, the Archer is great for pilots of all experience levels to use as a platform for learning new avionics.”
The new interior, paint, and airframe work will all be done at Oxford Aviation in Oxford, Maine. Having so much of the work done in one place allows for a speedier refurbishment, simplicity of the overall project, and a beautiful, cohesive design.
AOPA has never before focused almost exclusively on how to upgrade a steam gauge panel with state-of-the-art retrofit glass for its annual sweepstakes airplane. The list of avionics, to be installed at Penn Avionics in West Chester, Penn., is extensive and includes: the EFD1000 primary flight display from Aspen Avionics, an Avidyne EX500 multifunction display, an S-Tec Fifty Five X autopilot, dual Garmin GPS units, a PS Engineering audio panel, and a Garmin transponder. The Archer will also have electronic charts, weather, traffic, and an entertainment system. Each contributor to the sweepstakes plane either donates or deeply discounts their products. Without them, the project would not be feasible.
Weekly updates on the restoration progress will be posted online at www.aopa.org/sweeps/ and monthly updates will be printed in AOPA Pilot magazine. Because of the extensive avionics work, the project provides an opportunity for Twombly to discuss training issues related to flying technologically advanced aircraft. He will also write about various retrofit options for aircraft owners interested in upgrading the panels of their own aircraft.
The sweepstakes Archer will be on display at airshows throughout the year. AOPA members can see “their” airplane up close at Sun ’n Fun, the AOPA Fly-In and Open House, EAA Airventure, and AOPA Expo.
The 414,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has represented the interests of general aviation pilots since 1939. General aviation includes all flying except the scheduled airlines and the military. Nearly two-thirds of all U.S. pilots, and three-quarters of the general aviation pilots, are AOPA members.
January 9, 2008