This year the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) will give away one of the classiest aircraft ever to come out of Wichita - a 1977 Cessna Cardinal 177B. Throughout the year the sweepstakes plane will receive the kind of upgrades AOPA members have come to expect as it is refurbished to pristine condition. At the beginning of 2008, one lucky pilot will win the plane in AOPA's 2007 Catch-A-Cardinal Sweepstakes.
"We chose the Cardinal for the 2007 sweepstakes because it's affordable and dependable," said Julie Boatman, technical editor of AOPA Pilot and sweepstakes project manager. "It is also an excellent family aircraft, with a wide cabin, large doors, low entry points, a high wing so even children can see out of the back seat, and stable flying characteristics."
The fixed-gear, four-seat Cessna 177B, with a true airspeed of 124 knots, is simple enough to be flown by pilots of all experience levels without the need for much transition training. It is typical of what an AOPA member and general aviation pilot flies.
New this year, much of the restoration work on the sweepstakes airplane will be done at one airport - Griffin-Spaulding County Airport (6A2) in Griffin, Georgia, south of Atlanta - instead of several different airports across the country.
"In keeping with the 2007 sweepstakes theme of simplicity and functionality, we are having the engine overhaul, airframe work, and paint job all done at the Griffin-Spaulding Airport," said Boatman.
The Cardinal is currently at the airport being disassembled by a team of maintenance technicians from AirWrench, and led by independent mechanic Dan Rexroad, so the restoration work can begin.
"We're going to completely disassemble the Cardinal to illustrate how an aircraft owner might address concerns about a 30-year-old airframe through corrosion control and mitigation and inspection," said Boatman.
The Cessna 177 will first receive a factory overhauled Lycoming O-360-A1F6 engine with roller tappets installed by Don's Dream Machines, followed by a paint scheme designed by Scheme Designers and applied by Advanced Aircraft Refinishers.
Once avionics installation begins, the Cardinal will receive a new panel of easy-to-use, highly popular avionics, including dual Garmin 430 Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS)-capable Global Positioning Systems (GPS); Garmin GDL 90 datalink with automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) capability; L-3 Stormscope lightning detector; J.P. Instruments engine monitor; Bendix/King horizontal situation indicator (HSI); and S-TEC autopilot. Sarasota Avionics, of Sarasota, Florida, will lead the avionics installation, with Griffin-based Precision Avionics performing other aircraft electrical work.
Other restoration work scheduled for the Cardinal includes the addition of performance modifications, windshield/window replacement, and a new interior.
Throughout the year, the sweepstakes airplane will make appearances at airshows across the country, including Sun 'n Fun, AOPA Fly-In, EAA AirVenture, and AOPA Expo.
All pilots are encouraged to follow the Cardinal's progress by visiting the sweepstakes Web page ( www.aopa.org/sweeps/), which will be updated regularly. Monthly features will also appear in AOPA Pilot magazine throughout 2007.
The nearly 410,000-member AOPA has represented the interests of general aviation pilots since 1939. GA includes all flying except the scheduled airlines and the military. Nearly two-thirds of all U.S. pilots, and three-quarters of the GA pilots, are AOPA members.
January 3, 2007