Few people understand what it’s like to be pleasantly blindsided with the news that you’ve just won AOPA’s sweepstakes airplane. But two of the small but growing group of AOPA sweepstakes airplane recipients met at AOPA Aviation Summit Sept. 23.
AOPA’s 2011 sweepstakes Cessna 182 winner, Eric Short, who had recently taken the stage during the keynote session for the official announcement, met 2008 Get Your Glass Piper Archer winner Karoline (Amodeo) Gorman outside the Connecticut Convention Center exhibit hall. Short said he and Amodeo have plenty in common other than the sweepstakes. Both spend their work days in the National Airspace System: He’s a professional pilot, and Gorman an air traffic controller. And both love general aviation.
“You don’t know what freedom is until you’ve flown general aviation,” he said.
He remembered the elaborate ruse that brought Gorman to the Women in Aviation International conference in early 2009 to volunteer and sent her home with an airplane—he said he had followed the sweepstakes every year.
“For 22 years, I’ve been watching and wishing I would win, and I didn’t,” he said. But this year, convinced he wouldn’t win, he didn’t follow the extensive refurbishment of the 1974 Cessna 182P.
“He’s the guy who always says, ‘I never win anything,’” Short’s wife, Pam, said. He can’t say that anymore.
The Cessna 182 is roomy enough for cruising with family, and Pam said she was happy that her husband won “a family type of plane”—particularly nice when there’s another pilot in the family. Their son Allen, a pilot in the Air Force, joined them at Summit; their other son couldn’t make it because he’s expecting a baby.