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Skylane tops T-6 to become last Cessna left in 'Challenge'

Everyone who is voting in AOPA's Favorite Aircraft Challenge has a stake in the outcome, with each click of the mouse helping to push someone's favorite aircraft further toward the finals set for April 1 and 2. From each group of enthusiasts, voters are rallying together to help give a boost to their chosen make/model.

One particularly large group that have been making themselves known in the Challenge voting are fans, owners, and pilots of Cessna airplanes. But as each round of voting concluded, most of the well-proven line of ships has been eliminated. Except one. Earlier this week, the F4U Corsair sent the Cessna 172 Skyhawk back to Wichita in a third-round upset. Now let's see how another notable Cessna product fared:

West and Southwest regions Round Three results: The big matchup between the Cessna 182 Skylane and the T-6 Texan in the West was greatly anticipated. With a reputation as a “great all-around personal airplane considering cost of ownership, operating cost, payload, range, and comfort,” it's no wonder the Skylane mustered the votes to eliminate the popular Texan and advance. In the other West contest, the Piper PA-18 Super Cub could not match the rugged full-court game of the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver, which racked up enough points by halftime to leave the arena and deliver a group of salmon slayers to a fishing lodge in Unalakleet, Alaska.

In the Southwest Region, the Beechcraft Bonanza—called the “gold standard of all high performance singles” by one voter, used speed and its power-V offense to claim victory by bringing too much game for the Cessna 208 Caravan to handle. Another strong Cessna entry, the capable 210, played like it was chained to the ramp in its battle against the mighty Douglas DC-3, which used the Centurion for traction in its romp to the finals.

West and Southwest Round Four predictions: It's been said about the Cessna 182 Skylane that “if you can get it into the plane and close the door, the plane will carry it.” But in its round of eight battle with the de Havilland Beaver, the 182 will need to fill every inch of the cabin with votes to stay alive. One voter said this about the Beaver: “Anything put up against the Beaver will lose. It's like the Canadian National Hockey team playing a team from Senegal.” Which is why the Beaver is just too tough here and claims the win.

In the Southwest Region's Round Four voting later this week, it's going to be a bad day for Bonanza owners when their beloved airplane has to battle the unstoppable DC-3. “The Gooney is such an important part of this nation's aviation history,” said one voter, “it is the plane that launched the airlines and helped save the free world!” With the bright yellow “Smile in the Sky” leading a formation of gorgeous DC-3s and C-47s that have been circling the arena since leaving the big Gooney reunion in Rock Falls, Ill., back in 2010, the Bonanza goes down hard to set the DC-3 up with what could be the mismatch of the challenge against the cute little Piper J-3 Cub, should it get past the Staggerwing.

Dan Pimentel, an instrument-rated private pilot who has racked up more than 400 hours in 16 years of flying, is also an aviation author and writes the Airplanista Aviation Blog

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