The AOPA Experience package in the AOPA Foundation’s 2014 auction promised a flight in the association’s Reimagined Cessna 152 during a visit to the association’s headquarters. But winning bidder Rick Schwartz got more horsepower than he bargained for when the pilot and AOPA President’s Council member got a ride in a North American T-6/SNJ during a visit May 27.
A longtime member and supporter of AOPA, Schwartz said he hadn’t been to the association’s headquarters since a brief tour in the 1980s and saw the auction item as an opportunity to catch up with staff and to hear more about AOPA Foundation initiatives. Proceeds of the auction benefit the foundation’s efforts to preserve the future of aviation, so Schwartz’s winning bid helped support GA while he toured headquarters and the National Aviation Community Center, met with AOPA staff, tried out a Redbird FMX full-motion simulator, and climbed into the tandem-seat aircraft with AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Dave Hirschman.
“That was really cool,” Schwartz said of the flight, in which he got to practice an overhead approach. He also enjoyed time in the simulator, flying the virtual airplane under the Golden Gate bridge among other scenarios.
During lunch with AOPA President Mark Baker, AOPA Editor in Chief Tom Haines, and other AOPA staff, Schwartz and friend and fellow pilot Dan Vossman heard updates on the association’s major efforts, from growing the pilot population to protecting airports and, of course, third class medical reform. Schwartz, a member since the early 1970s, also received his 40-year pin.
“The AOPA Foundation’s annual online auction is one of our most important fundraisers,” said Stephanie Kenyon, vice president of the AOPA Foundation. “We rely on the generosity of supporters like Rick to help us tackle the challenging issues facing general aviation today. Membership dues alone can’t fully support AOPA’s work, and so we are especially grateful for the AOPA members who go above and beyond by contributing to the AOPA Foundation.”
Schwartz said he got involved with AOPA in the 1970s when he was flying through an Air Force aero club and liked reading aviation articles. He likes supporting the aviation community, he said, and recommended the AOPA Experience to people considering bidding on an item in the AOPA Foundation’s 2015 auction, which will open just in time for the holiday season.
“It’s really worth it,” he said. “Bid—high and often.”