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Two very lucky pilotsTwo very lucky pilots

Winners of the Hidden Gem contest to fly in IdahoWinners of the Hidden Gem contest to fly in Idaho

Two lucky pilots have won AOPA’s Hidden Gem contest, sponsored by Aviat Aircraft. The pair will get a chance to fly an Aviat Husky in the Idaho backcountry.

Jeff Auen owns an AirCam based in Maryland.
Zack Schmidt flies a Learjet for an air ambulance.

The contest ran on AOPA’s Facebook page and asked pilots to submit their favorite Hidden Gem airport, with a brief description of why they loved it, plus a few photos.

Jeff Auen owns an AirCam based in Maryland. He won for his portrayal of the Massey Aerodrome in Massey, Maryland. Auen said, “It’s a beautiful site that dramatically changes with the seasons.” Instead of a GPS identifier, Auen offered geographic directions that speak to the airport’s rural location. “When the river ends, head toward the smoke stack in the distance and Massey Aerodrome is three miles ahead,” he wrote. There’s a museum on the airport, and events are held throughout the year.

Zack Schmidt flies a Learjet 35 in Georgia for an air ambulance company, and has a tailwheel rating. Schmidt offered Basin Harbor, Vermont, as a Hidden Gem and Facebook voters agreed. He said the airport enables great short- and soft-field practice with its grass runway, and a nearby harbor offers seaplane rides, golf, and other types of relaxation.

Auen and Schmidt will travel to Afton, Wyoming, to visit the Aviat factory before embarking on two days of backcountry flying along Idaho’s famed Snake River. At night they’ll stay in private cabins and relax with Aviat’s best instructors.

AOPA Editor at Large Dave Hirschman is tagging along to document their experience, so stay tuned to read more about their backcountry adventure.
Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly is senior content producer for AOPA Media.
Topics: Pilots

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