“Well, I think it’s still a little bit unbelievable,” Shealy said. “It’s a beautiful aircraft and I never dreamed that I’d win anything but a toy aircraft. I can’t thank AOPA enough for having this program.”
To assist in pulling off the surprise announcement, AOPA enlisted Shealy’s flight instructor, Cecil Tune, a former U.S. Navy pilot and pastor, and Brett Zukowski, co-owner of USAeroFlight Flight School at South Carolina’s Greenville Downtown Airport. Baker hid just outside a hangar with the Super Cub, waiting to surprise Shealy with his new mode of transportation. Shealy was lured to the airport by an AOPA editor who told the 81-year-old pilot that he was writing a story about older student pilots and their flight instructors.
Shealy started flight training when he was younger, but as with many pilots, life got in the way. He started flight training again in his 70s and now has about 120 to 140 hours total time.
“As AOPA president, presenting our sweepstakes airplane is one of my favorite tasks,” said Baker. “Surprising a lucky pilot with a completely refurbished airplane, equipped with everything a pilot could dream of is really a rewarding experience.”
Every AOPA sweepstakes airplane is one of a kind by the time it’s finished, but it couldn’t be truer for this Super Cub. The 1954 airplane sat for nearly 20 years before AOPA and Baker Air Service started the restoration project in 2017.
The airplane comes with three sets of landing gear—Wipaire’s Wipline 2100 amphibious floats, AirGlide hydraulic skis, and Airframes Alaska’s 27-inch Alaskan Bushwheel tundra tires. Whether the aircraft is on floats or wheels, it performs great thanks to the 160-horsepower Lycoming O-320 B2B engine with Electroair’s electronic ignition system.
Baker took the winner for a familiarization flight. Shealy sat in the front seat of the Super Cub as Baker coached him on start-up and taxi procedures. Shealy said he thought the aircraft was a bit challenging at first, but he began to get more familiar with the nuances before touching down on Runway 1.
“It was my first encounter with Mark Baker, but he can fly with me anytime—in my aircraft,” Shealy said.
Email [email protected]