Rob Melnick, You're The Winner!
It's no publisher's sweepstakes... but just try telling that to
AOPA member Rob Melnick of Denver, CO.
The 50-year old pilot and his 15-year old daughter, Alexandra,
THOUGHT they were going to Denver JetCenter over the weekend to
take part in an AOPA promotional video. Well, in a sense they
were... as AOPA President Phil Boyer met the two at the airport,
and presented Melnick with the keys to the 2005 AOPA sweepstakes
aircraft -- a completely refurbished 1974 Aero-Commander 112.
The ruse worked -- but it almost didn't, as a discussion titled
"Who won the Commander?" popped up Wednesday on one of AOPA's
online forums. Thus started the speculation... furthered
by one AOPA member in Virginia who used a flight tracking Web
site to follow the airplane's path to Denver.
The scheme worked, though, and a flabbergasted Melnick had no
idea what was waiting for him at Centennial Airport.
"Oh my God..." Melnick exclaimed when he realized what was going
on. "Oh my God!"
Melnick, a sales manager at a Denver-area Porsche/Audi auto
dealership, lost a leg due to bone cancer when he was a teenager --
but still went on to learn to fly. He has since chalked up nearly
350 hours of flight time, and he recently sold his interest in a
1977 Cessna T210.
For him, the Commander isn't just an airplane... it's a reason
to go flying again. To that end, the first thing he did was call
his former flight instructor, who was also his math teacher 30
"You're not going to believe this," Melnick told him. "The
airplane AOPA is giving away... the Commander... I just won it, so
we can go again!"
AOPA Pilot Associate Editor Steve Ells, who oversaw the
Commander project, then took Melnick and his daughter around the
pattern -- but because of Sunday's gusty conditions, Ells and
Melnick planned to fly again Monday morning.
Of course, Melnick's victory means AOPA's other approximately
406,000 members will have to be content with "flying" the Commander
virtually on Flight Simulator... that is, until AOPA awards its
next aircraft, a fully-restored 1967 Piper Cherokee
Six, next year.
Anyone who joins or renews membership in AOPA during 2006 is
automatically entered in the Win a Six in '06 Sweepstakes.