Only one lucky pilot will win the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association's (AOPA's) 2007 Catch-A-Cardinal Sweepstakes grand prize early next year. But any AOPA member can now fly the one-of-a-kind refurbished 1977 Cessna 177B Cardinal from the comfort of their home on a personal computer _ with a new add-on to Microsoft Flight Simulator X.
"Every AOPA member dreams of winning the sweepstakes airplane," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "The next best thing to owning it is flying it _ and now, thanks to our partnering with Flight1 Software, all of our members will have that opportunity."
Free to AOPA members, the virtual Cardinal includes nearly every detail of the sweepstakes airplane, including two Garmin GNS 430 navigators, a Honeywell Bendix/King 525 HSI, and the two-axis S-Tec System Fifty Five X autopilot. In addition, once AOPA's real sweepstakes Cardinal interior is complete, Flight1 will use photos of it to create the virtual cockpit, and it will be released in a subsequent version of the software.
The program, developed by Flight1 Software in conjunction with AOPA, requires a personal computer running Windows XP or Windows Vista and Microsoft Flight Simulator X. A control yoke or joystick also is needed, and a high-speed Internet connection is strongly recommended to download the program because of its size (approximately 46 MB). The Catch-A-Cardinal Sweepstakes software is not compatible with earlier versions of Microsoft Flight Simulator.
The 412,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has represented the interests of general aviation pilots since 1939. General aviation includes all flying except the scheduled airlines and the military. Nearly two-thirds of all U.S. pilots, and three-quarters of the GA pilots, are AOPA members.