Video: AOPA Hands Over Sweepstakes Airplane in the Air

Minnesota man takes delivery of restored Debonair.

AOPA Debonair Giveaway

AOPA Debonair Giveaway

Steve Lagergren of Litchfield, Minnesota, got the surprise of his life this week. While flying his experimental Van's RV-7 he took delivery of a brand new airplane — a fully restored 1963 Beechcraft Debonair that was a gift from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. AOPA's president Mark Baker and AOPA Pilot editor at large Tom Horne snuck up on Lagergren, who was flying with fellow RV-7 builder Bob Collins. Collins had coordinated the plan with AOPA for weeks and the four pilots were communicating on a common frequency.

The Debonair was part of AOPA's annual sweepstakes in which the organization gives a restored airplane to a randomly selected member. The airplane has several speed mods, new 20-gallon wingtip fuel tanks and a brand new panel that features an Electronics International MVP-50P engine analyzer, Aspen Avionics' multifunction displays and Garmin's GTN 750/650 touchscreen GPS/nav/comms, ADS-B capable GDL 88 datalink transceiver and GDL 393D ADS-B-In receiver, which displays traffic on an iPad mini.

Lagergren will be traveling in style as the Debonair has received new paint and a new leather interior, which also features seatbelt airbags. He will also fly faster than the airplane could in its original state as the Continental IO-470-K engine has been overhauled and converted to an IO-470-N with 260 horsepower. The prop was also overhauled.

There is no doubt that Lagergren was surprised by the aerial announcement. "I love that airplane!" he said once he finally realized the Debonair was really his. "I've got to calm down a little bit before I land. Oh my gosh!"

Get a look at the happy winner and his family.

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