January 28, 2021

Pilot wins AOPA RV-10 sweepstakes


Aaron Benedetti at Livermore Municipal Airport receives his new RV-10 from the AOPA sweepstakes program. (Photo: Chris Rose, AOPA)

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association on January 24 surprised pilot Aaron Benedetti as the winner of its Sweepstakes Van’s Aircraft RV-10 airplane. Benedetti is a 10-year AOPA member from Livermore, California. The 57-year-old is a Boeing 787 Dreamliner captain, primarily flying oceanic routes between San Francisco International Airport and destinations in Europe, Asia, and Australia.

AOPA explains its team surprised Benedetti in the afternoon as he was meeting a friend at California’s Livermore Municipal Airport. Benedetti was led out to the ramp where he was eventually presented the keys to the sweepstakes airplane by AOPA President Mark Baker.

“The look on a pilot’s face when they find out they’ve just won an airplane is disbelief,” said Baker. “It’s quickly followed by the realization that their life just changed for the better. With this RV–10, any pilot’s life gets way better.”

AOPA explains Benedetti learned to fly in the Bay Area before studying engineering at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He flew for a regional airline and then was hired by United Airlines in 1990. AOPA notes Benedetti is also an avid paraglider and a member of the club at Livermore, flying aerobatic and tailwheel airplanes.

AOPA oversaw restoration of the Van’s Aircraft RV–10 Sweepstakes airplane leveraging a range of master craftsmen over 18 months, including the following:

Rob Hickman of Advanced Flight Systems designed and installed a three-screen, digital IFR instrument panel with an Avidyne IFD550 nav/com at its heart; Geoff Combs of Aerosport Products provided a carbon fibre panel and cenrer console; South Florida Sport Aviation installed a leather interior and overhead ventilation system; Craig Barnett of Scheme Designers established the aircraft’s new look; and a team led by Kendall Horst of Lancaster Aero applied its paint.

Champion Aerospace provided new magnetos for the 260-horsepower engine, and Whelen installed exterior LEDs. Aerox gave the winner a portable oxygen system, SlideDown provided a new set of tiedowns, and Bruce’s Custom Covers provided a durable fuselage cover to protect the airplane from the elements. Tin Tail Numbers contributed an aluminum panel painted to match the Sweepstakes RV–10’s N-number.

Van’s Aircraft provided RV–10 transition flight training for the winner with Mike Seager, an Oregon instructor who has given thousands of hours of dual instruction in the RV series. Benedetti has the option of doing the training in his own airplane or in an RV–10 at Van’s Aircraft.