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Young Eagle Sweeps Winner Claims His Prize

  • Ralph Widman with Sean D. Tucker
    Ralph Widman with Sean D. Tucker beside the Oracle Challenger III at Mesa Del Rey Airport, California.
  • Ralph Widman
    While not originally part of the plan, Widman flew what turned out to be his favorite: an SNJ-5.

May 28, 2015 - “Fabulous!” is the word Ralph Widman used to describe his aerobatic flight training, one of the top prizes in last year’s Sean D. Tucker’s EAA Young Eagles Pilot Appreciation Sweepstakes.  EAA pilot members who flew a Young Eagle during the contest period were automatically entered, and Widman, of Lynchburg, Ohio, redeemed his prize last month: aerobatic performance training from Tucker’s Tutima Academy of Aviation Safety at the Mesa Del Rey Airport (KIC), in King City, California.

The training took place April 13-17, as Widman, EAA 125685, received five hours of dual instruction with Ken Erickson in a Pitts S3C. He had additional dual in an Extra 300 and some unexpected bonus training in what turned out to be his favorite plane - an SNJ-5 World War II trainer, the U.S. Navy’s variant of the North American T-6 Texan.

“I was in the right place at the right time,” he said. “I did loops, four-point rolls, barrel rolls, and, my favorite, wing overs.” After flying the SNJ, Widman says he called home and told his wife that he’d decided to sell their home and put a down payment on one.

“The phone grew quiet, then she said, ‘That’s okay Widman, but you better find a bed that fits a dog house, because you are going to need one!”

At age 68, “Wid” says he approached each training day with a bit of apprehension – and did confess to an upset stomach near the end of each flight. “They kept the ‘worst’ maneuvers for last, in case I got motion sickness,” he said. “Great plan!”

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