Reno’s STOL Drag class offers a great sense of community
With great weather but poor air quality and visibility due to a nearby California wildfire – typical for this time of year – the STOL National Championship Drag at the Stihl National Championship Air Races in Reno drew competitors from across the United States last week. The STOL Drag competition was once again a welcome addition to the Reno Air Racing Association sponsored racing class schedule, as its versatility allowed it to step into the forefront of the show at all times to entertain the crowd when visibility was poor. scaled down. below the permitted travel limits for pylon races. STOL Drag visibility requirements have also been reduced by RVR (Runway Visual Range) from 3 miles to 1 mile, which is well within the safe parameters for STOL Drag, allowing pilots to take the field in front of the grandstands and do what they do best: captivate the crowd.
I took the mic – a break from my duties as team leader for Steve Henry – with Juan Browne (from the @blancolirio channel on YouTube). Grandstand fans and live broadcasters received game-by-game as the Straight and Level Television documentary film crew followed to help tell the story of the fastest growing general aviation segment fast.
The runners take your marks
Drivers lined up on the newly leveled dirt track one-on-one on the 2,000-foot course after the famous “3-2-1, See ya!” signal given by STOL Drag organizer Kevin Quinn to launch their plane towards the turn around point. Several pilots quickly learned that at Reno’s altitude of 5,050 feet msl their planes were not performing as well as they would have liked and that – coupled with a density altitude) of 6,500 feet – meant that much more ground distance was used before they generally lifted their wheels off the ground.
In some cases, the taxiway that crossed the track had to be used for a launch pad to enter ground effect, as the heavier Cessna 182s and less powerful light aircraft consumed much more land than they needed. were used to it. Many pilots were making adjustments to their aircraft to try to compensate.
2021 defending champion Toby Ashley has not shown this year, depriving Steve Henry (his toughest rival last year) of the chance to demonstrate his improvements against sarge.
Tim Schelhorn debuted his new #73 aircraft Psycho Billy– a CubCrafters Carbon Cub that has been meticulously built for this style of racing – in the gold stand. However, being so new, bugs have appeared preventing it from performing to its full potential. He still performed well enough to secure the No. 2 spot in the gold bracket against No. 48 Eddie Sanches in devil girl– who fought his way through the entire field to secure the No. 3 spot in the gold group.
Psycho Billy will definitely be a plane to watch at the upcoming STOL Drag World Championships at the High Sierra Fly-in at Dead Cow Dry Lake in October.
Another new aircraft on the scene was No. 85 Luna C-Where Moon in short, another custom CubCrafters Carbon Cub built and raced by Cathy Page. She was still learning her intimate flight characteristics, which are very different from the Piper Clipper she flew last year.
A spectator favorite in Section 3 was No. 66 Big Tuna, the Zenith 701 STOL flown by Jon Hakala in Reno, for various reasons. Brian Steck’s No. 221, a beautifully painted and meticulously polished Legend Cub, got a taste of the desert when a fist-sized boulder was thrown from his tires and sent through his stab horizontal, which was quickly (although temporarily) repaired.
All had a great time as the STOL Drag racers were the first class to qualify and race in the mornings throughout the week. This was fantastic, allowing the tailwheel aircraft to not have to fly with a two-way tailwind for their races. However, the morning sun shone directly into the eyes of the drivers on the first half of the race, making it difficult to judge the line they needed to cross, causing more scratches than in any previous event. But it’s racing!
In the end, Steve Henry’s turbocharged Yamaha engine on the Wild West/Just Aircraft Highlander—#44, Yee Haw– was the plane to beat, with its 10,000+ rpm howls echoing from the bleachers and hangars at the end of the field. The noise attracted people to look at this most unusual sounding aircraft.
The slogan “less than a minute to win” proved true, since 59 seconds was the time to beat at this altitude. Steve beat the minute by solidifying him as the 2022 National STOL Drag Gold Champion in Reno. Congratulations to all.
1. Steve Henry #44, mountaineer
2. Tim Schelhorn #73, Carbon Cub
3. Eddie Sanches #48, mountaineer
4. Bo Ellis #80, Custom Legend Cub
5. Harry Beaupre #27, Kitfox
6. Hal Stockman #3, Rans
7. Ty Ferkin #22, Kitfox
8. Brian Steck #221, Cub Legend
9. Kevin Palmer #21, Kitfox
10. Cathy Page #85, Carbon Cub
11. Collin Caneva #43, Carbon Cub
12. Jon Hakala, Zenith
13. Brent Womack, Rans
14. Dave Kerley, Mountaineer
15. Tony Sanches, Superstol
16. Joe Dory, Custom Pacer