EAA Airventure Oshkosh 2015 is less than a month away. If the massive fly-in’s 63rd iteration is anything like previous years, it will feature more exciting aviation events than one person could possibly see. We are counting down the days to Oshkosh by drawing attention to a few highlights you definitely won’t want to miss. Today, it is the return to Oshkosh of aircraft from the world famous Valdez STOL competition.
STOL (Short Takeoff and Landing) aircraft are some of the most exciting planes in the world. Their ability get in and out of remote airstrips have made them icons of adventurous aviation. Competition among the world’s greatest STOL pilots is friendly but fierce. Every year, skilled aviators looking to prove themselves arrive in Valdez, AK for a prestigious contest among the hills and mountains of The Last Frontier.
This video from the 2014 Valdez May Day Fly-in features the debut of Hartzell’s Trailblazer prop, which was designed specifically to meet the needs of STOL pilots and backcountry flying.
The pilot, Dave, doesn’t consider himself to be a “hard core” STOL flyer, but he still managed to put up two of the day’s best takeoff distances in the light touring class. The video makes it more clear than words ever could: watching these aircraft takeoff is mindblowing. They leave the ground so quickly it seems impossible – even as you watch it happen. This year’s Oshkosh attendees will get to experience the surreal power of Valdez’s STOL aircraft for themselves as the planes and pilots return to Oshkosh for competitions during the air shows on July 20th, 21st and 22nd.
If you are interested in learning what it is like to fly one of these incredible machines, check out this recent feature from Leading Edge magazine.