Even with a knife, a gun fight can be fun. This weekend was the first of 4 STOL competitions planned by Mark Kenneston, the northeast representative for CubCrafters. CubCrafters makes some of the lightest and highest performing Cub style aircraft available.
We joined up with our neighbor in his Cessna L-19 “Bird Dog” for the flight to Harris Airport in Fort Ann, NY. Emilie was at the controls of our Bearhawk. Isaac took the “Can I fly now?” seat. I “flew” from the back. Headwinds dashed hopes of steady air for the competition. With airplanes that were a good deal heavier than the Cubs, our little group was headed to join the fun and camaraderie rather than really compete. We were also carrying a lot more weight in fuel than those who showed up expecting to win.
Mark has hosted this event for a few years to promote grassroots aviation. This is the first year with a series and also the first time with a decent number of non-aviation spectators.
As we arrived we heard a number of planes in the pattern trying to get themselves turned around as a call was made to change landing direction due to the shifty winds. When it came time to start the competition, the wind had shifted again, but not enough to call for another change of landing direction. I found myself in the first group of 3 planes, along with last year’s champion flying one of CubCrafters Carbon Cubs. Heavy plane, tailwind, and flying against last year’s champion. I wasn’t going to look good; or was I? My first landing was long due to wind sheer and tailwinds. …but the Cub was longer. He was so long that he didn’t bother making a full stop for a scored landing. My second landing was better at about 360 ft, but still longer than the 220-230 ft I typically have done under better conditions. The Cub also did better on the 2nd attempt, but I was told not as well as I did. Score one for flying well when the chips are down.
During the morning discussions and during sign-up for the event, Emilie decided that she wasn’t going to sit this one out. Esp. after our trip to UT and ID last spring, she has been feeling much more capable in the Bearhawk. Her first landing was short of the line. Her second was about 330 ft, beating mine.
The later groups to fly enjoyed the benefit of subsiding winds for steadier flying without the tailwind. The top three placing aircraft all flew later in the afternoon. The winning landing was around 150 ft. We waited for results and then hustled home to watch the first SpaceX manned capsule launch.