Plane & Pilot
Monday, July 1, 2013

Badlands Buster

Pictures from an exhibition of LSA STOL like you’ve never seen before

Woodland cobs the throttle, we jump forward, and then things happen in a real hurry: The tail pops up and he pulls back on the stick and kabonk! Out comes the left leading edge slat and kabonk! Out comes the right leading edge slat, and we're climbing out. Yep. Just like that, and quicker than it took you to read that sentence.

"Well, that didn't suck," I say. Woodland grins and says simply, "Yeah."

Later, I check his two-person demo takeoffs with a stopwatch from the sidelines: three to four seconds typically, in perhaps 75 to 100 feet of ground roll. Not bad. No, not bad a'tall.

There's no VSI on board—the minimal panel sports a Garmin Aera 500, GRT EIS engine information readout, altimeter and airspeed steam gauges, and that's about it—but I'd guess our climb is in 900 fpm range.

Empty weight is 780 pounds (up to 835 depending on equipment), so with 27 gallons fuel, you get 378 pounds useful load at best. Build it as an Experimental Amateur Built certified version (same airframe but rated to 1,500 pounds MTOW), and you're up to 558 pounds useful. Either way, SuperStol isn't for loading up with baggage to fly long distances in, but a relatively slow-flying (90-100 knots), dust-whomping, bog-stompin' funship at heart.

Or as my host avers, "I'm not interested in flying fast. I'm interested in landing in places nobody else can land in."

And They Call It Airwork
Away from the air show grounds, we tool around over lush green fields. I've already settled in and am appreciating good visibility all around, including the big, cambered overhead skylight with enough headroom for pilots up to 6'7".

I like the vernier. It doesn't have the Cessna typical push button, but it's easy to over-power the adjustable friction lock. The trim lever is there on the floor where your right hand falls and is a treat to work: like so much of the SuperStol design—functional and effective.

"Well, the composite prop could be a little smoother," Woodland says after I comment on the smooth engine feel. "I haven't dynamic balanced it yet."

That's insight into his perfectionist nature. SuperStol is his tinker-work in progress, and he'll be making small refinements even as production steps up to accommodate the many orders already on the books.

I pull some turns. Nice! Handling is light and response surprisingly nimble, even with those ginormous balloon tires hanging down in the relative wind. There's minimal adverse yaw and no over banking or rollout tendency. Even at 20 degrees of bank, I can see into the arc of the turn through the skylight, always an enjoyable and welcome safety feature in a high-wing plane. The airplane talks to you in every position with its lively control feel. Sweet.

Labels: LSAs


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