What do you get when you put a turbine engine on one of the most versatile of all bush planes? A pretty epic race-winning STOL aircraft, and this year’s winner of the 2018 High Sierra STOL Drag competition. Brainchild of self-taught engineer and successful entrepreneur Mike Patey, Draco is the ultimate backcountry airplane. With its bright red skin, tall legs and heavy cloud of dust around it, Draco commands attention everywhere it lands. If you don’t happen to see it, you hear it; it’s one of the few bush planes with a turbine engine and reverse thrust, and the whine of the turboprop comes unexpectedly to unsuspecting observers.
Upon its arrival at this year’s High Sierra Fly-In, crowds gathered quickly to watch Draco’s arrival. The bright red airplane against the white desert landscape made for a stunning panorama. As crowds gathered to watch the famous STOL Drag race, the high point of the High Sierra Fly-In each year, Draco did not disappoint. In fact, this year Mike Patey and Draco stole the trophy from Mike’s own twin brother, Mark, who in 2017 won the STOL drag contest in his Carbon Cub EX.