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Valdez STOL Aircraft Returning to AirVenture

  • Frank Knapp takes off in his Lil’ Cub
    Frank Knapp takes off in his Lil’ Cub during the Valdez STOL competition at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2014.

March 11, 2015 - The specially modified short takeoff/landing (STOL) aircraft that were a hit at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2014 will return to Wittman Regional Airport for the 63rd annual convention and fly-in. These aircraft compete at the annual Valdez, Alaska, fly-in and air show each May, and more than a dozen of them will demonstrate their unique capabilities at Oshkosh this year.

The STOL aircraft, including homebuilts and specially modified production airplanes, will participate. They’re based on aircraft that provide supplies to the rugged and far-flung outposts throughout Alaska whose demanding terrain requires takeoffs and landings on rough runways often less than 500 feet long.

The Valdez STOL activities will include flying during the afternoon air show and on selected evenings at EAA AirVenture’s grass airstrip for ultralights on the south end of the grounds. These flying activities are made possible with support from CubCrafters, one of the nation’s leading backcountry aircraft manufacturers.

“We knew that last year’s Valdez flying competitions and demonstrations would be popular, but we had little idea how much fun it would be for both participants and those who watched them,” said Rick Larsen, EAA’s vice president of communities and member programs. “The pilots drew cheers during the afternoon air show demonstrations and thousands of aviation enthusiasts crowded around the ultralight runway for the informal post-air show evening festivities with the airplanes. This is true grassroots flying, perfect for Oshkosh.”

While the airplanes and pilots involved are commonly from Alaska, aviators and aircraft from throughout North America are expected to participate once again this year. Last year, it was common to see these aircraft take off and land in less than 50 feet. There will be flight competitions during the afternoon air shows on July 20-21, competition finals on July 23, and fun flying at the ultralight airstrip on July 22 (11 a.m.-noon) and July 24 (6:30-8 p.m.).