|Troy Woodland of Just Aircraft arrives at the Ultralights runway in the SuperSTOL. (photo by Randy Dufault)
By Randy Dufault
July 30, 2013 - When Troy Woodland found himself overtaking an ultralight trike in the pattern here at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2013 he simply slowed his airplane down to keep a safe distance. That is no mean feat considering he is flying a light-sport aircraft that, in most cases, would require airspeeds well beyond the maximum speed of a trike just to stay in the air.
Low speed is not an issue for the Just Aircraft SuperSTOL. In fact, with flaps fully extended, and the automatic leading edge slats out, ground speeds below 20 miles per hour are easily attained. Add in a bit of a headwind and zero ground speed becomes a real possibility.
Woodland and his partner Gary Schmitt already had plenty of success with their Escapade and Highlander kit plane designs, but a dream of flying slower, landing shorter, and increasing the overall utility of the airplane brought the two to design what has become a very popular kit airplane.
Woodland's flights of a factory demonstrator have become a popular attraction during fixed-wing flying sessions at the Ultralights runway. According to Schmitt, a conservative estimate of both takeoff and landing distances is less than 100 feet. And with an experienced pilot (like Woodland) aboard, dramatically less.
Considering both he and Woodland are nearing 1,000 hours of experience in the two factory demonstrators, it was interesting to hear Schmitt say, "We are still learning how to fly it. It's nothing like anything else you have ever flown."
SuperSTOL short takeoff technique involves adding power, quickly raising the tail, and immediately lowering the flaps. The airplane quickly transitions to a high angle of attack and departs the runway. It is not unusual for the shock-absorbing tail wheel to touch the ground during the maneuver.
Short landings also involve high angles of attack. The leading edge slats automatically deploy as the airplane slows - sometimes one before the other - and with the flaps down, the airspeed quickly falls to less than 40 mph. The addition of power slows the craft further and reduces the sink rate. The tail wheel often touches first and whatever sink rate remains is completely absorbed by the main gear's long-throw shock absorbers.
A quick tap of the brakes stops any remaining forward motion and the landing is complete.
Just has tested the landing gear design to 4g. According to Woodland, a landing made with a 900 fpm rate of descent results in only 2.5g. Such a landing would be unheard of in most airplanes, but the SuperSTOL design considers it normal.
The basic SuperSTOL kit is priced at $36,650 without large bush tires, instruments, engine, or paint. Typical power comes from a Rotax 912s or 914 with one current builder planning to install the 912is fuel injected version. A factory builder assistance program is available.
Inspiration for the high-lift wing came from a Helio Courier Schmitt once owned and includes a number of features not typically found in a light-sport kit wing. Builders can match the kit to their abilities with a choice of seven different levels of completion from the factory.
"The wing is pretty complicated," Schmitt said.
When asked if a factory-built S-LSA version would be available Schmitt answered, "We had planned to have that available early this year. But we have been overwhelmed and just have not had time to do it yet."
Woodland is flying the SuperSTOL regularly here at AirVenture from the Ultralights runway.
Just Aircraft has two booths, No. 654 in the North Aircraft Display Area, and No. 959 in the Ultralights area.