July 30, 2013
By Dave Hirschman
Just Aircraft Founder Gary Schmitt wasn’t sure anyone else would be interested in the no-compromises bush airplane that he wanted to own and fly.
But in the year since the South Carolina firm introduced its SuperStol, the company has shipped 38 kits, added staff, and is backlogged until April of next year.
“It turns out there are quite a few people who want to do the same kind of backcountry flying that I like to do,” Schmitt said. “It’s come as sort of a surprise to us.”
The two-seat SuperStol has leading-edge slats that deploy automatically at high angles of attack and enable the two-seat, side-by-side, tube-and-fabric aircraft to make extremely short takeoffs and landings. Shock absorbers on the main landing gear and tailwheel allow steep approaches with high descent rates and virtually no flare without damaging the aircraft. (See "Fly the new Just Aircraft SuperStol.")
“Your head doesn’t even bob,” he said. “Rough fields don’t seem rough at all.”
SuperStol kits sell for $36,650 excluding the Rotax engine, instruments, and paint. Three are currently flying, and Schmitt said a half-dozen more are nearing completion.
Schmitt said the company has a builder-assist program at the factory near Clemson University and had considered producing factory airplanes, but workers have been so overwhelmed making kits that Just Aircraft has set aside the idea of making complete airframes for now.
“We’d like to do an S-LSA in the future,” he said, “but right now we’re too busy.”
The SuperStol is designed to fly to and from unimproved areas, so airports are optional.
The SuperStol takes off and lands in “well under 100 feet,” Schmitt said, and special techniques allow far shorter landings. Cruise speed is about 100 mph.
Using high power and high angles of attack, the SuperStol can touch down at less than 20 mph and stop as short as 20 feet, he said.
“We’re still learning how to fly this airplane to get the maximum benefit out of its unique features,” he said. “You can fly it like any other tailwheel airplane—but it can do some things that no other airplane does.”
The SuperStol prototype has flown about 700 hours, and the company demonstrator flying daily at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., has logged more than 200 hours.
Takeoffs and Landings,
With a closing speed of about 900 knots, Air Force pilots on a training mission have seconds to aim and shoot heat-seeking and radar guided missiles at a drone target. Their success came from repeated rehearsals. But as author Larry Brown writes, “there is nothing like the real thing to gain experience.”
Red Bull Air Racing has returned for 2014, with Paul Bonhomme, twice a world champion of past years’ competitions, claiming a victory.
AOPA President Mark Baker flew four women and girls on two flights March 4 as part of Women of Aviation Worldwide Week activities designed to introduce more women and girls to aviation.
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.