The weather was better than any other year in recent memory. “It’s just been great,” said founder Kevin Quinn. Cool mornings and highs in the upper 70s kept the lakebed, known for its occasional extremes, temperate.
On Friday evening, a fifth-wheel style travel trailer pulling a hot air balloon caught fire. The blaze resulted in a series of boiling liquid expanding vapor explosions, dramatic fireballs usually seen in Hollywood action scenes. The volunteers of Dead Cow Crash Fire Rescue raced to the scene and addressed the situation. No one was hurt, but the rig was a total loss.
A pilot flying a Cub encountered wake turbulence from a larger airplane during the mass approach to get everyone landed. The airplane stalled and began to enter a spin, according to witnesses. “We had a hard impact with an airplane that was on the very far south end of the lakebed,” said Quinn. “He stall-spun the aircraft with some wake turbulence and he was able to recover the aircraft, barely. With his skillset he was able to save the lives of both of them,” Quinn said. The airframe was destroyed, and there were injuries to the passenger onboard. None were life-threatening. The rest of the event went off without a hitch. STOL Drag rounds were held on Saturday. In the Bronze Class, a famous newcomer made a splash. Aerobatic superstar Michael Goulian flew a Whelen Aerospace Technologies-sponsored CubCrafters Carbon Cub in the competition. His efforts netted a second-place finish in his class. “It is a discipline I didn’t have until this week, but I came out early, practiced with Kevin Quinn out in the desert,” said Goulian.
Steve Henry took the top spot in the Gold Class. He was many seconds faster than any of the other top competitors, but he is still not satisfied. He’s chasing a 50-second time. Henry suggests that any pilot could become proficient enough to compete in STOL Drag. “You’ve got to really know your airplane and have fun with it. Take Kevin’s course; practice the right things,” he said.
The dust-loving backcountry crowd will once again gather at Dead Cow from October 12 through 15, 2023.