STOL Racing in Reno
This years National Championship Air Races introduced an exciting new kind of aviation demonstration to its audience. The STOL Drag Races. So what is STOL Racing in Reno?
In my experiences. Whenever people talk about air racing. Usually, the first thing that pops into mind is the heart-stopping action of the mighty Unlimiteds, sleek Jets, or the flashy Sport racing classes. I mean, seriously, the unofficial motto of the races is “fly low, fly fast, and turn left”.
Even the infamous aviator, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, had it right when he said “I feel the need… The need for speed”!
But seriously though. Isn’t speed by definition, what every person who has ever flown an air racer, throughout history, has strived to achieve. Until now that is.
What is STOL
So before getting too far ahead of ourselves. Let us answer that big question your dying to ask. What the heck is STOL anyway? Well, officially it’s an acronym for Short Takeoff and Landing. Both, civilian and military pilots have been trying for decades to either land on shorter runways or locations with no runway at all.
Now believe it or not. There are people who enjoy living in areas of the world that are very remote. Like, no Walmart remote. For example, chilly places like Alaska, and the northwestern areas of Canada. Or in contrast, the blazingly hot Outback of Australia. Just to name a few. Many times, the only way to transport people and supplies are via skilled aviators known as Bush Pilots. Therefore, these pilots use an assortment of STOL capable aircraft to access these remote sites in some very harsh conditions.
Back to STOL Racing in Reno
STOL Drag Racing was started by an easy going pilot by the name of Kevin Quinn. He is the person who is responsible for creating the High Sierra Fly-in which is where the STOL Drags actually began. His vision to create a “celebration of aviation.” has evolved into a legitimate competition.
In 2018, representatives of the Reno Air Races made the trip out to Dead Cow Playa which is the home of the High Sierra Fly-in. They observed the races and were impressed by what they saw. That very next year. Kevin and his crew brought the drag races out to the 2019 National Championship Air Races as a demo event.
As it turns out. The demo was a huge success. The pilots, and the type of flying that they do, had won over the audience. By the end of that year’s Reno Air Races. The STOL demo had become an official racing class.