For all of the pilots who enjoy the challenge of landing short enough to take the first turnoff from the runway, CubCrafters has raised the bar.
The aircraft maker collaborated with Red Bull and the extreme sports promoter XDubai to stage the landing of a Carbon Cub on the helipad atop the 56-story Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai, UAE. Luke Czepiela, a Red Bull Air Race pilot and Carbon Cub owner, flew a modified version of the aircraft onto the pad, which is about 90 feet wide and 695 feet above sea level.
“All big moments start with little ideas powered by imagination and the desire to create something special,” stated Patrick Horgan, CubCrafters’ president and CEO. “Red Bull has done many projects over the years that have inspired aviators worldwide, so we were honored to join them on this project to demonstrate the incredible capabilities of the kinds of aircraft our company designs and manufactures.”
“To ensure success, we wanted the airplane best suited to the challenge, and CubCrafters was the obvious choice,” said Michał Graczyk, the event’s aviation project manager. Brad Damm, CubCrafters’ vice president, noted that two years of planning went into the project, and that successfully landing on the helipad “really pushes the limits of what a best-of-class STOL aircraft, and an extremely capable and dedicated pilot, can achieve.”
Mike Patey—a bush pilot, aviation engineer, and YouTube personality who also owns a Carbon Cub—joined the technical crew in making modifications. “It was a pretty simple formula,” he said. “We cut weight, changed the CG to increase the effectiveness of the brakes, and added extra horsepower.”
Ever since the hotel’s completion in 1999, its helipad has been a setting for promotional events. In 2004, Tiger Woods hit golf balls from the pad before the Dubai Desert Classic tournament. The following year, Roger Federer and Andre Agassi played a tennis match there. In 2013, the helipad seemed especially small as Formula 1 driver David Coulthard performed donuts in his Red Bull racing car before the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.