Copper State Inaugurates STOL Drag in Style

The event matched competitors in a new bracketing system designed to facilitate movement between the previous classes.

Steve Henry in #44 dominated the action at the inaugural Copper State STOL Drag competition. [Photo: Bryan Weathers]

The Inaugural Copper State STOL Drag competition took place earlier this month at the Copper State Fly-In, held in conjunction with the Buckeye Air Fair in Buckeye, Arizona (KBXK). Folks attending the event showed STOL Drag racers a warm welcome—even the mayor was present to greet pilots and patrons alike. 

Although not the first time the air fair has been held, it is the first time the ever-growing STOL Drag movement has been a part of it. Buckeye is the second-fastest growing city in the U.S. and it’s bringing general aviation right along with it, rolling out the red carpet to allow a STOL Drag course to be constructed at the airport the week preceding the event. 

Kyle Bushman and his crew moved and smoothed tons of dirt to create this 1,800 ft airstrip and pilots from all over the U.S. came to try their hand at it. Most notably, pilot Brent Womack took the Fastest Newcomer Award and earned $1,000 from CubCrafters for doing so.

Pilots worked together to come up with a new bracketing system that eliminates the possibility of “sandbagging,” by placing everyone according to their times alone without regard to the type of aircraft they are flying. 

The top 5 qualifiers and times are as follows:

1.#44Steve Henry50.75
2.#80Bo Ellis106.15
3.#62Austin Clemens104.09
4.#3Hal Stockman104.81
5.#00Jeff Pohl104.87

In the end, it boiled down to 18-year-old Austin Clemens with his Beta-prop-enabled Aviat Husky against the veteran Steve Henry in the fastest and most powerful airplane of the weekend, flying Yee-Haw 6, a Just Aircraft/Wild West Highlander. Clemens can hold his head very high making it to the finals with outstanding stick and rudder skills flying a heavier-class airplane and making it look easy.

Eighteen-year-old Austin Clemens walks away after a fantastic run making it all the way to the final. [Photo: Bryan Weathers]
Josh Richling is a crew chief in the National STOL Series. He covers STOL competitions for FLYING.

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