Husky National STOL Series Kicks Off New Season in Lakeland

The Central Florida Classic featured notable additions, and absences.

Timmy Fonseca piloted the first Piper Comanche to compete in the National STOL Series. Courtesy: National STOL Series

The 2021-22 Husky National STOL Series began last weekend in Lakeland, Florida—home of the famous Sun n’ Fun event—with the Central Florida Classic.

The National STOL Series is the largest series for STOL in the U.S. The 2021-22 tour will feature five stops, with more in the works.

New Class Debuts

A welcome addition to the competition is the new Light Sport Class, which gives simple aircraft—such as Piper J-3 Cubs and Clippers, and Cessna 120s and the like—the chance to compete. It’s for aircraft with engines of 100 hp or less and without flaps. This class really places an emphasis on the pilot’s skills as these airplanes are disadvantaged on both takeoff and landing. 

The new class provided extra excitement, as it was won by Nick Poucher in the Patriot Recruit Cub that he and 30 of his fellow Lakeland Aero Club (LAC) members built. This club is a not-for-profit high school flying club that is turning out pilots and mechanics who build and maintain their own aircraft, while completing more than 12,500 hands-on shop hours before graduating. 

Nick—now 22 years old and chief of staff of the LAC—was able to win on his home turf right in front of his school and classmates. 

The club also served as the home base for the National STOL series this year, providing food and entertainment and allowing students and competitors to mingle and share ideas.

Taking the top spot in the new Light Sport Class in Lakeland was was 22-year-old Nick Poucher (left). Courtesy: National STOL Series

A Notable Absence

Apart from several new competitors this year, another difference was the absence of #44—Yee-Haw 6—flown by Steve Henry. Though Henry attended every event last season and went undefeated, on the day of the competition, he took possession of a new Just Aircraft Highlander kit, which will become Yee-Haw 8. 

Henry’s absence left the door open for Jon Humberd in his Zenith Super 701 to capture the win in the Light Experimental class, with a combined takeoff and landing distance of 159 feet. FLYING will profile Humberd in an upcoming story.

Heavy Touring Class

The Heavy Touring class brought the first Piper Comanche to a National STOL Series competition, but it was beat out by the famous polished 1955 Cessna 180 #46 flown by Warren Grobbelar, otherwise known as Warren G!

Bush Class

In the Bush class, it was none other than Austin Clemens taking the honors in an airplane new to him. Though this Aviat was not as familiar to him as his regular Husky, he was able to snatch a convincing win.

Otto Wins Most Consistent

Often a pilot is flying an aircraft that may not be the most capable of STOL mounts, but the pilot themselves may be very skilled—and this skill is recognized at the National STOL Series with the “Most Consistent” trophy. This time, the award went to Trevor Otto in the Light Touring class with takeoffs and landings within a few feet of each other in his 1975 Maule.

When the competition was over, the talk of the town were the trophies themselves. 

Anitra Goddard, the National STOL series’ Queen of Coordination,  along with MT Propellers created masterful trophies crafted from actual MT propellers. National STOL went above and beyond with this gesture, and it just shows the growth of this sport they have promoted and it is appreciated by all.

The trophies handed out at the Central Florida Classic were made from actual MT propellers. Courtesy: National STOL Series

How to Watch

If you missed the event and want to check it out, it you can catch it here:

And for future STOL events, dates and locations, click here.

Josh Richling is a crew chief in the National STOL Series. He covers STOL competitions for FLYING.

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