Sebastien Heintz of Zenith Aircraft in Mexico, Missouri is one of the more vigorous promoters in light aviation. He and his 25-year-old company are all over social media and advertise in big magazines. This week his news came from about as far away as possible, from way down under in New Zealand.
“A Zenith STOL, expertly piloted by Deane Philip, was the winner of the New Zealand Bush Pilot Championships in Omaka, New Zealand, on Saturday, February 3, 2017,” reported Sebastien. Deane won with a take-off distance of just 12.6 meters (41.3 feet) and a landing roll of 14.7 meters (48.2 feet). See the video below.
By any measure, that is very, very short.
“Another Zenith STOL aircraft, piloted by Chris Anderson, took second place,” bragged Sebastien. In third place was a Rans S6 for third place in the Sport Pilot (under 1,325 pound) category.
This fifth annual STOL competition — officially called the “Healthy Bastards Bush Pilot Championships” — is a precision landing, STOL Takeoff and Landing competition held annually at Omaka Airfield, Blenheim, New Zealand.
Deane Philip (photo) hails from Christchurch, New Zealand. He has been flying for five years, logging 570 hours in his Zenith STOL over that time. How does he succeed?
“Every take off and landing is a focused precision attempt,” Deane related. “All of my flying is off-airport and the places we land and take-off from you need to be on point. Even when leaving and arriving at my home field I use the runway threshold line as a target point to continually hone my skills. An average outing will consist of 10 to 20 off field landings instead of just flying from A to B. This is the type of flying where the Zenith STOL truly excels.” That training is how to win STOL competitions. Well done, Deane!
Very Light to Very Heavy
Talk about your short takeoff… I just witnessed the successful launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch, a test flight aiming to transport a Tesla Roadster to Mars. Because I live near Daytona Beach, Florida, I often get to observe rocket launches live.
Sheesh! These two accomplishments could hardly be further apart and I don’t mean geographically. The space geek in me is always drawn outside to my back yard to get a wonderful view of a launch. I’ve been privileged to see many, including all the final Space Shuttle launches.
With my neighbors who live on the 12th fairway of the golf course at Spruce Creek Fly In, we stood on a pleasantly warm day to see this ground-breaking launch. While we could not see the return of all three rockets, they landed successfully, two on terra firma and one on SpaceX’s barge at sea.
Because we are about 50 miles away, the sound of these (count ’em) 27 rocket motors traveled to Daytona in about four minutes. The rumbling from those huge motors throbbed on and on, longer than any launch I can remember. The winds need to be rather calm for the sound to travel this far and today we got lucky.
Cool! Go private space companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin, and others. I’m a NASA fan, too, but I want to see these private enterprises take the baton and race outward to the planets …and it’s happening.
I just hope that Tesla can find a parking spot when it gets to Mars orbit.