Short Take Off and Landing Competition flies into Jennings

The National Short Take Off and Landing (STOL) season kicks off this weekend with the 4th annual Swamp STOL Competition and Fly-in at the Jennings Airport.

“We lead off the season,” Swamp STOL founder Matthew Peterson said. “We have been working on our planes during the off season and we are ready to premiere them at Swamp STOL which has become one of the most popular events in the STOL competition series.”

Peterson, who has hosted the event for the past three years, is pasting the torch to the new local event host Adam Gordon of Oakdale.

Gordon competed with the National STOL for the first time last year and will be competing at Swamp STOL in the Adventure Class in his CubCrafters Carbon Cub EX-2.

“This is a chance for us to raise awareness of general aviation, backcountry flying and what we use these airplanes for, as well as safety,” Gordon said. “It also gives us, as pilots, a chance to demonstrate our own aircraft and show off our skills.”

“Many of us are still perfecting our skills to be able to take off short and land in places that are hard to access,” Gordon said, noting that the STOL aircraft are unique because they can take off and land in remote backcountry areas.

The competition pits pilot skills against others in an effort to score the shortest take off and landing score. Each competition has three takeoffs and three landings on a grassy runaway to score the lowest combined scores in various classes.

Announcers will be on the ground to explain to spectators what is going on, as well as provide background on the pilots and their airplanes.

Pilots do not need much runway to take off or land and the grass field at the Jennings Airport is perfect, Gordon said. It is also a perfect location because pilots can park their plans in the grass field and walk to nearby restaurants and hotels, he said.

More than 40 aircraft including light and heavy touring, experimental, bush, taildraggers and other airplanes are expected to attend this year’s event with pilots from Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Florida, the west and east coast and all over the country including a pilot from Canada.

The Adventure Class is poised to be one of the most exciting classes this year, with a face-off between some of the highest performing and most competitive pilots, according to organizers. Among those scheduled to appear are Collin Caneva in the Legend MOAC “Beast Mode,” Keith Lange in NITRO, a 1956 Piper Super Cub and Jared Garetson flying a Badlands Traveler.

Other pilots scheduled to appear include Brandon Corn, 2023 Touring Class Champion, in his Cessna C205; Justin Meaders, who is poised to compete in the Unlimited Class for the first time in his Just Aircraft Super STOL; Nick Ardillo flying a Cub Crafters Carbon Cub SS; Kelly Qualls in a CubCrafters Super Cub CC11-100 and Brent Womack Jr., competing in a Rans S-20 Raven.

Newer faces to the National STOL circuit, who will be appearing at Swamp STOL, include John Caldwell, competing in the Rookie Class; Corey Slone, competing in the Backcountry Class and Eric Bentley, competing in the Rookie Class.

Others confirmed to appear include Joel Milloway in the Tiger Stripe Rans S7; Sheldon Heatherington flying the Zenith 750 STO Redbird; Patrick McInteer competing in a Rans S& and Tony Sanches in the Just Aircraft SuperSTOL; Dan Reynolds, competing in the Chinook Valdez Special; David Kerley, in a Just Aircraft Highlander and John McCardle, competing in a Maule M5 and Matt Peterson, competing in his stock Cessna 172.

Brad Crawford and John Lewton will be competing in the Backcountry Class with their Aviat Husky planes. Jay Holt will make his first appearance in the Rookie Class in his Maule M5 235 C.

Friday’s practice is open free to the public from 12:30-4:30 p.m.

Gates open at 9 a.m. Saturday with competitions beginning at 10 a.m. The competition is expected to finish between 3-4 p.m.

Tickets for Saturday’s competition are $20 at the gate. Children 12 and under are free.

Besides watching the planes, spectators will also enjoy seeing the planes up close and visiting with the pilots. Food trucks and vendors will also be set up.

Spectators are invited to bring their lawn and camping chairs to spend the day. Free parking will be available on Airport Road, just west of La. 26/Elton Road.

For more information, visit nationalstol.com/swamp

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