The 2023 season wrapped up in beautiful Sulphur Springs, TX, with the 8th and final event of the season last weekend. The National Championship, Lonestar STOL: Presented by American Legend Aircraft, lived up to the hype with perfect conditions, a stacked roster, unexpected upsets, and heartbreaking DQs.
Local hosts Darin and Randi Hart of American Legend Aircraft, along with Everett DeWolfe and Ben Scarborough of EAA Chapter 1246, Brian Steck, and the entire team at the Sulphur Springs Municipal Airport, welcomed the National STOL team with open arms, great food, and unlimited hospitality. The community turned out for the event with over 65 volunteers; the highest number of volunteers ever at a single National STOL event.
Throughout the weekend, attendees were also treated to tours of the America Legend Aircraft factory. With a number of Legend Cubs competing during the weekend, the inside look at the production of these incredible aircraft rounded out the experience for many of the pilots and spectators on site.
Due to a number of last minute additions and withdrawals, 44 competitor entries ended up being 39 pilots taking to the skies in the final competition of the 2023 season.
In the Rookie Class…a last minute withdrawal left only two competitors in the Rookie Class; American Legend Aircraft former test pilot Danny Goggans, and Wes Huston in a newly completed Chinook Plus 2. While Goggans made a strong showing in “Scrappy,” the first fuselage Legend ever built, Huston came out on top and now must compete only in the Sport class at future events.
In the Touring Class…Brandon Corn in the Cessna 205 completed his season of of perfect attendance with yet another first place finish at Lonestar STOL. However, John McCardle flying the Maule M5 narrowed the gap between 1st and 2nd place from 170′ at Music City to a mere 42′ at Lonestar. Keep an eye on McCardle to be a strong contender in 2024!
Trevor Smith in the Cessna 150 Aerobat finished in 3rd place, followed by local pilot Mike McClendon in a Maule M7. Jeff Abrams in the mighty Piperzilla finished in 5th, still earning enough points to maintain a podium finish in season standings.
In the Backcountry Class…It was heartbreak for Jeff Pohl in the “Dirty Bird” Cessna 170B as he pushed it to the edge trying to regain supremacy at the final event of the season. His aggressive approach resulted in scratching the landing on all three rounds and no official score on the books for the event.
Season points champion Micah Lindstrom, also in a 170B, thought he had the competition wrapped up after clean landings and a best score of 179′ after the first two rounds. However, after two straight scratches, young Austin Clemens (Aviat Husky A1C) came in with an unbelievable 68′ landing in the final round to finish in 1st place with a combined take off and landing distance of 134′. With Pohl’s DQ, Joel Dopson (Cessna 172) snuck onto the podium in 3rd place, followed by Jerry Clemens (Aviat Husky A1C) and Scott Sweet (Bellanca Scout).
In the Adventure Class…The Legend MOACs (Mother of All Cubs) reigned supreme, with hometown favorite Luke Spoor besting Brian Steck by a mere 8′. Brian Shirley took third, and the entire spread from 1st-3rd place was only 15′, demonstrating the consistency and performance of the aircraft.
Newcomers James Barkheimer in the CubCrafters EX2 and Trevor “Dozen” Aldridge in the brand new Super Patriot M2 pushed the veteran competitors and finished in 4th and 5th place, respectively. It was a disappointing end to the season for Keith Lange in the certified Piper SuperCub, DQing after three straight scratches, along with Adam Gordon (CubCrafters EX2).
In the Sport Class…a record 15 competitors competed in the Sport Class at Lonestar STOL. Up and comer Joel Milloway (Rans S7) achieved his goal of beating Rick Boardman (CubCrafters SS) to finish in 1st place. Boardman took second, followed by Collin Caneva, flying his first airplane of the day, in 3rd.
Milloway’s win clinched the third position in season points standings behind Boardman and Caneva, narrowly edging out Nick Ardillo and Justin Tisdale, who were also in contention.
In the Unlimited Class…while two of the top contenders, Steve Henry and Hal Stockman, were unable to attend Lonestar STOL, an absolute clinic was put on by the four competitors of the Unlimited Class!
Dan Reynolds, who had spend the summer up in Canada modifying his Chinook Valdez Special, put together three clean runs and finished in first place with a combined take off and landing of 57′. STOL royalty Frank Knapp, flying a Legend Super Legend, took second place at 79′. Eddie Sanches, premiering his new Just Highlander “Devil Girl” in National STOL competition this year finished in 3rd, with Collin Caneva rounding out the pack in his second competition airplane, the Legend MOAC.
Dan Reynolds also took home Most Consistent Pilot with only 8′ in deviation between his three runs, as well as Grand Champion. Luke Spoor received the Pilot Performance Index award, and Rick Boardman once again was voted Fan Favorite amongst the Lonestar STOL competitors. For full competition results, click here.
The weekend concluded with a closing dinner hosted by American Legend Aircraft. Pilots, volunteers, and sponsors were treated to some of the best Texas BBQ they’ve ever tasted. Awards for both Lonestar and the 2023 season were presented before the party continued late into the night.
Final Season Standings
Final season standing can be found at https://nationalstol.com/2023-season-standings/. Individual event results can be found at the bottom of the page. You can watch Friday’s full competitor practice, Saturday’s competition, and Saturday evening’s awards ceremony in their entirety on YouTube. In addition, visit National STOL’s social media pages for many more photos and videos from Lonestar STOL!
From all of us at National STOL, thank you for an incredible 2023 season! We plan to announce the 2024 schedule sometime in December, and hope you will once again join us in the fastest growing sport in general aviation!