As the sun sets on a summer of incredible STOL action, Music City STOL in Gallatin, TN, provided an unforgettable weekend in country music’s hometown. The 7th and penultimate event of the 2023 season, Music City is poised to become a cornerstone of the National STOL circuit.
Local hosts Chad and Luciana Hall of BOLD Aviation rallied the community of Gallatin to put on one of the biggest events of the season thus far. With amazing swag bags, a Friday night hangar BBQ with live music, and a fully stocked pilot’s lounge available throughout the weekend, competitors felt the southern hospitality from touch down to take off.
When competition day arrived, fans were greeted by a moving flyover during the National Anthem. Then, 28 competitors took to the line in order to earn their best take off and landing scores:
In the Rookie Class…Chase Bentley out of Dry Ridge, KY, in his Cessna 170 took first place over challengers Daniel Donahue (Stinson 108), local pilot James Abbott (Cessna 182B), and Justin Burkholder (Maule M5). Bentley must now compete in the Backcountry class at his next competition.
In the Touring Class…Season points leader Brandon Corn took home yet ANOTHER first place finish, beating his nearest competitor by more than 170′. James McCardle (last seen competing in the Rookie class at the Wayne America Fly-In) finished second, with the ever popular “Piperzilla,” flown by Jeff Abrams, taking home third.
In the Backcountry Class…A new wrinkle emerged within one of the most riveting storylines of the 2023 season, as the Cessna 170B battle became even MORE stacked. Rivals Jeff Pohl and Micah Lindstrom were BOTH upset this weekend by the STOL Trooper, Shawn Johnson, who had not appeared since Swamp STOL to open the season. Johnson’s win makes the season points race between Lindstrom and Pohl even tighter than it was before.
In the Adventure Class…The Legend MOACs reigned supreme, with young Luke Spoor putting down dominant numbers to finish in first place with Brian Shirley in second. Keith Lange premiered his black Piper Cub, “Pepper,” in National STOL competition for the first time this season, placing 3rd for the day just 13′ behind Shirley.
In the Sport Class…Seasoned competitor Rick Boardman BARELY held off Joel Milloway (appearing in only his second National STOL event of the season), taking first place by a mere 2 feet. Nick Ardillo continues to climb the ranks of the Sport Class and finished 3rd.
In the battle of the Zeniths, Sheldon Heatherington recovered from a Friday afternoon maintenance issue and with just 10 minutes to spare before his heat, appeared on the taxiway cleared and ready to compete. He and Justin Tisdale duked it out, with Heatherington reigning supreme.
In the Unlimited Class…While many of the frequent Unlimited class competitors were unable to attend Music City STOL, pilots Patrick McInteer (Rans S-7) and Charles Lilly (CubCrafters CC11-160) decided late Friday night to throw their hats into the ring and face off in a head-to head grudge match. They put on quite the show for the crowd, with McInteer coming out on top prior to a champagne shower on the runway.
In addition, local pilot Abe Gaskins flew Exhibition in his twin engine, open cockpit Aircam.
Micah Lindstrom took home the award for the Most Consistent Pilot, while Luke Spoor won the Pilot Performance Index. Rick Boardman won not only Grand Champion, but was also voted “Fan Favorite” amongst the Music City STOL competitors.
Two new technological features premiered at Music City STOL. For the first time, the National STOL video team had the ability to conduct live interviews from the paddock, approaching pilots the moment they stepped out of their planes after competition. In addition, local sponsor Firefly LED graciously provided a large LED screen so that the crowd was able to enjoy the same footage as those at home watching the live broadcast.
Music City STOL was blessed with OUTSTANDING community support. Along with our local hosts from BOLD Aviation, we’d like to thank Matt Harris (Chairman) and the Music City Airport Board ; Jeff Dunham (Airport Manager) and Ben Eickhoff (Jet Access Manager), as well as their incredible teams; the Nashville 99s; the Sumner County CAP Squadron; Mayor Paige Brown; the City of Gallatin and Sumner County Tourism Board; the National STOL volunteers; and the incredible first responders and emergency response teams that came out to support Music City STOL.
For full National STOL results from Music City STOL, including updated season standings, visit https://nationalstol.com/2023-season-standings/
Visit the National STOL social media pages for plenty of photos and videos from the event. Livestream recordings of National STOL’s practices and competitions can be viewed in their entirety on YouTube.
Don’t miss the exciting conclusion of the 2023 National STOL Season! Join us in Sulphur Springs, TX, November 3-4 for the National Championship: Lonestar STOL, Presented by American Legend Aircraft!
Full event details and registration can be found at nationalstol.com/lonestar.