Warming Up for Oshkosh at Sodbusters STOL

Perfectly located just 54 miles south of Oshkosh, National STOL’s fifth event of the summer, Sodbusters STOL, took place this past weekend in Hartford, WI. While rains threatened late in the day on Saturday, 29 competitors took to the skies in warm and dry conditions. For many, Sodbusters was just the start to a week of celebrating aviation here in Wisconsin.

Steve Krog of Kylie’s Cub Air Flight School rallied the community of Hartford to come out and show their support throughout the weekend. An estimated 900-1200 individuals came out to enjoy the competition and enjoy local food trucks. For pilots and volunteers, a gourmet buffet was served in the hangar at lunch. When a storm front passed through Saturday evening, the flight school hangar not only protected many of the competitors’ aircraft, but also turned into pizza party central until late into the night.

Practice wrapped early on Friday to allow pilots plenty of time to head over to Rock the Ramp in Middleton, WI. On Saturday, 29 competitors, a mix of STOL veterans and rookies, competed in three rounds to achieve the shortest take off and landing scores:

In the Rookie Class…local pilot Finn Bourne took home first place in his Husky A-1B. Dan Bishop in the Piper PA-11 finished second, and Christi Masi, trained by CC Pocock, finished third in the Murphy Elite.

In the Touring Class…While Kurt Leaders continued his upward projectory finishing first at Sodbusters, second place winner Brandon Corn is the first pilot to break 100 in the overall season points. Aaron Greear, competing for the first time in Touring this year, took home third.

In the Backcountry Class…The three-way battle between Micah Lindstrom, Austin Clemens, and Jeff Pohl led to one of the most exciting moments of Sodbusters. While Lindstrom took first AND became the new season points leader for the class, Clemens and Pohl tied for second with IDENTICAL take offs and landings in the third round of competition. Later in the day, a run off was held to break the tie, with Clemens besting Pohl for sole possession of second place.

In the Adventure Class…The battle of the MOACs was won by Brian Steck, continuing his perfect record in competitions he has attended in 2023. His 87 foot landing was the ONLY sub-100 foot landing of the day across all classes. Luke Spoor finished second in his MOAC, with Kyle Bushman in the Backcountry Super Cub placing third.

In the Sport Class…Collin Caneva was untouchable with all three of his rounds shorter than his closest competitor’s best. Patrick McInteer, competing in a standard class for the first time (after winning the Rookie class two weeks ago in MN) took home second. Nick Ardillo finished third.

In the Unlimited Class…While two of his three passes were disqualified due to scratches, Steve Henry once again finished first in the YeeHaw 8. Jason Busat returned to competition in his new Rans S-20 and took second place, finishing a mere 15 feet longer than Henry. Fan favorite Hal Stockman placed third, just 14 feet behind Busat. All three competitors finished with distances less than 30 feet in variation from one another.

Brian Steck from the Adventure Class won the Pilot Performance Index award, while Joel Dopson (4th in Backcountry Class) was the Most Consistent. Steve Henry was awarded overall Grand Champion.

Many of the competitors and fans who came out to Hartford made the trek to Oshkosh Saturday evening or Sunday morning for the 70th Anniversary of EAA at AirVenture. You can see many of our pilots as part of the Twilight Flight Fest STOL demos, to be held on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings at 8pm at the Ultralight Runway. Or, you may just spot them showing off their awards from the weekend as they camp underwing!

For full National STOL results from Sodbusters 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 practice, qualifying, and finals competitions can be viewed in their entirety on YouTube.

Our next event is Rocky Mountain STOL in Pinedale, Wyoming, August 11-12!

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