Watch This Backcountry Pilot Land On A 50 Percent Grade

The right aircraft can take you just about anywhere you want to go. If you want to go somewhere remote, hilly and dangerous, you need a very specialized aircraft to get in and out safely. Wild West Aircraft, maker of the Super STOL, has the perfect solution for pilots brave and crazy enough to explore the backcountry in a most extreme fashion.

Flight Club spoke to Steve Henry, the pilot in the video, and he told us that he flew this aircraft all the way from Idaho to Alaska and back. According to Steve, “they don’t really stall.”


He went on to say that about the slowest you can get them to is in the low 30’s, a limit we can clearly see him test in the video. The plane weighs about 850 pounds empty, but Steve usually sets the gross weight at 1320 pounds. He said it could even go all the way up to 1,700 pounds if necessary.

The Wild West Aircraft Super STOL is a kit plane and has a wingspan of 31 feet, 3 inches which can also fold for transporting. This one has a Rotax 914 engine and will cruise at 100 miles per hour, with a climb rate of 1,000 feet per minute. The Super STOL kit starts at $42,000, not including engine, instruments and paint. Or, you know, labor, which you’d likely be doing yourself.

Short takeoff and landing (STOL) capability decouples fixed-wing aircraft from traditional runways, as they are able to get airborne or come to a complete stop in far less distance than their more conventional, runway bound counterparts. This Super STOL aircraft has heavy duty suspension and oversized tires (even the tail wheel has a hydraulic shock) to provide cushioning from obstacles.


Steve has several highly quotable moments in the video, including, “You just want to turn around quick enough so you don’t flip over sideways,” and my personal favorite, “you gotta be kinda careful here. There’s rocks.” Yes, yes there are.

The crazy doesn’t end there. Steve also has video of an unbelievable dead stick takeoff, flight and landing in the same aircraft. In this video, the Super STOL is no more than a glider, and the lack of engine noise and spinning prop confirm that this man has some serious confidence in his skills as well as his aircraft.

Special thanks to Steve Henry for his time in researching this post. And to all of you bush pilots, please be safe when you are out there doing your crazy business!

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Brian, The Life of

My Dad’s old J-3 Cub had a glacial stall speed. IIRC, it was in the high 20’s. Growing up where I did, we had constant and predictable winds 300-some days per year. We actually achieved negative ground speed once. Using the wing spars as a visual reference, I watched as he slowed the plane until forward motion stopped and we actually started to slowly fly backwards. Unsettling but cool to my then 13 year old self.