The 2018 Valdez Fly in - The view of a STOL Judge.


May is finally here in the State of Alaska, the first weekend the Anchorage Trade show took place where millions of dollars were, made by selling helicopters,airplanes, head sets, shirts ect!
This weekend the 2018 Valdez Fly in took place. Valdez just 126 miles west of Anchorage is home to a massive Fly in. Every Mother day weekend Valdez goes from a town of 3,000 people to about 10,000 people. This year the major acts were Scott Sexton and his Citabria, Gary Ward in his MX2 and Everts in their C46 “Commando”.

Our day started on Thursday at 2230 (0630z), we began our drive to Valdez. Weather was not the best, until we hit Thompson Pass, it was about 39F (3.9C) and pouring down rain. We arrived into Valdez at 0400, (1200z) and set up camp. Unfortunately due to the rain our tent flooded.

That morning was spent saying hello to friend we haven’t seen since last fly in and coffee at the bar, as the coffee continued to be brewed through the afternoon the rain kept going. About 1300ish the rain finally gave up and stopped, Scott Sexton began his aerobatic training flight for this weekend. Slowly more people showed up. As people arrived the crowd slow grew.

Day two was the official day. The United States Coast Guard Kodiak, Alaska flew in with their C130 and MH60 Jayhawk, while it’s always nice seeing the Coast Guard arrive, this wasn’t the best static display. The best (According to the Official Valdez Fly in) was Everts Air Cargo’s C46 “Commando” which arrived a short time after from Kenai.

(Coast Guard Kodak Alaska C130 along with the BO105)

(Coast Guard Kodiak Alaska C130 and their MH60 “Jayhawk”)

(Everts Air Cargo C46 “Commando” shortly after arriving to Valdez)

As the rain kept several pilots forums were held, I attended an interested one from the FAA FAAST team about Helo-1, an AS350B3 “AStar” that crashed in 2015, Mike York (FAA) educated us on what went wrong when the State Trooper’s helicopter went into IMC conditions and explained how the NTSB was able to recreate the video. Flying helicopters, I thought it was a very good and interesting course! They also discussed how the pilot caged the electronic artificial horizon, they were able to tell due to the camera the troopers put into the cockpit which video the pilot crashing.

(Mike York starting his conversation)

(Mike explaining what is going on. I will post a link if anyone is interested!)

Finally the rain let up, meaning Scott Sexton of Kenai was up to show off. Scott has been doing aerobatics for years, and is currently a 747 pilot for UPS.

(Scott Sexton)

I was able spend time with Scott Sexton on Friday, he had added me on facebook and I said “Hello my name is Mark”, Scott with a grin on his face goes “Mark Stürsy? Nice to finally meet you!”

After Scott was done, Gary Ward in his MX2 decided to show off for us also. Gary joined us last year and was able join us again at Valdez this year again, in his own words, “Valdez is my favourite airshow to attend”

(Credit to Jean-marie Urlacher)

Gary, 76, put on an absolutely amazing show for the crowd! With his spins, turns, twist and a humble attitude with the crowd.

Finally, the aircraft we all really wanted to see, the C46 began to start up. The C46 took 11 gallons of fuel to start up, by the time it was ready to take off 100 gallons was used. Last year we bagged the crew to do the STOL competition, it finally took them a year later to figure out how short they could take off. We ran out to the runway to set up the line.
With full power the 46 took off, 536ft was his take off distant! The 46 wowed the crowd as it did slow and “fast” fly bys

(Credit to Jean-marie Urlacher)

Joe Prax, Through out the day more aircraft arrived with the weather breaking and opening up. Aircraft flew in, around 12 pm the STOL competition set up took place. We began marking our lines with chalk, and set up our cones.

(Credit to Jean-marie Urlacher)

Unfortunately, our chalk machine broke so everything was hand done this year.

(Credit to Jean-marie Urlacher)

We began with the Heavy Touring Class, the official rule states
“C-180, C-185, C-182, C-206, and C-210; Maule M-9
Otherwise, other FAA certified ASEL models as determined by gross weight from
2,500 to 3,600 lbs gross weight.”

The rules for landing is your main gear must pass the white line (seen in several pictures) If you land short of it, you would be disqualified.

(Credit to Jean-marie Urlacher)

The shortest was the L32 “Grasshopper”, he didn’t win since he disqualified himself by telling us he really should of competed with as an experimental aircraft.

(Heavy Touring L32 Grasshopper)

Due to the Ravn Flight, we had to hold the competition. Originally two F22s from Elmendorf AFB were suppose to make a fly over, sadly they did not due to Maintenance issues. The US Coast Guard launched their MH60 to show off, which sadly was launched for a missing airplane on it’s way to Valdez.

(Credit to Jean-marie Urlacher)

After the Heavy touring was the Light touring aircraft:
“C-150, C-152, C-170, C-172, C-175, and C-177; Stinson 108-2; Maule M-4, M-5, M-6,
and M-7 Otherwise, other FAA certified ASEL models as determined by gross weight from
2,301 to 2,499 lbs gross weight.”

The infamous C170 Mafia showed up to compete. There were several times we (the judges) were expecting them to strike their prop. Terry Godes of Soldotna, Alaska was a huge concern for us.

(Credit to Jean-marie Urlacher, Terry G and his C170)

(Credit to Jean-marie Urlacher)

This was a great heat, the difference between 1st place and 4th place of was a total of 5ft.

Next was Light Sport / Light Experimental Class:
“Just Super STOL, Piper J-3, PA-11, Cub Crafters Carbon Cub SS, Tcraft <1320
Also, FAA certified and Experimental ASEL models as determined by gross weight up to
1,320 lbs.”

(Photo credit:Credit to Jean-marie Urlacher/Spencer Wallace of Canada in his Chinook)

(Photo credit:Credit to Jean-marie Urlacher/Frank Knapp on final)

We did have a close call, Frank also hit us with his wing.

Next we had the Bush Classes

Bush Class Prelims:
“PA-12, 14, 18, and PA-22; Stinson 105; Citabria; Huskies; Tern; Scout, Tcraft >1320
Otherwise, other FAA certified ASEL models as determined by gross weight from
1,320 to 2,300 lbs gross weight.”

(Photo credit:Credit to Jean-marie Urlacher/Cory Lee and his newly built Super Cub)

(Photo credit:Credit to Jean-marie Urlacher/Aircraft getting ready to land)

Last but not lease was the
Alternate Bush / Experimental Class:
“Aircraft FAA licensed as Experimental with gross weight above 1,320 lbs.” This is your experimental cubs.

(Photo credit:Credit to Jean-marie Urlacher)

(Photo credit:Credit to Jean-marie Urlacher/US Coast Guard C130 departing Valdez)

Shortest take off was 26ft. It was actually really impressive watching it. With the Coast Guard leaving, and the crowds dying down the little kids inside of us showed up. myself, and a few other people meet up with Leigh of Vertical Solutions, to play with her new 20 thousand dollar remote control tug to move her AStar with. Our friend asked her if she thought she could ride it, with a grin on her face she jumped on it and drove around.
She finally asked if anyone wanted to drive it, I jumped on the opportunity and asked if it would be okay to ride on top of it, she laughed and said “go for it” so we drove it down to the C46 and I asked if anyone else wanted to ride it, our friend said “Yes!” and also hopped on. Just a bunch of grown adults riding a remote control tug around.

We finally concluded the day and we were off to the Valdez Fly in Banquet. Joe Prax came on stage and began the banquet with the announcement that an aircraft was over due and the Coast Guard is searching for it through the pass. The pilot was on his way to Valdez for the fly in, unfortunately he did not make it later the Coast Guard and Alaska Mountain Rescue would find him and his aircraft.

As the night carried on same as new relationships, new friendships, telling aviation stories.
Pilots who competed were award their prizes. Jacob Williams won the STOL fly in, winning a set of brand new 35 inch tires.

(Photo credit:Credit to Jean-marie Urlacher)

Comedian Garry Anderson entertained the crowd this year, he was hysterical. With the mood improving everyone enjoyed it!

(Photo credit:Credit to Jean-marie Urlacher)

The night ended with camp fires, beer and new friends at the airport. It was a great evening.

Sunday came and tear down began.
Scott Sexton and Gary ward performed their show, people began to leave early due to weather moving in, while some people stayed for the flower bombing and balloon bust the crowd sure didn’t. This year Canada won the flower bombing with 3ft to the target, we didn’t stay for the balloon bust so we also departed.

We had maybe 100 aircraft show up. Thousands of others by Commercial flight and by car. I highly recommend you attending Valdez and seeing real Alaska!
If you attend Valdez next year come find me and let’s take a selfie!

Video of Helo 1 recreation crash by NTSB and commentary from NTSB

Valdez STOL Live Stream!
(STOL starts at 01:46)

Here are the official results of the 2018 Fly in STOL Winners

Heavy Touring:
In third place, Rod Hanson (C185C) with a combination score of 327ft
in second place, David Calkins (C85F) with a combination score of 284ft
in first place, James Spokes (C180A) with a combination score of 271ft

Light Touring:
In fourth place, Mark Hesner (C170B) with a combination score of 197ft
In third place, Ben Brown (C172) with a combination score of 196ft
In second place, Shawn Holly (C170B) with a combination score of 195ft
In first place, Isaac Bedingfield (Backcountry Maule M235) with a combination score of 183ft

Light Sport:
In third place, Spencer Wallace (Birdman Chinook) with a combination score of 256ft
In second place, Dan Reynolds (Birdman Chinook) with a combination score of 41ft
In First place, Frank Knapp (Custom J3) with a combination score of 33ft

Dan broke Valdez Shortest landing. Last year Frank Knapp was 10.3ft, his was 9.5
Frank broke Valdez shortest take off he had a take off last year of 13ft, this year was 11ft

Bush Class (E)
In third place, Shane O’Caine (PA18) with a combination score of, 299ft
In second place, Kevin Doyle (PA18) with a combination score of 144ft
In first place, Jacob Williams (PA18) with a combination score of 136ft

Bush Class (F)
In third place, Shane O’Caine (PA18) with a combination score of 188ft
Rest DQ

Alternate Bush (Experimental)
In third place, Lukas Stutzer (PA18 Expt) with a combination score of 163ft
In second place, Chuck Kinberger (PA18 Expt) with a combination score of 140ft
In first place, Toby Ashley (Carbon Cub) with a combination score of 105ft



Sorry all - Fixed the updated time on when the STOL starts!

Did you get any other shots of the BO105?

Unfortunately I didn’t, that’s Maritime’s BO105 that’s based in Valdez real pretty BO105, though since we’re competitors of theirs I have to say ours is better ;)

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Looks like it would be fun to watch!

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It is specially from the flight line!

I love all of these pics and information provided with them! Thanks for posting this

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You’re welcome! I am so glad I was able meet people who took these pictures, and I could grab a few!

ah yes Everts… Love their DC-6s, but the c-46 is good too. I need to get in the cockpit of one of those just for the experience

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😳 Talk about close call. If this doesn’t get your blood pumping not sure what would.

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It’s not a 47 it’s a 46, the 46 is able take a DC3 and everything in the DC3 and fly it. It’s a beast!

You have no idea how fast our hearts started beating, we were ready to hide behind the ops truck, it was so scary lol

thanks for the show report @anon93248082! Loved the pictures as well! Never seen a VTOL competion and was very intrested in that. DId they have to Take off and then Land on the same runway within a certain distance, or was it a take-off, circuit and land?

Never seen a C-46 before so have rushed off to find out more about it. sure looks a gracefuly lady and ahead of her times!

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Thanks! I am glad you enjoyed it!

So aircraft would take off and do a pattern then land. We allowed 3 times 1st take off and landing was practice the second and third finally counted to their score

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