Very close to ordering a SuperSTOL XL

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Very close to ordering a SuperSTOL XL

Postby Tori » Fri Dec 04, 2015 8:01 am

Hi everyone,

I'm very close to ordering a SuperSTOL XL kit, and would appreciate the input of anyone more experienced than I am (which is to say, at least as far as building a plane goes, very likely the vast majority of you).

My short list of criteria: Great STOL capability; two-seats in a side-by-side configuration; lots of power; Conventional gear; I want something relatively easy and fun to fly. It's not going to be a "go places" plane, it's going to be a fly around and come home plane, so cruise speed isn't all that important. I'm building for E/A-B, not LSA.

I don't really have any intention of doing a whole lot of off-airport landings, with the exception of my own yard, where I can rip out enough trees to make a modest "runway" (which could be up to about 1500' long (with large trees on either end)). I am under no illusion that I can accomplish the kinds of 20' landings I see folks doing on youtube, still, I want the landings as short as practical. I'll also need to land, from time to time, on paved runways, which I have been told is a challenge with big tires.

I live in the white mountains of New Hampshire and will be doing a lot of flying around big hills, if that matters.

I understand I'm probably asking fans of Just Aircraft, but I'll ask anyway: are there any caveats or reasons I *shouldn't* go with the SuperSTOL XL?

I'm considering the UL520i engine.

Are there any options you guys would suggest, or other words of wisdom before I place an order?

Or, dare I ask - am I buying the wrong plane? Is there another you'd suggest? I've looked at quite a few kits, but I keep coming back to the SuperSTOL.
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Re: Very close to ordering a SuperSTOL XL

Postby markdille » Fri Dec 04, 2015 9:02 am

Sounds like you may want to take a look at the Glasair Sportsman. It would be a better fit for pavement and definitely can handle off airport landings when properly equipped. It's not setup for the extreme like the XL, but it will easily do what you ask. For your requirements, you may find it to be the better aircraft, but either is an outstanding piece of machinery.
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Re: Very close to ordering a SuperSTOL XL

Postby SuperFly » Fri Dec 04, 2015 9:12 am

Hi Tori,

It sounds to me like perhaps you should look into the Highlander as a very viable option given your mission. The SuperSTOL is a great airplane, but is (in my opinion) built for take offs and landing, and dropping it in to unimproved spots. The Highlander has the same cockpit dimensions (SuperSTOL XL is longer), but cockpit area is the same, so cabin comfort is identical. The Highlander flies and lands like a conventional airplane (which would very very easily fly in and out of 1500')
It is a lighter airplane, which is good all the way around. The Highlander is a much more affordable airplane to build, and would be better suited to landing on pavement regularly.
All that said, The SuperSTOL is a hoot to fly, and I am very excited to be flying mine very soon. The SuperSTOL can be outfitted with a bit smaller tires than you typically see. Alot of guys install 26 or 29" tires (myself included) but I believe there are 21" tires that are used that would be much less expensive to replace as they wear on pavement.
I dont have a lot of time in the Highlander (a few hours) and only a few more in the SuperSTOL at this point, but they fly very different. Very Different. Not bad at all, just very different. The SuperSTOL flies like nothing I have ever flown before, and I am very glad I went and flew with Harrison and Billy a bit to learn some of the differences.
I think it would be worth the time for you to go to the factory and do a bit of flying in both airplanes. So you can be very comfortable with your decision.

Aside from that, welcome to the Just Aircraft builders family. Its a great group of people...
Best,
Ben Schneider
Highlander #263 converted to SuperSTOL
N45FT Now Flying!
http://www.stolairplane.com
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Re: Very close to ordering a SuperSTOL XL

Postby marl59 » Fri Dec 04, 2015 12:47 pm

Hi Tori,
Having read your mission, I have to agree with Superfly about the Highlander. I have owned one for a couple of months now, (built by an excellent craftsman), and I have been landing it on mostly paved runways so far. The plane has 29" Airstreak tires and handles landings very well. Just stay vigilant with the controls. I came from the Cherokee, V tail Bonanza crowd. I got my tailwheel training/endorsement in this plane and don't have any experience in the SS XL. But I can speak to the super short TO and Landing capabilities of the Highlander. It is pure fun!! Thought I'd give my 2 cents. Good luck!
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Re: Very close to ordering a SuperSTOL XL

Postby Tori » Fri Dec 04, 2015 1:41 pm

Thanks for the replies!!

I should have mentioned that I own an R44 helicopter - my partner is the helicopter pilot, I'm not rated in it, helicopters aren't my thing - but I'm a little envious of the short approaches the R44 can make. I've always liked the idea of very, very short field take off and landing, even if I have more room.

Right now, my "runway" is about 300' long - for the helicopter. I intend to make it as long as necessary, and then add enough for comfort, but right now it's trees. If I build and fly a new airplane and find I comfortably land in 600' (at the nearby grass-strip airport) then I'd only want to clear 700' or maybe 800' of trees, not go all the way to 1500'. That's a lot of trees. I'd rather be flying than cutting down trees and pulling stumps!

I flew in a Highlander this morning. It is quite a nice plane. Maybe I should go down to the factory to try the SS.

Thanks!
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Re: Very close to ordering a SuperSTOL XL

Postby Clark in AZ » Fri Dec 04, 2015 2:13 pm

Any specific reason you are more interested in the XL vs the regular SS?
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Re: Very close to ordering a SuperSTOL XL

Postby Tori » Fri Dec 04, 2015 2:32 pm

Clark in AZ wrote:Any specific reason you are more interested in the XL vs the regular SS?


The ability to put in a bigger/heavier engine and pretend I'm flying a helicopter when I take off ;)
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Re: Very close to ordering a SuperSTOL XL

Postby Familyflyer » Fri Dec 04, 2015 4:25 pm

Landing on pave is a none issue. The landing roll is over so fast you go from flying to taxi before it can get away. If you land fast there is no transition that most tail wheel airplanes have, the time where a tail wheel airplanes try's to bite you. Usually just before you slow down to taxi speed. It just does not have that, making it a great first tail wheel plane.
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Re: Very close to ordering a SuperSTOL XL

Postby Tori » Fri Dec 04, 2015 9:04 pm

Glad to hear the pavement shouldn't present too much difficulty. I only expect to land on pavement every now and then, 99% of my landings will be grass or gravel, so I don't want to base my aircraft choice/wheel choice on the off times I'd land on pavement.

Anyone have any thoughts on powering a SS XL with the 180hp UL520i? I know it's not exactly the most tested engine out there, but I'm definitely liking what I'm hearing about it.
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Re: Very close to ordering a SuperSTOL XL

Postby Tori » Fri Dec 04, 2015 9:20 pm

markdille wrote:Sounds like you may want to take a look at the Glasair Sportsman.


Thank you! I took a look at Glasair; they definitely have some sweet airplanes! But looking at their interior, while amazing and lovely, isn't the kind of feel I'd like to have be in the first airplane I build. I want my airplane to feel more retro inside - and, to the extent I can, I'm going with old-school avionics (knowing that I'll probably need something modern for engine gauges, particularly with the UL520i). That just feels wrong in a Glasair.
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Re: Very close to ordering a SuperSTOL XL

Postby SuperFly » Fri Dec 04, 2015 11:41 pm

From talking with Harrison (the CFI the who works with the factory and did a lot of the demo flying of the SS XL with the UL520), he really likes the engine. They had some issues with the oil cooler blowing out, (several I think) They had one built to a 300PSI rating rather than the 100psi that the UL supplied cooler was rated at, and the problem went away. I am sure that UL is aware of the issue, and would think they would have taken measures to remedy the problem by now. But it may be something to ask about.
The SuperSTOL XL that the factory was flying for demos was the only UL520 flying as of this summer. I dont know if more have come online since then, as I have not followed it. Harrison liked the power the 520 had, as it gave great take off performance, and it has the potential to climb you out of some sticky situations you may get yourself into. There was however very little gain on speed with the extra HP. (not that it sounds like that matters to you anyway)
Best,
Ben Schneider
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N45FT Now Flying!
http://www.stolairplane.com
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Re: Very close to ordering a SuperSTOL XL

Postby av8rps » Sat Dec 05, 2015 9:20 am

I agree that flying both the Super Stol and the Highlander for comparison would be good to do. I personally feel that a Highlander is more STOL than most people will ever need or use. But if you want the ultimate in a STOL aircraft that will take you to the most extreme places in the world that few aircraft can go to, than the SS is the one for you. For me, I enjoy the faster cruise speed of the Highlander, and better load carrying ability of the overall lighter airframe. I can live just fine with the slightly reduced STOL, as the Highlander imho is still as good or better than the average Super Cub or Husky. But you know what? Whatever Just Aircraft design you choose, you will really like it. They have incredible airplanes.

Oh, and if you want big tires that you can also use on blacktop, put on the new Desser bush tires that are more practical for asphalt ops, while also still pretty good in the back country. The AK Bushwheels are still best for the back country, but the Dessers are a really effective (and inexpensive) option.

Whatever Just Aircraft you choose, welcome to the family! It's a really great group.
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Re: Very close to ordering a SuperSTOL XL

Postby av8rps » Sat Dec 05, 2015 9:41 am

On the UL 520 engine, I noticed in a recent article about the SS XL they gave dimensions and pitch of the prop. I don't have that in front of me right now, but a friend of mine commented that it was similar sized and pitch to what smaller Continentals and Lycomings run. If that is true, it makes me wonder what kind of thrust in pounds that engine and prop is putting out? The article said they timed their climb rate at a weight of 1400 lbs and got 747 fpm. My 912s Highlander will do that or better, so for what it's worth I'm a bit skeptical on the true power of that engine. But then again, I'm not a fan of engines turning big props that turn faster than conventional aircraft engines, but don't use a gearbox to slow the prop down. But, that's just my two cents worth...
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Re: Very close to ordering a SuperSTOL XL

Postby Tori » Sun Dec 06, 2015 7:16 pm

av8rps wrote:On the UL 520 engine, I noticed in a recent article about the SS XL they gave dimensions and pitch of the prop. I don't have that in front of me right now, but a friend of mine commented that it was similar sized and pitch to what smaller Continentals and Lycomings run. If that is true, it makes me wonder what kind of thrust in pounds that engine and prop is putting out? The article said they timed their climb rate at a weight of 1400 lbs and got 747 fpm. My 912s Highlander will do that or better, so for what it's worth I'm a bit skeptical on the true power of that engine. But then again, I'm not a fan of engines turning big props that turn faster than conventional aircraft engines, but don't use a gearbox to slow the prop down. But, that's just my two cents worth...


I saw that too, it's something I want to ask the factory about. I'm okay with a modest climb rate, if it's a significantly steeper climb and the ground covered during that climb is shorter than it would be with a smaller engine. Something I need to think about. Thanks!
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Re: Very close to ordering a SuperSTOL XL

Postby av8rps » Tue Dec 08, 2015 9:52 pm

Troy will probably wanna kill me for saying this, but if I were to buld a Super Stol XL, I'd go for a pumped up 0-320 or a 0-340. I think it is ineveitable someone sooner or later will do a Lycoming with a 82 inch diameter Borer or Catto prop that will make it go upstairs with a much higher climb rate than the UL engine.
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