Short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft have been in development since the mid-1930s, when the Germans produced the Fieseler Storch. The Storch was famously used to rescue deposed Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini from his 9000ft high mountain-top prison in the Gran Sasso Massif in Italy, and was flown by Hanna Reisch on a trip to Hitler’s bunker in Berlin in April 1945. But the world leading STOL Bushplane, today, is the very impressive DRACO. Eight days before the EAA AirVenture 2018, Mike Patey completed DRACO and flew it to Oshkosh, where it stole the show.
DRACO began life as a PZL Wilga but Patey heavily modified it into an experimental one-off exhibition category aircraft. He introduced a huge horsepower increase with the 680-shp Pratt & Whitney PT6A-28 turboprop engine and its 102-inch, four-blade MT propeller. With an empty weight of 2400 lbs, Patey can liftoff in about 100 feet, pitch to 30 degrees and maintain a climb of 4,000 feet per minute! The 2,500-pound four-seater has a stall speed of approximately 35 mph. Compare DRACO to the Storch—do they look like cousins? When you set out performance parameters with the exact same demands, the aerodynamics required will always lead to a similar looking airplane. For an in-depth PIREP on the Storch, don’t miss Budd Davisson’s report at http://airbum.com/pireps/PirepStorch.html.
By Tom Atwood