This last Spring I made it down to Texas to attend the first annual Texas STOL Roundup, a fly-in and competition organized by my friend Phil Whittemore. Phil picked me up at Austin International in his Skywagon, and after sampling local taco truck we headed out to his home base at Spicewood airport, which was experiencing uncharacteristically calm winds , and an amazing Blue bonnet explosion.
Phil is living the pilot’s dream in that he has 2 airplanes, and in this case they’re both bushplanes, one for going fast and one for going slow. He’d just ferried his new SQ-2 down from Alaska and was having way too much fun practicing for Saturday's competition. It was time for him to gear up though and head to Llano a day early to prep the fly-in.
While Phil flew the wagon down to Llano, I drove his truck with all my video gear and some supplies for the fly-in. No sooner had I arrived when I met Luke, AKA Skalywag from Presidio county. We decided to go explore some of the sidecountry spots and shoot some footage of his '59 Skylane tailwheel conversion.
After bouncing in the hot afternoon Texas skies, the waterfall felt like some Shangri-La, a temporary paradise only landable during the drier months, as the strip is normally flooded by the Colorado river. Fish were jumping just 20 feet off the bank, birds were thermaling, and honestly I would have rather spent the night here than my hotel room.
The next morning brought with it all the excitement and nerves of a competition, kinda reminding me of my days racing motorcycles. And I wasn’t even flying. There was a pilot meeting to go over the procedures and the rules. The format was slightly different as there were 2 different thresholds for takeoffs and landings with judges positioned at each. Classes were similar to those Valdez, with Bush, Light Touring, Heavy Touring, Experimental, and today would kick off with the Light Sport.
The great winds of Texas… they didn’t stop the entire time I was here. My trip was filled with good airplanes, great people, and some fun flying. Thanks to everyone for a great experience, and we’ll see you all again at Llano next year.
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