Sorry, no STOL kit

The 2011 Crossover Classic is the third sweepstakes project I’ve managed, plus I’ve had a front row seat on several others. And every full-restoration project posed its own set of challenges. So it is with the Crossover Classic.

Sometimes, there are surprises in the work flow: a rare part must be replaced; a substandard repair must be made right; or, in some cases, a frail, yet critical out-of-production assembly can’t be located in salvage yards, online, or from the manufacturer. So a delicate fix must be carried out. (Such as the time when we had to re-weld the aluminum air intake box on the “Win-A-Six” Cherokee Six.) Sometimes, an older airplane’s personality just seems to have a mind of its own, and resists being dragged into modernity. Sound odd to anthropomorphize an airplane? Ask any owner. They’ll tell you that airplanes do have personalities!

With the Crossover Classic, we wanted the airplane to be the very best restoration project yet. That’s a worthy goal, but there are risks. There is always the compulsion to add more and more features and equipment. But there are down sides. These include extra complexity, extra weight, and extra time in the installation and completion shops. This latter is of critical importance in the Crossover Classic’s situation.

AOPA used to give its sweepstakes airplanes away in the February after the year of the restoration. This meant we had about a year to do all the work (although many were finished well before that deadline). Now, we give the airplanes away at AOPA Summit, which this year falls in September. Suddenly, we lost precious months.

The decision to forego the Robertson STOL kit modification was in part a result of this consideration. A short takeoff and landing (STOL) kit uses aerodynamic devices of varying complexities to improve slow speed handling and reduce takeoff and landing distances. In this case, there were other factors. And none of them, by the way, should be construed to reflect adversely on any of the fine vendors who have so generously participated in this project.

No, the decision was prompted by our standing back, pausing, reflecting, and re-evaluating a project that seemed heading into more complexity than was warranted. The airplane already has a 300-hp engine (70-hp more than the stock C-182P’s 230-hp), and 12-gallon wingtip fuel tanks, not to mention an ultimate panel retrofit–centered around Garmin’s G500 PFD/MFD, JP Instruments’ EDM-930 engine data management display, and Cobham/S-TEC’s System Fifty-Five X autopilot.

Would adding the STOL kit to the mix mean the autopilot would work harder during approaches flown at low airspeeds, as are possible with the STOL kit? Could the extra fuel weight at the wingtips cause a pilot to chase roll inputs while trying to track a course at those slower airspeeds? Were we on the verge of creating a sort of new, hybrid airplane? That’s too many questions, and that’s why we decided to keep the airplane simple.

Besides, with the Teledyne Continental’s 300 horsepower, a strong argument can be made that a STOL kit simply wasn’t necessary. Trust me: the airplane leaps off the runway in very short order, and a Vx climb will have you staring at a windshield full of sky, doing at least 2,000 fpm. (A Vy climb will produce the same result). Thanks to the C182’s big, stable, standard-issue wing, approach and land with full flaps at the proper airspeed, and you’ll make the first turn-off in style at most airports.

There’s a lesson here for those considering major restorations of their own: Don’t get carried away. Four big work packages is plenty, and any more will only add more surprises–and cost!

  • Winfred Keene

    I think it would be better also for no STOL kit. The plane will be mostly used in good quality airports I suppose. Where I fly PSK Dublin VA. we have 6400 ft. and some times windy. I fly regular to 6V3 Tazewell county AP. I don’t think I’d really need a STOL at either. Never use one, but don’t thnk I’d need one. One of the pretterist paint jobs I have seen on a 182 is the red and gold on the 2010 Cessna 182T.That plane would look good like that.

  • Jeff Sumners

    I’ll take more gas any day.

  • Denis Torres

    Not a problem, a beauty as it is.

  • Raymond Craemer

    Garbage. A nosewheel needs a stol kit to operate out of short unimproved strips. I know 206s work well with a Robertson and 36 gal. Flint tips. I would rather have the STOL and a simpler Garmin. Too late now, but I bet operators in Alaska would have a different idea. I know that a STOL kit makes it easier to get the weight on the wings in a floatplane.

    Ray Craemer ATP CFII

    Eustis, Maine

  • Bill Davidson

    I’ve been an instrument rated private pilot for 30 years. 1800 Hrs total time in a mix of aircraft.

    In the original 182 airframe, the Horton STOL kit made a TREMENDOUS improvement in low speed handling. I owned one for about 200 of those 1800 hrs, and I can assure you it was a dramatic diference.

    If youloook at the leading edge of the “newer” 182 compared to the Horton, I agree there is much less change. It would appear Cessna and Horton had the same idea about the wing.

    My time in newer 182s is very limited. As you have access to both, I would ask you to look at the handling characteristics in the flair – regardless of field length. I felt the Horton kit made a dramatic difference in the B model 182 I owned.

  • James C. Bingham

    If I am not the winner, I will be more than happy to pay the taxes, etc. and take it off the hands of the winner if they are unhappy about it not having the STOL kit.

  • H G Kissinger

    What about a flap/aileron gap seals?

  • H G Kissinger

    What about adding the flap/aileron gap seals to the 182?

  • CJ D’Antonio

    I think you didn’t heed your own good advice; “Don’t get carried away” which is percisely what you did with the IO-550 gas hog conversion.

    With reference to your January 2011 issue AOPAPILOT, First Flights article pg 85, your fuel burn, ICT to ABQ was a “Whopping” 19.4 gph turning in 162 KTAS. By the book, my ’78 182Q (@ 6000 ft, 23 degrees C and 70% power burns 12.0 gph and 140 KTAS. With a simple JPI 450 totalizer, I reduce the fuel burn to 11.3 gph. At Cutter Aviation where you fueled at $6.10 per gallon, your cost per hour between the two cessna’s is a “Whopping” $49.41 an hour more. I wonder what Skylane owner sees the utility in those numbers for 22 kTS; slight tailwind component notwithstanding.

    I sure hope I win the corssover sweepstakes, I’ll scrap that gas hog for an IO-470

  • ginny wilken

    I hope you would consider adding instead the MicroDynamics vortex generators. The expense is a tiny fraction of the STOL kit, yet the results are very similar, without the added weight and drag. They are a lovely and appropriate addition to the Skylane, adding extra lift and lower speed to the landings, and a heap of rudder authority, making it feel like a straight-tail.

    The Skylane is the model owned by Charles White, president of MicroDynamics, for years, and he said the difference when adding the VGs was nothing short of amazing, as his newer slant-tail plane was virtually transformed back to the older one he had so loved.

    Need I add that they make it a lot easier to hold the nos up on landing?

    Up here in the NW, they are de riguer for any serious plane, and would certainly be a fitting final adornment for your project plane.


  • Cark McQuillen

    You made absolutely the right call. The peterson kit is neat but this airplane simpley does not need it.
    The best feature of the package is the speed. You do not need any extra parts hanging out to add any drag.
    Like you noted this is STOL all on ot’s own. I have owned a Air Plains 182M 300HP for 1500 trouble free HRs.
    You have to be a real meathead to get in trouble with this airplane. Any trouble, throttle wide open the issue instantly
    goes away. I have all the speed fairings ,wingtips,nose gear fairing etc, its fast. Cessna should have built this airplane.
    I talked to them a couple of times and they told me they could not understand why anyone would want more power in a 182. Especially since they brought it back with the 540 they could have easily built a 160Kt airplane and saved some of those customers from jumping ship to Cirrus. Good call , great airplane.

  • Bill K.

    You could put Vortex generators on the 182. I can attest they give lots a bang for the buck :)
    Without all the work of installing a STOL

  • Dan Dewsnup

    Have you considered Microaerodynamic’s VG kit for the Cessna 182? Easier to install (company advertises “one day installation”), less weight, and potentially better crosswind and slow speed control on final without the potential disadvantages you’ve pointed out. I also own a C182 (Q model) with the IO-550 conversion, and am considering this. It would be very interesting to know your opinions also. Thanks!

    • thorne


      Sure. We couldnt install every mod we wanted to, however.


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