I watch STOL pilot champs Zenith CH701 here.

The engine power are: 130 HP, 80 HP, 120 HP and 100HP, respectively. Amazing. As per my observation, the third airplane takes off in a distance shorter than its length. It uses an 120 HP engine. I tried to search over the net how long the required runway is to make it take off. Unfortunately, I could not find it. But I believe that should be longer than its length.

What are the technical requirement to make an airplane able to STOL?

  • $\begingroup$ Thrust, lift and light weight. $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2018 at 15:21

3 Answers 3


There are a number of factors that can contribute to short take off landing (STOL) ability.

The Zenith page has some information: http://www.zenithair.com/stolch801/design/design.html

Wing Shape

A more "cupped" wing shape generates more lift at a slower speed, enabling a shorter take off. This sacrifices the aircraft's top speed. Note that this limitation can be mitigated by making the wing shape changeable with slats and flaps.

There are other modifications that can be made to a wing shape to favor STOL characteristics. For example, there are a variety of STOL kits that can be added to existing aircraft. These range from wing tips to other airfoil shape changes.

Wind Speed

By taking off into a higher speed wind, the takeoff distance is decreased. With a strong enough headwind (and a skilled pilot), a STOL aircraft and appear to take off vertically with little or no runway needed.

Power to Weight Ratio

The more powerful the engine is compared to the weight of the overall aircraft, the less runway is required to achieve takeoff speed.

  • $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer - I agree that the wording is off... Will update. $\endgroup$
    – RQDQ
    Dec 12, 2018 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ Might want to add wing loading -- combine low wing loading with high lift devices and you can take off slower, hence shorter. $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Dec 12, 2018 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ Also drag. High drag will slow acceleration and increase take-off run (although in most cases high drag is a by-product of high lift, which reduces take-off run) $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2018 at 15:32
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you @RQDQ for the nice explanation. $\endgroup$ Dec 13, 2018 at 1:53

Those STOL (not VTOL) planes have wings with high-lift devices as large flaps and slats, that greatly increase the lift coefficient, thus allowing the plane to take off with relatively little airspeed. Besides, in the video, the takeoff runs are greatly favored by a stiff headwind...

  • $\begingroup$ Yes my friend, apologize for the error. I have corrected it to STOL. Another comment I have to read several time to make me really understand. $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2018 at 14:48
  • $\begingroup$ I found some interesting things here: large flaps and slats, that greatly increase the lift coefficient, thus allowing the plane to take off with relatively little airspeed, and stiff headwind. I have to study them so I can comment further as they are quite new for me. $\endgroup$ Dec 13, 2018 at 1:13

The planes had high-lift wings - nice thick wing, and with flaperons at the trailing edge to make the wing seem wider (front to back) to create more lift. Lightly loaded, just single passenger, and it also was quite a windy day, so they weren't depending on just engine horsepower to create airspeed over the wing - witness the 4th landing, where the plane was blown sideways and then backwards and the tail blown up in the air and up on its nose.

And of course practice.

  • $\begingroup$ Any plane, under any wind conditions, depends exclusively on engine power in order to generate airspeed. $\endgroup$
    – xxavier
    Dec 12, 2018 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ Seems, pilot skill was more contributing in that champ. He can take off and landing very short. Another factor are important, but in this case, as there was another higher horse power where the design are same, so the more contributing thing is the pilot skill. $\endgroup$ Dec 13, 2018 at 1:56

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