• “Everywhere we are landing on water now [in Japan] is basically a first!” – Ben Kerr

    Originally from Sydney - Australia, Ben Kerr moved to Japan almost thirty years ago, to pursue his dream of racing motorcars up to formula 3.
    After having discovered one of the deepest and lightest powder snow in the world on the northernmost island of Hokkaido in the mid 90`s, Ben started his backcountry ski and snowboard operation next to the small town of Niseko, right at the foot of the magnificent Mount Yotei (which is of course a volcano). A short hop from mainland Honshu, Hokkaido's natural beauty offers spectacular views from the air with an extreme variety of different landscapes and of course the proximity to the sea.
    Having flown general aviation a little bit in Australia, especially with his dad, Ben recently discovered bushflying at its birthplace in Alaska and went on a mission to be the very first to import, register and fly not one but two Cub Crafters Xcubs in Japan… one on 31’s AK bushwheels in 2018 and the second one on amphibious floats in 2020.
    Niseko Aviation [https://www.nisekoaviation.com/en/] was born, with its multilingual team having a passion for flying, snow skiing, cycling and promoting Hokkaido's natural beauty. As a full AOPA Japan member, Niseko Aviation goal is to grow the local general aviation community and promote backcountry and float flying in Japan also to international pilots. Since 2017, Ben and Niseko Aviation opened several airstrips in Hokkaido and have been pushing the exploration of Japanese fresh water spots all around the archipelago up to the point of being the very first to land a float plane on many rivers and lakes! … all of this in 2021!

    In this episode, Ben Kerr shares with us his love for Japan´s northernmost Island - Hokkaido, his dedication to grow the backcountry and float flying community in Japan as well as his constant search for new water spots all around the country.

    If you want to discover more content about Ben, go checkout this episode's page on our website: www.thestolcollective.com

    Music credits: “Slowly”, Amon Tobin – Supermodified, 2000

    Cover Art: Ben Kerr 

  • "All we need to pursue our dreams and make them come true is passion and determination", Lukasz Czepiela.
    A former airline mechanic, Lukasz Czepiela combines being a commercial A320 pilot with competing in World Advanced Aerobatic championships, flying displays at airshows and until recently racing for the Challenger Class of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.
    A trip to an air show with his father, at the age of six, led to a life-long passion for airplanes. Day after day Łukasz cycled to the airport to clean aircraft. As a teenager he helped push the machines out of the hangar and in return pilots took him to the air. Soon, thanks to the money earned and saved at the airport, he made his glider license and started flying himself.
    After graduating school he moved to the UK and worked as an aviation mechanic, labouring 12-14 hours a day, seven days a week in order to earn the funds for a plane acrobatics course. The team leader of the Honda Dream Team agreed to help him with acrobatic training as part of his payroll. A few years later Luke became his successor and he began racing, in 2004.
    Since 2010 Łukasz has participated in Red Bull's acrobatic training camps. During a three-year break in the championship he flew with the Polish aerobatics team, Żelazny, enjoying wins at national and international level and performing at air shows. In 2013 he made his debut at the world championship, where he placed in the middle of the stakes. It was enough to secure further special training, in which the most talented pilots of the younger generation from all over the world trained for the Challenger Cup, in which he competed in 2014, the inaugural competition.
    In the meantime, Łukasz gained a professional license and worked as a commercial pilot for the European airline, Wizz Air. He took a year out in 2015, but in 2016 he earned four podiums, including a first race win, which came at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Five more podiums followed in 2017, including one race win and that consistency resulted in his career-high third-place finish overall.
    The following year, Łukasz earned his first victory in the Challenger Class, taking first place in Budapest. A second quickly followed in Fort Worth as he narrowly beat race favourite Florian Bergér by 0.052 seconds to win the 2018 Red Bull Air Race Challenger Cup.
    Having a friend working for Cub Crafters Europe, he recently discovered the ultimate fun of Low'n Slow STOL flying after having borrowed a Carbon Cub EX 2 for a week and not wanting to give it back. Poland being a wonderful playground for backcountry ops with mountains in the south, lots of fields, big rivers and their sand bars as well the coast on the Baltic Sea up north, Lukasz is seeing himself pushing the limits of STOL  with constant new ideas like landing on a pier at the beach back in 2019.
    Living right next to the beautiful medium mountains of south Poland, Lukasz is also an avid hiker who relaxes by swimming, gliding, rock climbing, golfing, riding horses and car racing.
    In this episode, Lukasz Czepiela shares with us his fascination for aviation in general, aerobatics, air racing and his recently discovered love for backcountry and STOL flying. He also explains us the freedom and particularity of backcountry and off-airport flying in Poland.
    If you want to discover more content about Lukasz, go checkout this episode's page on our website: www.thestolcollective.com
    Music credits: “Slowly”, Amon Tobin – Supermodified, 2000
    Cover photography: Marcin Kin for Red Bull Content Pool https://www.redbullcontentpool.com/

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  • ‘’As a surfer or a snowboarder, we like to draw a line as an artist on a canvas’’ – Géraldine Fasnacht

    Born in Lausanne - Switzerland, Géraldine Fasnacht is a world known freeride snowboarder, base jumper and wingsuit pilot. She is a pioneer who constantly draws new lines in the mountains with her snowboard and her wingsuit. Based in her favorite playground, Verbier, Switzerland, she gets inspired by the mountains and explores the most remote places on earth. Be it from the depths of Antarctica to the top of the Matterhorn, Switzerland.

    In 2002 Géraldine Fasnacht won the most extreme freeride competition in the world; The Verbier Xtreme. That was when her snowboarding career took off. That same year, at the age of 21, five additional victories catapulted her to the top of the freeride world. Always ready to go beyond her limits, she took part in International Freeride Competition and the Freeride World Tour for eight years.

    Géraldine loves discovering new horizons and experiencing new sensations. Since 2005 she has been carrying out groundbreaking expeditions to conquer the most beautiful summits. She has left traces with her snowboard on incredibly steep slopes, and has performed breath-taking wingsuit flights. Her high mountain knowledge gained with freeride snowboarding since the age of 15, combined with her experiences in parachuting since 1998, Géraldine performs world premieres in base jumping and wingsuit flying. Opening some of the most beautiful summits around the globe: Switzerland, France, Baffin Island, Greenland, Iran, Mali, China and Antarctica – from mythical peaks ranging from Les Drus in Chamonix - France, Holtanna - Antarctica, to the Matterhorn in Switzerland flying alongside great eagles.

    Her life is about risk management, pushing  boundaries and team building. For about 10 years, Géraldine has given conferences worldwide, in French or in English, for individuals or companies. She shares her vision through the adventures and the experiences she has achieved. She keeps pushing the level of her passions higher perfectly managing the risks and she loves sharing her adventures through her conferences.

    For more than 11 years, Géraldine has been flying UL/LSA airplanes. Four years ago, she had the opportunity to obtain her PPL, instantly followed by a mountain rating on skis and wheels. Constantly drawing lines in the mountains, either on her snowboard or in her wingsuit, an idea started to grow bigger after fulfilling her dream of owning her own mountain UL/LSA airplane, an ICP Savannah taildragger named "Roméo". This idea, first made visible through her series of videos "LinéAire", is to go on a constant quest to find and ride new lines, combining mountain flying and snowboarding deeper than ever.

    In this episode, Géraldine shares with us her love for mountain flying and especially her constant quest to draw new lines with her beloved "Roméo" and on her snowboard, in the deep and immaculate powder snow of Swiss glaciers.

    If you want to discover more content about Géraldine, go checkout this episode's page on our website: www.thestolcollective.com

    Music credits: “Slowly”, Amon Tobin – Supermodified, 2000

    Cover photography: Raphael Surmont

  • ‘’Make your life a dream, and a dream a reality’’ – Antoine de St Exupéry
    Our dear Italian friend Fabio Guerra definitively lived up and still lives the Dream of aviation!
    Born and raised in Verona – Italy, Fabio Guerra always dreamt about flying the mighty F104 Starfighter. After joining the Accademia Aeronautica – the Italian Air force Academy and climbing up the ladder to a fighter jet office desk, he very soon had the opportunity to move to the United States of America as an exchange pilot in the US Air Force. Flying mostly T-38 White Rockets out of Reese AFB Texas and then Holloman AFB New-Mexico, Fabio decided to purchase an extremely rudimentary and light Quicksilver MX together with a young fellow American fighter pilot.  This was the discovery and birth of a new consuming passion for very slow flying airplanes.
    Coming back to Italy in the mid 80´s and transitioning to his beloved F104 Starfighter, Fabio discovered the freedom allowed to UL/LSA aircrafts which were, back then, considered as sporting equipment. He decided to acquire a single seat Aeromarine Buccaneer XA flying boat and explore his home region lakes, among them the famous Lago di Garda – Garda Lake and rivers. For almost fifteen years, Fabio flew Mach 2 during the week and under 100 kph (60 mph) during the weekend. Wanting to fly even slower and land safer on water with his flying boat, Fabio started to experiment new wing designs which finally led him to meet his now friend of more than twenty years, Pasquale Russo, the CEO of Zlin Aviation s.r.o and creator of the Zlin Savage taildragger bush plane family.
    Having left the Italian Air Force as a Lieutenant-Colonel in the beginning of the 2000´s and then started to work (fly) for the national airline company Alitalia, Fabio purchased an early Zlin Savage Classic, named EXPLORER, and discovered the endless possibilities of flying playground offered by this already very capable little taildragger. Still wanting to experiment slower and slower flight with VGs as well as new equipment such as Alaskan Bushwheels, he soon started a long cooperation together with Zlin Aviation as a test pilot. Almost ten years ago, Fabio came back to his love about float planes by being one of the first in Europe to put his Zlin Savage on floats.
    Today, Fabio is a flight captain flying B777 for Alitalia, a rescue pilot for the Protezione Civile – the civil protection with his EXPLORER, the head instructor pilot of Scuola Volo Brescia, Garda Eagle – Brescia Flight School specialized in taildraggers, float and bush flying as well as a flight examiner but most of all for him “every way of flying is beautiful!”.
    In this episode, Fabio shares with us his story about dreaming to fly the mighty F104 Starfighter and making this dream a reality to discovering the endless possibilities offered by UL/LSA airplanes both on (bush) wheels and floats to fly in Italy, especially in his home regions of Veneto and Lombardia.
    If you want to watch Fabio in action with his Zlin Savage EXPLORER on floats or test flying the new Zlin Aviation aircrafts, go to this episode's page on our website www.thestolcollective.com 
    Music credits: “Slowly”, Amon Tobin – Supermodified, 2000
    Cover photography: 

  • Arturo Polo Ena and his wife Elisa Fernández Esparza have backcountry aviation in their blood and you know how Spanish blood is!

    Arturo Polo Ena started to fly hang gliders at age 16 and very soon discovered the unlimited possibilities offered by UL/LSA in Europe. Rapidly becoming an instructor at Torremoncha de Jiloca aerodrome in Aragon - Spain, he explored most of Europe and developed a dedication to mountain flying, especially in the French Alps as well as in the Massif Central and also in the Pyrénées both in Spain and France. A PPL (EU & US)  and CPL (US) owner with taildragger and ski rating, he loves to fly his Piper Super Cub "The Green Machine" on AKBW 35's during summer in Alaska and works as an UL/LSA-3axes instructor in Spain at his school "Amilpies", focusing on taildraggers, mountain and bush flying. He is also a Zlin Aviation dealer for Spain.
    Arturo is an extremely talented photographer, having published in many international aviation magazines. He shares his love for aerial photography and more on his website https://chasingalaska.smugmug.com/ and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/arturopoloena/?hl=de

    Elisa Fernández Esparza is a lawyer and attorney in Spain. Coming from Teruel - Aragon, she met Arturo while hang gliding and they both share the same love for backcountry aviation. A UL/LSA pilot since 2002 then an instructor in 2004, she also owns a PPL (EU & USA) with taildragger and float rating. She teaches during the winter time in Spain at her local Aerodromo municipal S/N Torremocha del Jiloca and works as well as a Lawyer and attorney, specialised in international law and aeronautical advice for several companies. During the summer season, she lives in Alaska enjoying the bush flying and wilderness of the Wrangell St Elias National Park.
    Elisa is also a strong advocate to aviation safety enhancement and support initiatives that benefit pilots and make grow the aviation community. She writes articles for major aviation magazines together with Arturo's pictures.

    In this episode, Arturo and Elisa share their story about how they fell in love with backcountry aviation and especially after discovering the Zlin Savage UL/LSA more than 15 years ago, leading them to create the first and only bush flying flight-school in Europe. They also explain us their deep fascination for Alaska, having pushed them to spend every spring and summer in the Wrangells for the past eleven years.

    If you want to learn to fly taildraggers with Arturo or Elisa and even better, attend the best and only bush flying training in Europe, go to: https://www.amilpies.com/en/

    This episode´s book tip is: Wager with the Wind: The Don Sheldon Story, by James M. Greiner, 1974 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/119375.Wager_with_the_Wind

    Because I love skateboarding and because Spanish skateboarders are one of my favourite since I started to skate, check out all three Episodes about Jesus Fernandez from Freeskatemag: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BX7ywQtWMw
    And if you want to watch one of his best video part ever (IMO), just search for “Jesus Fernandez – Pretty Sweet” on Youtube or even better, just buy the video!

    Music credits: “Slowly”, Amon Tobin – Supermodified, 2000

    Cover photography: Arturo Polo Ena

  • Marius Jumolea is from Cluj-Napoca - Romania and although having been raised in an aviation family, he only found his own passion for aviation and especially bush flying at the age of 25.

    Since then, Marius developed an avid need to fly and perfect his backcountry skills. This dedication pushed him to be one the few European owners of a Cub Crafters Carbon Cub EX2 back in late 2016. First pushing the limits on his own bush plane and exploring his amazing birth country, his passion saw him sharing a seat next to Philipp Sturm in his PT6 on his way from Switzerland to Alaska back in 2019. After spending two years in the birth country of bush flying, Marius came back to Romania with countless lessons learned and his passion still burning.

    Today an UL/LSA and LAPL flight instructor, Marius shares with us his personal story about backcountry flying in Romania then Alaska, his thoughts about flying safely in the backcountry as well as carrying the appropriate safety gear but most of all, the joy of meeting awesome people around the world, sharing the same passion.

    This episode´s book tip is: Notes from the Cockpit: A Mountain Pilot´s Perspective, by Richard K. Williams, Dominique Etchevrry - 2015 - ISBN 1507665385, 9781507665381

    If you want to watch a video of Marius backcountry flying in his Carbon Cub in Romania: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQQvY3_yM38

    Music credits: “Slowly”, Amon Tobin – Supermodified, 2000

    Cover photography: Bogdan Pop

  • In today´s episode, It is our pleasure to welcome Sam Rutherford from the UK and Belgium.

    For those who may not know about him, his flying career started at age 13 and pushed him to be commissioned officer at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1991. Born a pilot, Sam qualified as an Army helicopter pilot and left the British Army as a Flight Commander after eight years of service. Later, he became an FAA/EASA commercial helicopter and airplane pilot. He logged more than 3500+ hours Total time, delivering aircrafts worldwide since 2008 as a ferry pilot and organizing Air Trophies and Air Rallies.
    But Sam is more than a pilot. At ease in all societies and cultures, he is proven ability to work in international environments using more than five languages. Managing Director of Prepare2go, he led multiple trips with groups of light aircrafts (Cape Town and return five times, Trans-Atlantic 15 times, Libya, Algeria, Turkey, North Pole, Niger, Russia etc. etc.). More recently, he created and ran the first ever beach STOL competition in Belgium: the “Zoute Air Trophy” as well as the first “Greenland Air Trophy” where two teams, Europe and North-America, meet in south Greenland for a STOL competition. He also created and ran the first ever event “Vintage Air Rally”, 22 teams from 17 countries – traversing Africa with vintage biplanes from Crete to Cape Town.
    A certified Rescue Diver, Alpine Ski Instructor, Royal Yachting Association Skipper and also Chairman of the Royal Geographical Society “Vehicle Dependent Expeditions” Panel; Sam Rutherford is for sure different! The kind of person making the impossible, possible.

    If you want to learn more about Sam´s projects like the coming Greenland Air Trophy 2021 and VintageAirRally Crete2Cape 2022, need a ferry pilot, a film crew, organize a team event in a wilderness area, or more simply put, move people and equipment in, out and through difficult places.
    Go to https://www.prepare2go.com/

    This episode´s book tip is: Flying the Knife Edge: New Guinea Bush Pilot, Matt McLaughlin - 2016 - ISBN 988140360X, 9789881403605

    Music credits: “Slowly”, Amon Tobin – Supermodified, 2000

    Cover photography: Thibault De Schepper - https://tibods.com/

  • This is the second part of our episode five of TSC together with René Petersen from Greenland.
    We further discuss about wild animals, René´s wish on rebuilding the only Super Cub in Greenland, safety chutes on bush planes, the use of slats both automatic (Super STOL) or pilot controlled (Zlin NORDEN), his plan on getting skis for his plane, finally the infamous bolter questionnaire.

    If you want to watch René flying his Super STOL in Greenland, checkout his Instagram account - https://www.instagram.com/rep.air/
    Talking about the automatic slats on Just Aircraft´s Super STOL, you will find very interesting videos showing them in action on René´s Instagram.
    Zlin´s new NORDEN and especially it´s electrical slats can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGwBuaXinvg&t=145s

    If you want to checkout the engine I am talking about, you can find some information on this publication: https://www.flyer.co.uk/scalewings-reveals-secret-hybrid-with-multiple-redundancy/ ... unfortunately, no news has since been released on the development of this very interesting project.

    Music credits: "Slowly", Amon Tobin - Supermodified, 2000

  • René Petersen was born and raised in Greenland´s capital Nuuk. He has now been working for thirty years as a helicopter mechanic and logged almost three thousand hours on the left seat of different helicopters mostly in Greenland. He is also a private pilot for many years but most of all, he is the only owner of a bush plane (an experimental registered Just Aircraft Super STOL) in Greenland and one of the only two guys flying private GA in the entire country... which is the considered to be the biggest island in the world!

    As you will discover, Greenland is really a true Last Frontier deeply connected to both European and North American continents.
    René explains us how he came to aviation, what it means to fly his Super STOL in one of the most remote country on the planet (mostly alone) but  also simply living up north, dealing with the weather and the wild animals. 

    If you want to watch René flying his Super STOL in Greenland, checkout his Instagram account - https://www.instagram.com/rep.air/

    Music credits: "Slowly", Amon Tobin - Supermodified, 2000

  • In today´s episode, we welcome two friends from Scandinavia: Jan Hafsås from Norway and Lars Najbjerg from Denmark.
    Lars has flown so many airplanes underneath the sun and also in very nasty polar weather. He is a former Royal Danish Airforce fighter pilot having flown the mighty “taildragger” Saab F35 Draken and also the F16 Viper. He is a skydiver, a commercial pilot and he won the 2013 Nordic Aerobatic Championship on the experimental aerobatic plane he built himself. Lars discovered bush flying a few years ago and turned his interested towards the Zlin Savage Cub. Probably because you just put it on like the Viper!
    Jan grew up watching his father building and flying RC planes then later flying with him after he got an old Rans aircraft. Although having spent a lot of free time at the local airfield during his childhood, Jan finally started his pilot’s license 4 years ago and bought his Zlin Savage Classic during the middle of his training. Being an outdoor enthusiast, he very quickly discovered the amazing possibilities of the Norwegian backcountry and has been flying quite a lot since then both on bush wheels and skis.
    Together they explain us how they came to aviation, what it means to fly their backcountry UL/LSAs in Scandinavia and we even talk about Greenland as the last (European) Frontier for bush flying.
    If you want to learn more about Lars, checkout his "Bushflyers - Aviation School" page on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/bushflyers
    Music credits: "Slowly", Amon Tobin - Supermodified, 2000

  • Craig Lang, the owner of Flying Frontiers, has had a passion for flying for as long as he can remember, and has been involved in various forms of aviation for many years, holding both a Commercial Pilot's License and a Grade B Instructor’s rating. Based in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands, Flying Frontiers is a small company passionate about Bushflying and Classic aircraft. Craig has been one of the very first to import a Zlin Savage Bobber in South-Africa and is the first one who started to offer off-airport bush flying safaris in South-Africa up to Namibia.
    In this episode of TSC, we discover Craig´s aviation path, the particularities of real bush/off-airport flying in South-Africa and Namibia as well as what it takes for us, European UL/LSA pilots, to be able to fly PIC on Craig´s beautiful birds. 
    You can check-out Craig´s website here:  http://flyingfrontiers.com/ ... and watch the video I released about my (short) bush flying trip in South Africa in 2018: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fB9j7GeRGo 
    Music credits: "Slowly", Amon Tobin - Supermodified, 2000

  • Thomas Tom Huber grew up in the ideal postcard picture you could have of south Bavaria. He was exposed to aviation at a young age thanks to his grand-father who was a pilot during WWII. Finally getting his PPL license during the 90´s while working at a lodge in British Columbia - Canada, he fully discovered the possibilities of UL/LSA type aircrafts while supporting rally races in north Africa at the beginning of 2000.
    If you have already been around the AERO fair in Friedrichshafen, you definitively noticed the most creative booth of the show!
    Apart from being Zlin Aviation German dealer for the past 15 years, Tom is a legend in the German/Austrian UL/LSA STOL community. Very probably for being the one who started it!
    Sharing the same passion for the North and especially Alaska with his wife Hilde; who is also a very talented bush pilot by the way! Tom works and spends his time  with his family on their own private dreamland airfield in the south of Munich - Germany.
    Joining us for the second episode of The STOL Collective, live recorded on the airfield, Tom shares his journey through backcountry aviation in Europe and beyond.
    Strap in, take off from your gravel bar, don’t fly straight and level but always in safety!
    Music credits: "Slowly", Amon Tobin - Supermodified, 2000

  • Roland Primus is a legend in the European and international snowboard industry. But he is also a true aviation enthusiast since a very young age, having explored so many types of flying and airplanes. An award-winning aerobatic pilot, he discovered thanks to a very good friend the ease of use of Ultra Light / LSA bush planes and the awesome possibilities they offer to fly deep in the mountains and land and the most prestigious glacier of the European Alps. Joining us in The STOL Collective, he shares his journey through aviation and into the wonderful world of mountain flying with the professionalism of a multiple snowboard world champion trainer and founder of the oldest snowboard school in Europe.
    Music Credit: “Slowly” Amon Tobin - Supermodified 2000