Over the past few years the annual Valdez Fly-In has gone from being a popular statewide exhibition to an internet phenomena. Social media has helped spread the word of the impressive STOL (short takeoff and landing) competition and online videos have made stars out of both the pilot and aircraft participants.
The event's popularity led the Experimental Aircraft Association to host its own Valdez STOL Invitational at AirVenture, the week-long aviation exhibition held each July in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. With more than 500,000 visitors, AirVenture has brought the Valdez experience to a much greater segment of the aviation public, allowing those who can't make the journey to Alaska to view its jaw-dropping activities in person.
A new video from Indie Alaska includes not only highlights from the 2016 event, but also short interviews with several participants, most of whom return year after year. It is clear from watching that the fly-in's appeal is not just to challenge themselves and each other in the cockpit but also to spend time in the company of others who are similarly dedicated to pushing the flying envelope.