Red Bull/XDubai Pull Off Super-Short Landing On Hotel-Top Helipad


Short takeoff and landing (STOL) bush plane videos are fun to watch, and it’s always entertaining to see the talent of the pilots and admire the performance of their increasingly specialized aircraft. Red Bull and extreme sports promotor XDubai upped the ante today (March 14) by landing a highly modified CubCrafters Carbon Cub on a 78-foot-diameter helipad atop the 56-story Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. After the cheering and high-fives died down, Polish pilot Luke Czepiela then poured on the power and took off from the tiny space, diving to gain airspeed and punctuating the pullout with a chandelle in front of a cheering crowd. Extensive video of the full event can be seen here.

The accomplishment was two years in the making, and involved extensive modifications of the aircraft by Mike Patey, described by CubCrafters as a “renowned bush pilot, aviation engineer, and YouTube personality,” as well as the owner of his own Carbon Cub. Patey described the development process: “It was a pretty simple formula. We cut weight, changed the [center of gravity] to increase the effectiveness of the brakes, and added extra horsepower.” Patey added, “I’m really proud of how the airplane performed. The Carbon Cub was a great choice to start with, and we made it even better for this event.”

Patrick Horgan, CubCrafters’ president and CEO, said, “Red Bull has done many projects over the years that have inspired aviators worldwide, so we were honored to join them on this project to demonstrate the incredible capabilities of the kinds of aircraft our company designs and manufactures.” Brad Damm, CubCrafters vice president, added, “This project, two years in the planning and execution, really pushes the limits of what a best-of-class STOL aircraft, and an extremely capable and dedicated pilot, can achieve.”

Meanwhile, the one with most to lose, pilot Czepiela, said, “During the training and preparation, I developed full confidence in the aircraft and its unique capabilities that enabled me to successfully accomplish this mission.”

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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    • Apparently their target was 7 knots of wind, and that’s about what they had. I gather from some of the discussion in the video that I watched that one of the challenges was swirling winds around the tower, so they didn’t want more than that.

  1. Considering what bush pilots do, as well as the STOL competitions, I fail to understand all the fuss about this event. Maybe it’s the advertising/sponsoring power of RB.
    Added value to aviation in general…zip.

    • It done for the general public that consumes Red Bull beverages. They are impressed by their antics.

  2. What helps general aviation is good press. This is that. Other side of the coin is people dying in airshows, Junkers crashing, folks walking into props and the usual horror show of aviation reporting designed to get clicks.