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The April 2019 issue of AgAir Update, the monthly magazine for the agricultural aviation (crop spraying) industry, reprinted a flight evaluation article of the STOL CH 701 "Sky Jeep" light sport aircraft (first published twenty years ago!). Famed ag pilot and publisher of AgAir Update magazine Bill Lavender flew the CH701 (with Zenith demo pilot Roger Dubbert) to evaluate the aircraft as a light crop sprayer:
"Our takeoff roll was absolutely unbelievable. The only two other aircraft that I can think of that possibly could take off shorter would be a helicopter or Wayne Handley’s Turbo Raven. With a high nose pitch (remember the reverse-lift elevators?), the CH701 literally climbed out with two adults and full fuel at 1,000 feet per minute with about 100 feet of ground roll, breaking ground approaching 30 knots indicated airspeed!
"I believe almost any area that resembled a grass strip or any paved airstrip would easily accommodate the CH701-AG in its working configuration. I flew the CH701 over the treetops, as if I was going to a field to spray. Outside of the airport’s traffic pattern I spotted a corn field. After an overflight to check for wires and other obstacles, I proceeded to make typical application runs. This got my demo pilot’s attention; his first “crop dusting”!
"With its slotted leading edges and clear sunroof, the CH701 makes for a good turning “ag plane”. It’s not really an ag plane, per se. But, it sure has a place in an ag operation. I suppose one could depend on it entirely for ag work, with consideration of its limitations for handling large acreage; that is unless you owned a fleet of CH701-AGs!
"I really liked the CH701. I wish I had the extra money to buy one and the extra time to build one, just to have around for general use. The CH701, by far, would be affordable to own and operate. Actually, the aircraft would fit where many ag av operations are now using aircraft like J-3 Cubs, Citabrias, C-150 Heavy (joke) and Super Cubs.
"Flying over the corn at 100 mph, making 30-second or less safe turns, an exceptional climb rate and short takeoff and landing capability, deems the CH701-AG a viable aircraft for many spraying operations."
(Bill Lavender, AirAir Update evaluation flight, April 2019 issue, pages B16-B18.)
Read the full article (AgAir Update,
Below: The four-seat utility STOL CH 801 spray planes. The larger STOL CH 801 is a robust, utility kit aircraft with a useful load of 1,000+ pounds! It is not just another pretty plane, yet like the lighter STOL CH 701, it was developed to provide maximum short-field performance while remaining easy to assemble and maintain; the CH 801 is optimized for getting in and out of short fields at full loads.
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