STOL is an initialism for "short take-off and landing", a term used to describe aircraft with very short runway requirements.

The formal NATO definition (since 1964) is:

:"Short Take-Off and Landing (décollage et atterrissage courts) is the ability of an aircraft to clear a 15 m (50 ft) obstacle within 450 m (1,500 ft) of commencing take-off or, in landing, to stop within 450 m (1,500 ft) after passing over a 15 m obstacle." [cite web | url= | format= PDF | work= United States Department of Defense | title= Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms (JP 1-02) | accessdate= 2007-11-13]

Many fixed-wing STOL aircraft are bush planes, though some, like the de Havilland Dash-7, are designed for use on prepared airstrips; likewise, many STOL aircraft are taildraggers, though there are exceptions like the de Havilland Twin Otter, the Cessna 208, and the Peterson 260SE. Autogyros also have STOL capability, needing a short ground roll to get airborne, but capable of a near-zero ground roll when landing.

Runway length requirement is a function of the square of the minimum flying speed (stall speed), and most design effort is spent on reducing this number. For takeoff, large power/weight ratios and low drag help the plane to accelerate for flight. The landing run is minimized by strong brakes, low landing speed, thrust reversers or spoilers (less common). Overall STOL performance is set by the length of runway needed to land or take off, whichever is longer.

Of equal importance to short ground run is the ability to clear obstacles, such as trees, on both take off and landing. For takeoff, large power/weight ratios and low drag result in a high rate of climb required to clear obstacles. For landing, high drag allows the aeroplane to descend steeply to the runway without building excess speed resulting in a longer ground run. Drag is increased by use of flaps (devices on the wings) and by a forward slip (causing the aeroplane to fly somewhat sideways though the air to increase drag).

Normally, a STOL aircraft will have a large wing for its weight. These wings often use aerodynamic devices like flaps, slots, slats, and vortex generators. Typically, designing an aircraft for excellent STOL performance reduces maximum speed, but does not reduce payload lifting ability. The payload is critical, because many small, isolated communities rely on STOL aircraft as their only transportation link to the outside world for passengers or cargo; examples include many communities in the Canadian north and Alaska.

Most STOL aircraft can land either on- or off-airport. Typical off-airport landing areas include snow or ice (using skis), fields or gravel riverbanks (often using special fat, low-pressure tundra tires), and water (using floats): these areas are often extremely short and obstructed by tall trees or hills. Wheel skis and amphibious floats combine wheels with skis or floats, allowing the choice of landing on snow/water or a prepared runway. A STOLport is an airport designed with STOL operations in mind, normally having a short single runway. These are not common but can be found, for example, at London City Airport in England.

List of some STOL aircraft

*American Champion/Bellanca Scout
*American Champion/Bellanca/Champion Citabria/Decathlon
*Antonov An-2
*Aviat Husky
*Cessna 180
*Cessna 208
*De Havilland DHA-3 Drover
*De Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver
*De Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou
*De Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo
*De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter
*De Havilland Canada Dash 7
*Dornier Do 228
*Fieseler Fi 156
*GAF Nomad
*Helio Courier
*IAI Arava
*Maule Air
*Pilatus PC-6
*Piper Cub
*Piper PA-20 Pacer family
*PZL-104 Wilga
*Quest Kodiak
*Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer
*Sukhoi Su-80
*Westland Lysander
*Wren 460 and Peterson 260SE
*Zenith STOL CH701
*Zenith STOL CH 801


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