“Time to spare? Go by air!” is a familiar humor line, speaking to weather uncertainties, mechanical delays, or relaxed cruise speeds that can slow or stall a cross-country flight in our fun, recreational aircraft. One man created his own special way to log some flight hours getting to Oshkosh. Evidently this adventurous pilot never heard another popular line: “The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” (Don’t anyone challenge me with Great Circle routes; this is about a long flight but not a globe-spanning one.) While pilots around the nation are in various stages of preparation for the flight to EAA’s big summer celebration of flight, our aerial explorer is already en route. He’s about halfway as this is posted. Ambitious Journey I’ve had the pleasure to fly into Oshkosh a number of times. I’ve also several times flown with pilots making their first entry. Ask anyone who’s done it; joining the arrival pattern to Oshkosh on the busy days right before it opens is an experience no one forgets.
Zenith Aircraft Co.
Phone: (573) 581-9000Mexico, MO 65265 - USA
Happy Birthday, Zenith!Not a twentysomething anymore, Zenith has developed into a market leader as a business enterprise as well as in the production of their kits. One of the many signs that the light aviation industry has grown up is the growing age of some companies. This year Zenith Aircraft, the operation in Mexico, Missouri, celebrates its 30th anniversary. Something to be proud of, the company will pull out the stops for this year's Homecoming. What's that? If you are not (yet) among the Zenith faithful, you may not know about "Homecoming." Allow me to give a brief description below. You can see lots of images on the company's social media accounts (links at end).
How Does Zenith Succeed? — Becoming the market leader in a field full of passionate, talented people is no easy feat. How do Sebastien, Roger, and team do it? I'm sure I don't know all their tricks but here's a few ways I've seem them use to build their lead. Why are such things important?When you buy an airplane kit, the relationship is not unlike marriage. You will need to interact with this company and their staff and this needs to work well. Even more so for a kit than a fully-built aircraft, you want to have faith in the company's team. The designs of Zenith are well proven, created years ago by Dad Chris, so the quality comes in the kit production and the assembly directions, plus knowledgeable tech support. If these three elements — design, quality, support — are expertly provided, your airplane should turn out well and your enjoyment of building process will be greater. Listen to the Customer — All the good companies I know in this arena are good listeners. The best companies not only listen but act on commonly heard points by changing the design, the fabrication techniques, or the instruction set. I've often asked builders what they thought of these aspects of their aircraft purchase. Zenith always earns great reviews. Use Social Media Effectively — Marketing is not a strong point for most companies in the light aircraft business. They may have a great airplane that you could like, but you may never hear of it. That's a shame when they have good products. Zenith does not share this problem. The company is active in various mediums (magazines, websites like this one, video, airshows, seminars) but they pay great attention to social media. This is a proven method of reaching pilots who might enjoy your aircraft. Host Workshops at the Factory and at Airshows — Not only did Zenith have a great blast of publicity when a CH-750 was the subject aircraft for EAA's One-Week Wonder (video about building an entire kit during a single airshow), the central USA company also hosts regular events at their base in Mexico Memorial Airport. At their company plus at certain airshows, Zenith offers "our hands-on kit workshops, held about once a month," Sebastien noted. If you want to improve your technique and learn the tricks experts use to make the process go well, workshops are quite intimate and can focus on your needs. Zenith's top weekend is surely their well-attended September Homecoming & Fly-In, "which has become a relatively big event," Sebastien observed. This Homecoming will celebrate Zenith's 30th anniversary. Earlier Homecomings have attracted crowds and lots of airplanes. Everyone loves the STOL competition. They have workshops or tours for those considering their first kit. Vendors answer questions. And, of course, pilots eat well throughout the weekend and enjoy mixing with their fellow Zenith enthusiasts. Offer a Broad Line of Proven Models — In end all that stuff above, while important, even vital, is not what gets pilots excited. Ultimately for kit-builders it is either the craftsmanship involved with assembling your own airplane or flying the result, or both. If an airplane doesn't interest a pilot, it doesn't matter how well the company performs. Fortunately for Sebastien and team, they are rich in airplane models to offer. Designer Chris Heintz was active and prolific over a long career and his boys sell the best of his designs today. Get more from Zenith directly by clicking on their right column banner or using this link for Zenith Aircraft, which will take you to a page with all our Zenith articles and video. Zenith is active on social media: Here's their Facebook page and their YouTube channel. An interview with Sebastien regarding Zenith's Super Duty model appears below. Zenith produces affordable aircraft (while understanding that everyone's definition of "affordable" is different from everyone else). Airframe prices start at $17,500 (STOL CH-701 model) and go to $32,300 (STOL Ch-750 Super Duty model). Engine, paint, avionics, and interior will more than double this amount — the engine alone may do that — but several builders have told me they got in the air for $55-70,000. I don't know about you but I judge that affordable. Zenith's present line-up (May 2022) includes the following:
- Zenith CH 650 (details for all airplanes is found on their home page)
- STOL CH 701
- STOL CH 750
- Zenith CH750 Cruzer
- STOL CH 750 Super Duty
* What we can track are aircraft registrations, not deliveries. Aircraft take time to complete and some are not finished. However, what Zenith delivers and how many aircraft get registered will become very close over time, missing only those aircraft that never get N-numbers.
** "Sport Pilot kits" are kit-built aircraft that can be flown by a pilot exercising the privileges of the Sport Pilot certificate (even if the pilot may do so with a Private certificate or higher). To differentiate, Sport Pilot kit refers to a 51%-rule kit, where an Experimental LSA (ELSA) "kit" does not require 51% assembly by the owner. Within Tableau Public, ELSA are separated from 51%-rule kits and are counted with factory-built SLSA.
For years, one company has led the fleet of light aircraft. Regular readers of this website already know who it is: Zenith Aircraft. The company may be at the back of the alphabet but they are first in deliveries*. This particular year, however, the company based in Mexico, Missouri celebrates its 30th anniversary. Beginning in 1992, Sebastien Heintz has paired popular designs with hard work to build his company to occupy the number one slot as seen in our Tableau Public page. In fact, the race to the number one spot is not particularly close. Sebastien is joined in the effort by longtime associate Roger Dubbert, a modest number of employees, and a large and growing flock of very happy customers. In the light aircraft space, including both LSA and Sport Pilot kits**, it’s a fairly even contest between fully-built aircraft (around half of which are imported) and kit-built aircraft.
Designing for STOLBy now, many readers may know the name Steve Henry, who has wowed crowds with his 300 horsepower Yamaha conversion engine on his highly modified Just Highlander. All these aircraft take off in surprisingly short spaces (50 feet is possible) but Steve's purpose-built aircraft fairly leaps off the ground. It almost looks unreal. Unfortunately Steve broke an axle and ended up on his nose in Wednesdays gusty conditions. Damage was reasonably minor — an advantage of landing so slowly perhaps — and he should be back in action soon. His is not the only aircraft designed specifically to win STOL comps. Viking Aircraft Engine owner Jan Eggenfellner has competed in some of these events in his Zenith Super Duty, three seater (two forward, one aft) with large tundra tires. His flat back with red accent airplane is powered by a 195 horsepower variant of his Viking line. He swings a giant 96-inch prop custom built for him by Duc Propellers. Yet, Jan's Monster STOL is very different from most STOL competitor aircraft in very distinctive way. It's a nose wheel airplane. That's extremely rare (although this CubCrafters nosewheeler exists). Why? The answer explains the project seen in nearby photos. For an already STOL aircraft like the Super Duty, getting an extra edge may take unusual steps. In order to get enough angle of attack to lift off in incredibly short distance by big horsepower, Jan wanted to angle the nose up further. He became limited by the tail of the airplane which nearly touches the ground on aggressive takeoffs. Monster STOL solves that problem, Jan believes. His dual aft shocks on each side have 18 inches of stroke. The tires aren't tundra but they're large. And standing Super Duty up on specialized landing gear — which also helps entry into this high-off-the-ground airplane — allows Jan to create a very steep angle of attack. "I already get off the surface in 44 feet," said Jan in a video interview you'll see later. He wants to do even better and to further shorten his landings. The super beefy gear arrangement will let him plop the aircraft on the ground in the shortest possible distance. "It's fun and a little whacky," said Sebastien Heintz of Zenith Aircraft while agreeing Monster STOL is a great draw at his Sun 'n Fun booth space. While I took photos people were constantly examining this unusual entry.
Come to Paradise!If you are at Sun 'n Fun, make your way to Paradise City and the LSA Mall each evening. You can enjoy very close up and exciting flying as pilots like Jan Eggenfellner and Steve Henry compete. For those that cannot attend, I saw lots of potential YouTube videos being recorded. Stay tuned! News from Sun 'n Fun 2022 continues…
At Sun ‘n Fun, as with AirVenture Oshkosh, recent years have created a new attraction using the Lightplane airstrip at both the nation’s two largest airshows. STOL — Short Takeoff and Landing — competitions have become a huge crowd draw. On pleasant evenings, crowds can be five deep all along the runway fence. STOL comps provide exciting close-up action. At few other airports can you observe so closely, literally 100 feet away from runway centerline. After the main afternoon airshow aerobatic acts conclude, you can do one of two things. You can go to the car park and wait in long lines to get out of the lot or you can make your way to the Ultralight Area / Lightplane Area / or Paradise City and catch the evening STOL comps. When they’re done competing, the car parks are moving better and you’ll waste less time sitting in line. STOL comps were planned every evening of Sun ‘n Fun but 20 mile per hour winds blowing 90° cross to the runway over a nearby line of tress was a bit much for many competitors.
Five Months In Combined ReportThe first chart reflects both LSA and SP kit registrations through May of 2019 and also depicts the equivalent performances for the full years of 2017 and 2018. What the chart suggests is that 2019 is a solid year with the light sector on track to hit 725 aircraft for the year, up about 5% over last year and up more than 10% over 2017. For space reasons the chart only shows ranks 1–18 but all are available on Tableau Public. Digging deeper, the chart shows that longtime market leader Zenith/Zenair lead by a substantial margin in 2017 and 2018 but that gap may be narrowing for 2019. Please keep in mind that a kit company completes a sale long before the aircraft gets registered and appears on FAA's database. Also, a kit sold may never be finished. Conversely, Icon's 27 registrations this year are for ready-to-fly aircraft although that does not mean they were registered by the end customer. The leading LSA builder so far in 2019, Icon is on pace to register 65 aircraft this year, up 38% over last year. American Legend, which operates both in the RTF and kit business, is ticking upwards. They may hit 29 registrations, up 140% over last year. Arion is another both-ways manufacturer looking to have a much improved 2019 while newcomer Vashon should double last year's registrations. Strong SP kit suppliers include Kitfox, Vans, and Rans — no real surprises but here's a couple observations. Kitfox is on a pace to hit 70 registrations this year, up about 80% over 2018. Van's Aircraft is headed to 60, up 50% over last year. Rans will remain about even. Remember, we only count aircraft that can be flown by a Sport Pilot or a higher-certificated pilot with no medical. Van's, for example, sells many more kits but most won't meet that criteria.
Separating LSA from SP KitsFlight Design continues its recovery, on pace to increase from last year's low number by 50%. Now that we can separate CubCrafters RTFs from kits, the CT maker is back atop the all-years SLSA rank list. Number two producer, Czech Sport Aircraft should be about even from 2018 but is well off their 2017 registrations. Powrachute and AutoGyro slipped from stronger performances in recent years. On the downside, Glasair suspended production for their Merlin that never found reception in the market. Looking at cumulative registrations, Zenith/Zenair clearly holds the top spot among Sport Pilot kit aircraft sellers. Rans, Sonex, and Kitfox are the next big producers in the light kit space, followed by Quad City and Just Aircraft, trailed a bit further back by Searey maker Progressive Aerodyne, CubCrafters, and Quicksilver.
One More Thing: ELSA FactorYou might see that kits appear to be the larger enterprise over fully-built LSA. That's correct, but consider the kit companies have been building their business and networks for far longer and they have lower price points …although you obviously must invest a good many hours to complete a project and some will get discouraged along the way and never finish the job. Yet the real surprise comes when you look at our final chart of this article. Kits appear ascendant since 2013, especially when compared to Special LSA that seems to have found a stable registration rate of around 200 aircraft per year. However, when you combine SLSA with Experimental LSA, you can see that all LSA types number closer to 300 units per year, compared to all SP kits at just shy of 400. Specialty registrations like Experimental Exhibition are steady but at a far smaller unit count. Any ELSA must be shipped from the factory as a bolt-for-bolt copy of the SLSA model, as required under the regulation. No producer can sell an ELSA without first getting approved for a SLSA, so to my mind, combining SLSA and ELSA makes for a fairer comparison to Sport Pilot kit aircraft. If you love these numbers, please visit Tableau Public. You can learn a lot more about the vibrant light aircraft sector. Enjoy! Disclaimer: These reports rely on FAA’s registration database. We believe this to be a reliable resource but it presents data that are different than what any company reports in sales or deliveries. Over time, these two sets of data draw closer but will not precisely mirror one another. Data presented on Tableau Public are arranged according to a defined method explained on that page (see button labeled “Where the numbers come from”).
A funny thing happened on our way to quarterly reporting of LSA and Sport Pilot kit market shares. Our first quarterly report in many years should have come about April 1st. It did not. That date came as Sun ‘n Fun was getting underway separated by only one day from the German Aero show. So involved were we in those season-starting events that we just blew past the date. Five Months In Combined Report The first chart reflects both LSA and SP kit registrations through May of 2019 and also depicts the equivalent performances for the full years of 2017 and 2018. What the chart suggests is that 2019 is a solid year with the light sector on track to hit 725 aircraft for the year, up about 5% over last year and up more than 10% over 2017. For space reasons the chart only shows ranks 1–18 but all are available on Tableau Public.
2018 Results Keep Adding UpYesterday's Day One post related several conpanies giving satisfactory results for their sales this year. Perhaps encouraged by a buoyant economy, pilots are choosing new LSA but in parallel more importers and manufacturers are helping to move used LSA. The fleet has grown enough to generate a good supply of low-time, desirable Light-Sport Aircraft. Any representing looking to sell new machines can boost their enterprise by also facilitating the sale of used aircraft. In either new or used transactions, pilots win as they can acquire aircraft that interest them. It's all good and 2018 is proving to be a respectable year. Seamax is another company pleased with their U.S. developments. We interviewed lead designer and business owner Miguel Rosario to find his lightest-of-the-LSA-seaplane-fleet Seamax is developing their business on the campus of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. With care and long experience, Miguel has built an active enterprise that has supplied more than 150 aircraft around the globe with about 10% flying in the USA. That number is sure to grow with the Brazilian company's American operation, an excellent price point among LSA seaplanes, and sprightly performance SuperPetrel reports delivery of eight units in the last year after establishing their U.S. base. Global sales over many years are now approaching serial number 400 according to representatives from the Ormond Beach, Florida enterprise of Brazilian investors associated with Scoda Aeronautica. This seaplane maker is also growing its installed base in America for this long-established design that was thoroughly updated when Scoda (formerly Edra) Aeronautica took over Super Petrel. An FAA audit proved the quality of their work as they earned SLSA credentials. Inside the tent, we did an interview with Sensenich president Don Rowell. The very popular maker of wood, metal, and composite props reported strong business that is challenging the company to keep propellers in stock. To address the demand, Sensenich is expanding and bringing new CNC equipment. We will be visiting the factory just before Sun 'n Fun 2019 to give viewers a tour of their new facility and equipment. As with yesterday's report, this is not an exhaustive review of each exhibiting company. Yet the sum of reports from company after company reinforces the view that 2018 qualifyies as a solid year. I see the happy smiles of new pilot owners on the field.
At a reception ending Day Two, DeLand Showcase Director Jana Filip reported that front gate receipts were greater on Thursday than either Thursday of the two prior years of the Showcase. Then she announced Friday’s gate was greater than the two previous Fridays. DeLand Showcase 2018 is the third running of the event. Showers rolled in threatening Showcase’s perfect weather record although the rain didn’t start until exhibitors and sponsors had gathered in the main show center tent. Under shelter, live music was presented by the Flying Musicians Association, lead by professional music man, Gary Filip. A catered dinner fed the group and as the evening concluded, the rain died off as if on cue. A couple tents were damaged by strong winds including one in the Dreams Come True booth of Steve and Debbie Minnich and an EAA Chapter food tent. No airplane damage was reported.
Very Light to Very HeavyTalk about your short takeoff… I just witnessed the successful launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch, a test flight aiming to transport a Tesla Roadster to Mars. Because I live near Daytona Beach, Florida, I often get to observe rocket launches live. Sheesh! These two accomplishments could hardly be further apart and I don't mean geographically. The space geek in me is always drawn outside to my back yard to get a wonderful view of a launch. I've been privileged to see many, including all the final Space Shuttle launches. With my neighbors who live on the 12th fairway of the golf course at Spruce Creek Fly In, we stood on a pleasantly warm day to see this ground-breaking launch. While we could not see the return of all three rockets, they landed successfully, two on terra firma and one on SpaceX's barge at sea. Because we are about 50 miles away, the sound of these (count 'em) 27 rocket motors traveled to Daytona in about four minutes. The rumbling from those huge motors throbbed on and on, longer than any launch I can remember. The winds need to be rather calm for the sound to travel this far and today we got lucky. Cool! Go private space companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin, and others. I'm a NASA fan, too, but I want to see these private enterprises take the baton and race outward to the planets …and it's happening. I just hope that Tesla can find a parking spot when it gets to Mars orbit. https://youtu.be/RSc__x0rO9k https://youtu.be/Tk338VXcb24
Sebastien Heintz of Zenith Aircraft in Mexico, Missouri is one of the more vigorous promoters in light aviation. He and his 25-year-old company are all over social media and advertise in big magazines. This week his news came from about as far away as possible, from way down under in New Zealand. “A Zenith STOL, expertly piloted by Deane Philip, was the winner of the New Zealand Bush Pilot Championships in Omaka, New Zealand, on Saturday, February 3, 2017,” reported Sebastien. Deane won with a take-off distance of just 12.6 meters (41.3 feet) and a landing roll of 14.7 meters (48.2 feet). See the video below. By any measure, that is very, very short. “Another Zenith STOL aircraft, piloted by Chris Anderson, took second place,” bragged Sebastien. In third place was a Rans S6 for third place in the Sport Pilot (under 1,325 pound) category. Deane’s STOL CH 701 is powered by a 130-horsepower Viking engine.
Zenith has found a very ripe market with lots of buyers of their kit-only CH-701 or CH-750 models that some refer to as a "Sky Jeep." These are STOL models with short takeoff and landing. Plenty of people love it but prefer a higher cruise speed for cross country travel. Therefore, welcome to Cruzer. It dispenses with the slotted wings and fat tires. Wheelpanted and using only a single wing strut with a cleaner wing, Cruzer, well ... cruises. However, it keeps a very short takeoff and landing and retains the easy flying qualities of the Sky Jeep.
Zenith has found a very ripe market with lots of buyers of their kit-only CH-701 or CH-750 models that some refer to as a “Sky Jeep.” These are STOL models with short takeoff and landing. Plenty of people love it but prefer a higher cruise speed for cross country travel. Therefore, welcome to Cruzer. It dispenses with the slotted wings and fat tires. Wheelpanted and using only a single wing strut with a cleaner wing, Cruzer, well … cruises. However, it keeps a very short takeoff and landing and retains the easy flying qualities of the Sky Jeep.
At AirVenture 2014, EAA hosted Zenith Aircraft in a major project in which 2,500 people gave some assistance to a central team that built an entire CH-750 from shipping container to FAA sign-off and test fly during the seven days of the show in Oshkosh. At the end Jeff Skiles (crew member of the famous airliner landing on the Hudson River) test flew the airplane. Here's a view of the furious effort to get the job done quickly and well.
At AirVenture 2014, EAA hosted Zenith Aircraft in a major project in which 2,500 people gave some assistance to a central team that built an entire CH-750 from shipping container to FAA sign-off and test fly during the seven days of the show in Oshkosh. At the end Jeff Skiles (crew member of the famous airliner landing on the Hudson River) test flew the airplane. Here’s a view of the furious effort to get the job done quickly and well.
When you think a company has wrung all it could from a design, think again and then once more. First came the CH-701 STOL, which acquired the nickname "Sky Jeep" for its great off-runway capabilities and short take off. Zenith improved that with the CH-750 that featured a wider cockpit among other changes. At Sun 'n Fun 2013 Zenith unveiled the Cruzer, a non-STOL version of the same airplane now offering faster cruising. We spoke with expert factory pilot Roger Dubbert about the newest variation on this successful theme.
When you think a company has wrung all it could from a design, think again and then once more. First came the CH-701 STOL, which acquired the nickname “Sky Jeep” for its great off-runway capabilities and short take off. Zenith improved that with the CH-750 that featured a wider cockpit among other changes. At Sun ‘n Fun 2013 Zenith unveiled the Cruzer, a non-STOL version of the same airplane now offering faster cruising. We spoke with expert factory pilot Roger Dubbert about the newest variation on this successful theme.
Zenith Aircraft CH-650 is the follow-on to the popular CH-601 with hundreds flying. Company pilot Roger Dubbert tells us about some of the differences between the predecessor and the '650 and he answers our questions on your behalf regarding flight controls, comfort, baggage and more. Come hear the details for this "sedan" of the line complementing the "Sky Jeep" CH-750.
Zenith Aircraft CH-650 is the follow-on to the popular CH-601 with hundreds flying. Company pilot Roger Dubbert tells us about some of the differences between the predecessor and the ‘650 and he answers our questions on your behalf regarding flight controls, comfort, baggage and more. Come hear the details for this “sedan” of the line complementing the “Sky Jeep” CH-750.
We talked with Roger Dubbert about the whole line of Zenith aircraft, including the CH-701 STOL in kit form, the larger CH-750 in SLSA or kit, and the low wing CH-650. But we also looked at the UL engine that the Zenith folks fitted to their CH-650 design. See more about the engine HERE but listento Roger describe how Zenith regards this new entry.
We talked with Roger Dubbert about the whole line of Zenith aircraft, including the CH-701 STOL in kit form, the larger CH-750 in SLSA or kit, and the low wing CH-650. But we also looked at the UL engine that the Zenith folks fitted to their CH-650 design. See more about the engine HERE but listento Roger describe how Zenith regards this new entry.
Some have called this design the Jeep of the sky and one flight demonstration will tell you why. An examination shows the leading edge slats and an overall design intended for the shortest possible takeoff and landing (called STOL) and the second generation STOL CH 750 can provide that capability all day long. A well established design from a longtime supplier, about a kit a day leaves Mexico, Missouri including the company's low wing Zodiac CH 650 design.
Some have called this design the Jeep of the sky and one flight demonstration will tell you why. An examination shows the leading edge slats and an overall design intended for the shortest possible takeoff and landing (called STOL) and the second generation STOL CH 750 can provide that capability all day long. A well established design from a longtime supplier, about a kit a day leaves Mexico, Missouri including the company’s low wing Zodiac CH 650 design.
You may not be thinking about it now while the snow swirls and piles up in mountainous white drifts, but in a few months, Canada will again be a very scenic place to fly. May an American LSA owner do so? While a growing number of countries around the world have been steadily embracing use of ASTM standards — as are used to gain FAA acceptance in the U.S. — Canada has resisted the trend. America’s neighbor to the North has another category called Advanced Ultra-Light Aeroplane (AULA) that is very similar to LSA and has worked for Transport Canada for years. Canadian authorities have subtly changed the game and relaxed the cost of flying your Yankee LSA north of the border. According to writer Patrick Gilligan, “An exemption by Transport Canada (TC) makes it more affordable and less onerous for Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) from the United States to be flown into Canada.” Gilligan continued to explain (original COPA article) saying that American LSA owners simply have to download and complete a Standardized Validation form (available here).
Even very familiar companies like Zenith Aircraft company, part of a family light aviation empire including Zenair in Canada•, has to prepare well when FAA comes to visit. Specifically, this would be the agency’s KET or Kit Evaluation Team. When various representatives of the regulatory agency visit they use a multi-page list to assure that a kit aircraft meets the requirement that 51% of the kit is built by the owner. Formerly called Experimental Amateur Built (or EAB), many aviators simply say the “51% rule.” In earlier times, kit aircraft were scratch built — meaning a builder secured raw materials that had to be formed and finished while referring to drawings, a potentially very lengthy process. To ease the effort and increase sales, an industry developed to sell component kits. These have become increasingly sophisticated with qualities such as match-hole construction using CNC machines. Making it easier for a builder to assemble his or her aircraft is good, but the kit manufacturer must be able to clearly demonstrate how the owner will do 51% of the work, as required.
Zenith and Zenair are closely-linked enterprises with different leaders in different countries. In recent years, the three Heintz brothers took different responsibilities for the business founded by dad, Chris Heintz. An aeronautical engineer, Chris founded Zenair Ltd., in Canada in 1974 and parleyed his design pedigree into a flock of airplanes that have sold by the thousand all over the world. Today, Matt, Sebastien, and Michael run the multifaceted firm. Through 2015, the combined effort of Zenith and Zenair sought to produce light plane models called 750 STOL, 750 Cruzer, and 650B Zodiac plus four seat kits called CH 801/8000, a sport-utility plane, and the four-seat CH 640 plus a type-certified four seater called CH 2000. That fleet recently got a bit larger when Zenith / Zenair bought the assets from the Canadian developer of Sam LS. “Sam Aircraft assets have been acquired by the … owners and operators of Zenith Aircraft Company (U.S.) and Zenair Ltd.
Your choices in the affordable aircraft range of options are composed of one of three segments that this website tracks closely: Light-Sport Aircraft (SLSA or ELSA), light kit-built aircraft, or Part 103 ultralights. In the first one, you can spend some real money with a few aircraft breaching the $200,000 barrier. Some handsome, well-equipped, high-performing aircraft are offered in that range, to be sure, but they may not fit your budget. Not all SLSA are not so expensive; some excellent candidates list for $40,000 to $125,000. If a Part 103 aircraft may suit your flying needs, you have a more choices that will get you aloft for a literal fraction of the high-end models. Alternatively, you can build your own airplane. If you choose the homebuilder route, your range of choices becomes even larger, in fact, almost infinite in that you can personalize an aircraft any way you wish and keep changing it as you like.
Engine suppliers must love Zenith Aircraft, perhaps as much as their many airframe owners. For 23 years, the kit company based in Mexico, Missouri has supplied about 200 kits per year to buyers all over the country and around the world. That is a selling performance any light airplane company would like to boast. One reason for their success is their support of a variety of engines, no small feat considering each engines has special qualities to be considered when installing and using them. Good for Zenith for going the extra mile. One of the many engines they support is the Viking Aircraft Engine from Edgewater, Florida on the Atlantic side of the Sunshine State. Zenith also supports engines from Rotax, Jabiru, UL Power, and Continental. See the video below covering the short field takeoff and landing competition on a pretty, sunny day at the Mexico airport.
Last weekend Zenith Aircraft held another of their open house events. At the Midwest LSA Expo a few weeks beforehand I asked factory pilot guru, Roger Dubbert how many people the company expected. His answer: a rather amazing “700.” According to Zenith president Sebastien Heintz it was indeed another strong event, one they’ve repeated every year since setting up shop in Mexico, Missouri. “By all accounts and measurements, the 23rd annual Hangar Day was an incredible winner,” summarized Sebastien. Among the highlights of the two-day festivities was the arrival of EAA’s two Zenith aircraft. One was an EAA staff-built version of the CH 750 Cruzer (watch for our video pilot report to be posted soon) and the second was the One Week Wonder CH 750 that was completed during AirVenture with participation from over 2,500 people. As Arion Aircraft‘s Nick Otterback put it, “Since this month seems to offer many open houses I wanted to share ours.
Summer’s big show is over and most aviation business folks are back home having that love/hate affair with email that piled up while we worked the event. On whole, the success story is strong. Airplanes sold, crowds were good, accidents were few, and the weather was not smoking hot like it has been in years past (though brief rain showers kept folks dashing for cover on occasion). EAA says attendance was up from last year, that the numbers of airplanes was higher, and that campgrounds reached capacity by midweek. EAA’s special 10th Anniversary of Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft Exhibit drew well all week with 17 aircraft representing all sectors within the SP/LSA space. Visitors could hardly miss the wonderfully central space AirVenture planners offered for this one-year display. With the front corners presenting a bright green Van’s RV-12 plus the freshly debuted MVP seaplane attendees were practically compelled to wander the space and see all the flying machines.
Rotax BRP is offering a new warranty extension program but it plans more. The Austrian supplier of some 80% of the powerplants used in Light-Sport Aircraft and light kit aircraft is also building a flight school locator for training operations that use their engine. Consumers have some locator services now — in fact, our own FIRM List offers resources — but most (including ours) are USA-centric. As a supplier of engines around the world, Rotax will build a locator service for the entire globe. For many that struggle to find a flight school using Light-Sport Aircraft, this should be most welcome. More on that as it develops R.E.S.T. stands for Rotax Extended Service Terms. The company introduced two new warranty extension programs for its consumers scheduled to start in November 2013. “The R.E.S.T. program provides a warranty extension for all new Rotax 4-stroke aircraft engines,” Rotax said.