Online Community of Zenith Builders and Flyers
I'm David Banahan. I live in Campbellsville KY (KAAS). I have met two young men who are ferrying a 750 STOL from Charlotte, NC to somewhere in Idaho. The problem they encountered is while in flight the right door began to oscillate and disintegrated. They were able to hold on to the frame and most of the acrylic. They diverted to the nearest airport (KAAS) and landed without incident.
They are flying at about 40 lbs below gross weight. If they remove the other door what will be the flying characteristics of the airplane be like. I need your help to gain enough information for the PIC to decide if it is safe to continue with A. one door B. no doors C. or should they abandon the flight altogether?
Your thoughts appreciated,
I suggest you contact the Zenith factory for this inquiry. Roger or Sebastian are best qualified in terms of both flight experience, structural knowledge and flight characteristics in this case.
Readers, like me, would be interested in more details like air speed and relevant wind conditions that precipitated this event.
The factory may want this information as well. Certainly gives one pause. Questions may arise as to build quality as well.
If you get more details please advise, including Zenith’s response.
Thanks, good idea, I'll get the PIC to get in touch with them tomorrow. Even if Zenith sells them a door is there a repair station to do the installation at Mexico?
Another link with better hits for this problem...
Roger has a video flying the 750 w.o. doorS. Worked well.
And See This Discussion...
Of course, may not apply if doors off flight is approved.
You can call the main number at Zenith pretty early. I believe Roger gets in a 6:30 or so (CDT), and starts answering phones around then as well.
I heartily agree that I would seek the guidance of someone like Roger at Zenith. Out of curiosity, however, did the doors have any sort of latch system on the forward/leading edge of the door? Was this one of the original fiberglass doors? The bubble definitely produces lift, pulling on the door. If the leading edge bows out enough to catch the slipstream, then the positive pressure yanks the door open and the door is usually destroyed. A very simple latch to ensure the door doesn't catch air is all that's required to totally prevent this problem. This simple latch, tensioned by slipping a piece of fuel hose over the pivot bolt, has worked great for me for 6 years/550 hrs:
Again, I defer to Roger, but I would be concerned flying with one door off/open that if the plane is yawed much at all, the cabin might suddenly pressurize and blow out the opposite/closed door. It definitely would be better if the remaining door is secured on the leading edge but probably the most effective thing short of installing a new door and 2 latches would be to fly doors-off (flying both doors-off is a Zenith-approved configuration) until the broken door can be replaced.
Thanks everyone for their advice. Roger says the plane will fly just fine at full gross without doors. In 701's losing a door is a rare phenomena. Anyway the ferry pilots got picked up and flown home. The new owner is coming later this week to replace the door and fly it to Idaho. Problem solved.