This may be long, so please bear with me....

Ok, so I will get this out of the way quickly and be completely honest.  I do not currently own a Zenair.  I lied a little bit to get on here.  But please let me explain.  I am actively looking to purchase an already built Zodiac 650B, which is located about 2500 km from my home.  I used the actual aircrafts information to sign up.  I have been doing a TON of reading and thinking, and talking to all kinds of people (Michael Heinz included) over the last couple months and I figured that this would be the best place to get some real world, quality advice.

So please forgive me, and please don't ban me.

Being relatively new to the industry, especially the purchase/owner side of it, I have realized that EVERYONE has an opinion.  And to make things harder, they are all different.  Some people swear by homebuilts, others wouldn't touch them.  I guess what I am struggling with is whether this is the right purchase for me.  A little background, and a bit of info on my mission.

Let me first say that I loved this plane.  Although I haven't seen this specific one yet, I did fly a 601HD.  Didn't like the power rigging/setup but I liked the plane itself.  I was ready to buy it.  Even arranged a pre purchase inspection at an AME near the seller.  Then I had some thinking to do.

So here's the deal.  I'm 31, mature and just finishing up my PPL with about 130 hrs TT.  My main mission is to buy an airplane to fly recreationally, enjoy some decent XC trips and have fun.  I wouldn't normally take more than one passenger so I figured a 2 seat airplane would be all I need.  If I want to take more, I can rent a 172 from my flying club where I learned, I have a great relationship with them.  My second goal, and it's a close second, is to continue my training.  I want to do my night rating as quickly as possible, and eventually work up to my CPL, and possibly get an instrument rating.

My first dilemma was when I discovered that my CFI will not do instruction on a homebuilt airplane.  Unless of course he built it.  He doesn't feel comfortable, and a number of other CFI's have told me the same thing regarding their schools instructors.  I would have to find a freelance instructor.  So, I actually did find a guy who would be willing to do it.  That being said, there are portions of the CPL flight test which I may not be able to take in the 650.  Spins for one, and instrument portion as well.  Which brings me to my next point.

The plane is not currently equipped for instrument flight.  The current owner did a great job with the avionics and really spared little expense.  It has dual 7" Dynon SkyView screens, back up battery, GPS (not certified), and all the engine monitoring.  I believe I am aware of what I would need to equip it for IFR, but having talked to various people, I have been given a lot of advice.  As I said, everyone has a different opinion.  Most say it is not worth equipping it for IFR.  And some of the same people say they would NEVER fly into IMC in a Zodiac or similar airplane regardless of the equipment installed.  And they stressed the word NEVER!!  Now, don't get me wrong, I have no interest, or intention to fly into IMC without a properly equipped airplane and not without the proper training.  And even then, I would still be conscious of the weather.  I'm not interested if flying in bad storms.  But my idea is that if I wanted to go on an XC trip and the weather was decent but the ceilings were low either at my point of departure, destination, or even the whole trip, I could still go.  Having literally NO IFR experience it is tough for me to understand exactly why it wouldn't be advisable to take an airplane like this in IMC even if it was properly equipped and if I was properly trained?  I assume rough and turbulent conditions and icing?

People are encouraging me to buy an older certified airplane, maybe a 172, or a Warrior.  I am even looking at a Mooney on a condition with the insurance company for a boat load of dual time to start.

I love this airplane and I think it suits my primary mission very well.  I guess I am just worried it could restrict me down the road for things I might want to do which I could do in a certified plane.  Although I also don't know how often I will be want to or need to fly in IMC even if I did have the training so I don't even know if it would be an issue for me.

I know a certified plane will cost more in maintenance (which comes with piece of mind I guess).  But I also feel like I get much more bang for my buck with a Zodiac, although the resale value may not be there, I won't have to pour as much money into it throughout it's life.

With this being my very first airplane, I really don't want to make a mistake and get something I end up regretting.  That's why I want to do as much research as I can so I can make a truly informed decision.  Clearly this forum is for Zenair enthusiasts, so I may be getting some bias advice.  Please try to take that into account and try to be as honest as you can :)

Also, what kind of actual cruising speeds can I expect?  Will it do 119KT TAS as the website suggests, or is that a pipe dream.  And if so, is it only in smooth air and kind of dangerous if hitting unexpected turbulence?

This is a link to the ad.  I would also love some opinions on the asking price and equipment.  Or anything else in general.  I happy to listen to anyone who will talk to me.  Quite the daunting process this whole "buying an airplane for the first time" thing.

Thank you so much to anyone who takes the time to read and reply.


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Airspeeds are generally overrated, You might see these numbers; you might not. $72,000 seems a little high to me for a homebuilt 650.

Are you in Canada? If not, you need to consider the complications involved in importing the aircraft to the U.S


I am in Canada.  So the complications for the reverse would apply to me if I purchase a homebuilt (LSA does not exist in Canada) from the US.  This is actually the only one I have found in Canada for sale right now.

Given the exchange rate, it works out to 54 000 USD, which seems to be on the high end of the ones I have seen for sale on barnstormers.  BUT, this one appears to be newer, less time, and much more options than any of them.  It seemed a tad high to me, but not excessively.  And seeing as I know that I don't know much, that is why I'm asking.

Thanks for the reply.

I think you are more likely to see cruise of 120MPH (193KPH) than 120KT.  I've only been in two Zodiacs, both with Conti engines and 120MPH was about it for them.  There are faster planes and slower ones with similar engines.  

The issue with any plane as light as a Zodiac in IFR is that it isn't vary stable - as in it takes vary little control input of move the plane around.  In IFR you want just the opposite, you want a truck not a sports car.  For punching through fog for an early morning takeoff, I can't imagine it making much difference, but hard IFR is a different beast.  Disclaimer here, I'm not IFR rated. 

For the price listed I'd expect two axis auto pilot, dual radios,  high end interior, stunning paint, wheel pants and ADSB IN/OUT (which I know is a bit different in Canada than the US) and a heated pitot tube and IFR legal lighting.  The Dynon should be a redundant system, not just dual screens but also dual GPS, dual backup batteries and dual ADHRS.  If all this is in the plane then the price is only high, not completely out of line.  If you are planning IFR, the redundancy is probably required by regulation.

Unless the rules are drastically different in Canada, I think you will find the cost of ownership for an EAB a whole lot less than any of the planes your friends are suggesting.  I'm thinking annuals, maintenance (if you can do it yourself) and parts, everything from spark plugs to sunshades to inner tubes.

Let us know what you decide.


Not mentioned so far is equipment required to fly IFR legally. Here in US, an most likely Canada too, my understanding is that a plane need to have certified engine and certified instrumentation (Dynon is not certified) in order to legally fly IFR. Make sure you're fully clear on the legal side before going any further.

I'm pretty sure the engine does not need to be certified to legally fly IFR in US.


I am not familiar with the 601 but as much of your post is about equipping and flying IFR , that I can talk to.

Equipping and sustaining any aircraft for IFR flight, and personally gaining, and maintaining proficiency in flying IFR, is a serious committment in time and expense, and in any typically equipped light plane, one should always depart with the expectation that you may not be able to maintain your desired schedule on an IFR trip. If you are willing and able financially (and from a family and job perspective) to accept this, then by all means pursue the IFR path. You will learn much and filing and flying a cross country trip is actually easier than VFR in my experience. That said, I recommend you build time in your VFR aircraft and rent to gain your IFR rating, right seat with someone on as many IFR flights as you can, gain that comfort that comes with experience and knowledge, then decide. 

Hi Kevin

i am a Canadian 801 driver. suggest your IFR equipment be back up only. for accidental flight from VFR into IMC conditions.

Bad weather Imc can be rough anywhere. work on your hours to get more experience VFR and night VFR. get some simulator training as a start it will give you rough IFR conditions with out anyone getting hurt.

The reason I have a four place is for equipment fishing gear. most of the time there are two of us.Remember on a hot day with full fuel four passengers high altitude is a poor combination. My airport is 4000 ft near by it quickly goes to 120000 ft that combined with extended range tanks of 60 gallons US and the capability to carry four adults means the plane can be easily overloaded on a hot day or night. Suggest you also get a mountain ratting.  About the add like the transponder etc. however i run two radios.Hope this helps all the best Harley

Good advice Harley.  Kevin may no longer be able to post; he has not responded in nearly a month. My take is, accidental flight into IMC is a real emergency, and one that is often fatal. For a typical GA pilot, once you've earned your IFR rating, that's all you should fly,with few exceptions- every flight, whether you are in IMC conditions or not. Filing an IFR flight plan while flying at night in VMC conditions is a good confidence and experience builder.  A pilot with a recent IFR ticket but little actual IMC experience, or no recent experience flying in the soup, navigating, and talking to ATC is a recipe for a statistic. 

Yep. And I was very nearly one of those statistics. I thought thought I could get my ifr rating just so I could occasionally get thru a marine layer that is common where I live. I thought that I wouldn't really need to be that proficient to be able to do that. I thought wrong and very nearly died on what I thought would be a short ifr solo flight shortly after getting my rating.

Your either "all in"and fully committed to flying ifr and remaining proficient - or you're s statistic waiting to happen.

I got lucky, but must don't when they get in over their heads in IFR conditions. You just die - and wreck a perfectly good airplane on the process.
Thank you very much to all that replied. I sort of can't post anymore. It seems my IP address might be blocked. I can't even access the website from my computer or my phone when it is connected to my WiFi at home. As soon as I use the cell network I am able to access. Maybe my someone didn't like my white lie... funny thing is my account still works. The Web page just won't open from home.

After doing more research and getting more opinions about IFR I seem to be arriving at the same conclusion. Which is just as the previous few posts suggest. If I am not fully committed and staying current it is a risky thing to do. I may still decide to get the rating for the shear learning aspect of it but may not end up doing a lot with it. I thank those that have given advice. Especially the ones about the IFR. these last few posts have been incredibly valuable for me.

I believe that I have found an airplane to share with 2 others on my field. A certified one. An Arrow 2. Easier to get instructio on and do night and IFR and CPL should I choose to go that far. So I probably won't be frequenting this site for now. One day maybe I will decide to build a 650 from scratch. I still think it's such a cool plane.


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