Sebastien Heintz's Blog (141)

Part 3: Installing the "Upgrade Package" to our Zodiac CH 601 XL: Drilling out the top inboard main wing spar

In our third installment, we drill now drill out the conventional bucked rivets of the top inboard main wing spar, starting where we left off with the top rear skin removed and the top of the nose skin opened:

Remember, I am posting this info to show you how we installed the Upgrade Package to our Zodiac CH 601 XL. This is not a set of instructions or a teaching aid. I only recommend that you attempt drilling out the solid rivets if you… Continue

Added by Sebastien Heintz on November 12, 2009 at 8:00pm — 9 Comments

Part 2: Installing the "Upgrade Package" to our Zodiac CH 601 XL: Drilling our the top wing skin rivets

In part two of this installment, we drill out the Avex blind rivets in the top wing skins. (Click here for the first post in this series on updating our Zodiac XL demonstrator per AMD's Safety Alert / Directive).

See the video clip at the bottom of this post for a good view of how we drilled out the blind rivets.

Removal of the wings and drilling… Continue

Added by Sebastien Heintz on November 11, 2009 at 9:30pm — 3 Comments

Installing the "Upgrade Package" to our Zodiac CH 601 XL

Since the FAA's Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB) and AMD's Safety Alert / Directive were issued on Saturday, November 7, 2009, we've begun the job of updating our Zodiac XL demonstrator per Zenair Upgrade drawings. As the kit factory, we want to have this done as soon as possible while also… Continue

Added by Sebastien Heintz on November 11, 2009 at 10:30am — 16 Comments

PilotMag article: Tribute to Zenith homebuilders

PilotMag, a new glossy aviation magazine that bills itself as "The Magazine for Adventure Flying" has a nice story on Zenith builders in its current issue (September/October 2009). The article, by aviation writer Jim Cavanagh, features some well-known Zenith flyers, including Steve Smith of Santa Rosa, California,… Continue

Added by Sebastien Heintz on September 24, 2009 at 8:00pm — 2 Comments

Visit with Tom Poberezny of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA)

September 2, 2009 - Mexico, Missouri

Today we had a nice visit with Tom Poberezny, the chairman and president of EAA. I gave Tom a tour of the factory, and showed him the new STOL CH 701 and the factory demonstrator Zodiac XL on this beautiful September day.

Over lunch, Tom provided an update on EAA's continuing efforts in promoting sport… Continue

Added by Sebastien Heintz on September 2, 2009 at 5:00pm — 2 Comments

EAA "Hints for Homebuilders" Video Clips

The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) website publishes "Hints for Homebuilders" video clips, with some useful how-to building information and introductory info on tools, etc.

Though some of these videos are a little too Sonex-centric (they're neighbors with EAA headquarters in Oshkosh) a lot of the information also applies to building a Zenith:

Here's a sample:…


Added by Sebastien Heintz on August 22, 2009 at 9:00am — 2 Comments

Testing larger "bushwheel" tires on the STOL CH 750

Those of you who have visited the Zenith factory lately have noticed the larger bald tires on our STOL CH 750 demonstrator. We've been testing these "off airport" tires this past month and are quite pleased with the results.

These affordable (non aviation) ATV tires are smooth and treadless (21x12-8) measuring about 21-inches tall. Mounted on an 8-inch Matco wheel, these larger tires raise the height… Continue

Added by Sebastien Heintz on July 1, 2009 at 8:30pm — 3 Comments

Zenith "Spring into Summer" Open Hangar: Saturday, June 27, 2009

This Saturday is our second "Spring into Summer" Builder Fly-In Gathering and Open Hangar Day.

As opposed to our annual fall Open Hangar Day with scheduled workshops and forums, this June event is very informal and unstructured.

Join us for breakfast on Saturday morning:

Early Saturday morning, Glenn and Anita Riley are hosting their annual "Fly-In / Drive-In Breakfast… Continue

Added by Sebastien Heintz on June 22, 2009 at 10:19am — 4 Comments

Videos: Open Hangar Day / Builder Fly-In Gathering

Here are a few video clips from last year's Zenith Aircraft Open Hangar Day. This year's spring event is on June 27, 2009, and the fall 18th annual Zenith Aircraft Open Hangar Day is September 19, 2009.

Video clip from the fall 2008 Open Hangar Day: Inside the Zenith Aircraft factory. Additional activities included workshops and forums, as… Continue

Added by Sebastien Heintz on June 20, 2009 at 7:00am — No Comments

Simple Control Locks

For those of us who tie down our aircraft outdoors and in the wind (whether continuously or just during an occasional cross country trip), it's important to lock the control surfaces so they don't "flap" unnecessarily in the wind. At the Sebring Expo earlier this year, Juan's Zodiac was fitted with these effective control stops:

Above, two tennis balls are joined by a bungee rope, and keep the ailerons from flapping.

Since this was a… Continue

Added by Sebastien Heintz on May 12, 2009 at 8:30pm — 7 Comments

Zenith Aircraft Company introduces the Zenith Flyer!!!

The following is excerpted from the Zenith website:

April 1, 2009, Mexico, Missouri:

Today, Zenith Aircraft Company announced the launch of a brand new product line for the kit aircraft manufacturing company. The flagship model in the bicycle line is the sleek Zenith Flyer.

This bicycle is completely new, designed… Continue

Added by Sebastien Heintz on April 1, 2009 at 12:30am — 12 Comments

Another Fun Factory Workshop

We "graduated" another class of proud new aircraft rudder builders today:

Despite the apparent slowdown in the economy, this group was proof positive that there's still optimism out there and that folks still want to have fun building airplanes. The full workshop (12+ rudder tail assemblies of both STOL and Zodiac designs) included six husband / wife teams, plus four father / son teams, and was a lot of fun (even for the organizers). The… Continue

Added by Sebastien Heintz on March 27, 2009 at 2:37pm — 2 Comments

"Don't Fly Real Fast"

An Australian builder sent the weblink to the following online article published by Recreational Aviation Australia: "Don't Fly Real Fast."

Using plain English and writing about "sport pilot" class airplanes and pilots, the writer explains the perils of overspeeding your light aircraft.

This article is just one in a series of online articles titled "Decreasing… Continue

Added by Sebastien Heintz on March 25, 2009 at 11:38am — 4 Comments

STOL CH 801 Amphibian in the Bahamas

Jeff Fortune sent us these great photos of his amphibious STOL CH 801 in the Abaco Islands (the Bahamas).

Jeff reports: "The plane is flying great. Quickest liftoff from salt water is about 12 seconds... lands at ~38… Continue

Added by Sebastien Heintz on March 5, 2009 at 5:04pm — No Comments

Installing Micro Vortex Generators (VG) on the STOL CH 701 Elevator

Over the past year we have been testing micro vortex generators (VG's) on the bottom of the STOL elevator. We've been using them on our factory demo planes and have sent out samples to experienced STOL pilots, including CH 701 owner and pilot Bob Jones (of Alaska).

We manufactured our own micro vortex generators out of .020 6061-T6 aluminum in our hydraulic press to match the curvature of the… Continue

Added by Sebastien Heintz on March 2, 2009 at 5:30pm — 20 Comments

Perfect day to calibrate airspeed

Today was a perfect day to perform flight tests for airspeed calibration of the STOL CH 750 (for ASTM F-2245-05 compliance):

With Roger flying the STOL CH 750, I tracked his speeds with a handheld radar (just like the police use in speed traps). The unit is actually a "stationary Dopplar radar" with a "conical microwave antenna."

With no… Continue

Added by Sebastien Heintz on February 12, 2009 at 5:39pm — 1 Comment

New Builder Completions = Inspiration

Our customers (and fellow builders) are often a great source of inspiration. Today I picked up the latest issue of EAA's Sport Pilot magazine (February 2009) which features two new Zodiac completions on page 47.

The top photo is of Don Honabach's Zodiac project. Don states: "There is no way I can describe what if feels like to fly something that you've built. It is simply amazing! The plane…


Added by Sebastien Heintz on February 4, 2009 at 10:00am — 3 Comments


One of the advantages of a STOL airplane is the ability to explore the countryside and to land at non-traditional airfields (a.k.a. farm fields and country roads). Weekend trips usually include overnight stays, usually in a pup-tent.

At the Sebring Sport Aircraft Expo, Bjorn Spelter of Germany demonstrated his new tent on the STOL CH 701:

This lightweight tent uses no tent poles at all...

And… Continue

Added by Sebastien Heintz on January 27, 2009 at 5:30pm — 15 Comments

A Copy or Not a Copy:

I laughed out loud when I saw this photo! It clearly states that it's a "Zenair STOL CH-701" on the side, and even shows the Zenith logo on a tail that is obviously not a Zenith tail... Does anyone know what the fuselage and tail sections are? (the wing profile does indeed look like that of the STOL CH 701)...

Usually a pretty obvious copy will call itself an "original design,"… Continue

Added by Sebastien Heintz on January 8, 2009 at 6:00pm — 3 Comments

Flying with my iPhone - Part 2 (InstaMapper)

I went flying in the STOL CH 750 yesterday (to test a new Sensenich wood prop) and used InstaMapper to track my position online in real time. That means that anyone (with access to my free InstaMapper account) can view my position in real time from the internet: Neat!

To start "broadcasting" my position, all I do is start "GPS Tracker" on my iPhone, as shown above. (GPS Tracker is the… Continue

Added by Sebastien Heintz on January 1, 2009 at 11:39am — 1 Comment

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