Don't Blame the Putter for your crappy golf game.

To date I have 605 hours in my Zenith CH 601 XL with a Jabiru 3300 engine.  I have over 300 landings and take-offs.  I have been to larger international airports from Orlando Intl and Miami, to grass strips in the middle of nowhere.  I have put the plane through its paces, flying as high as 14,000 ft with oxygen to 300 feet over the coast of Florida. Hot temps, cold temps. Smooth flights on every trip, (for the exception of flying in a hurricane, but that's another story) with the 601 XL trimmed for hands-off flying most of the time. 

I also have time in pretty much every single engine airplane under 200-hp, from Piper Cherokee, C-150s, Varga Kachina, to Piper Cubs and Tiger Moth.  I have also had the privilege of flying four different 601XLs, all by different builders, helped to build two different CH601s, all different engines, O-200, O-235, Jabiru 3300, and Rotax.  

I hear and am recently reading all kinds of reports of the CH 601, that  someone has built,  the plane is not flying well,  or it does one thing and does not  do something or another,  less performance or worse than some production aircraft, basically implying that the design is sub-par and if it was bought at Sams Club and had the receipt,  they would want their money back.

After 9 years in the same plane, and 605 hrs in type and 1300 hrs total time in VFR single engine like kind, I can say with confidence that the 601 XL design is a great design AND, if built  correctly, will fly great, with good flight characteristics, AND that sub-par flight characteristics can be directly attributed to either a sub-par build, inexperienced builder, and/or over-loading with equipment enough for a space shuttle (you know who you guys are) and/or, it must be said, shi#ty piloting skills.

I have been in tail-heavy planes,  with the builder saying  he built it that way "so it would trim better?" (no joke!) to planes that pulled constantly left, which I suggested was the plane's P factor or sub-par wing build. One guy actually told me he built in twist into a wing, not off of the provided plans "because it did not look right to him in the design".  One pilot (you know who you are) took out the designed twist in the engine mount, that was there to counter the P factor, because he said it did not look right and felt that the design was wrong. No math behind his decision, just "had a gut feel"  Nice...

So I will compare the flight characteristics of the 601 XL, what other aircraft I have flown:

  1. If built according to plans and the CG is per specs,  the plans flies with two finger stick input, and little effort to keep trimmed.
  2. At take off (provided the above) the plane requires little bit of right foot to counter prop torque.
  3. After take off, the plane needs to be centered back on the ball,  YES you actually have to use your feet.
  4. Coordinated turns are best with hand movement and pressure on the stick and foot pressure on rudder at the same time, just like most smaller aircraft (there is those pesky feet again!!)
  5. Trim for best climb and cruise,  and every now and then, swap the tanks.
  6. This is a plane you fly,  it does not fly itself.  More guiding the plane than flying it.
  7. 90knots in the pattern, flaps at base, 60 knots over the field and flair and hold.
  8. My bungee has 8 years and still has 8 to go,  because you land on the mains, not the nose wheel. Front wheel is held off ground all the way down the runway, until it brings itself down.
Practice it, it works.


  1. Bulid the plane to plans, customize if you desire, modify if you have the skills, but at least don't get crazy.  It's a plane,  Not a go cart.
  2. If you bounced at landing, and or landed nose first, you and not the plane did it wrong and need you to practice.  Plain and simple.
  3. If you are chasing the trim or strong arming the plane during flight,  learn by repetition to trim and fly.  Remember, engine is for altitude, trim is for speed. Don't chase the speed. 

If you keep getting these two things happening,  stand in front of the mirror,  and repeat after me "It is the Pilot flying the plane, and not the plane flying the pilot,  If I built it to specs then I need to practice and quit blaming it on the design"

You all have built and been lucky enough to have the luxury to build your own plane!! Enjoy it!! BUT remember it is NOT a go cart. Build it right.

The 601 XL flies superbly in most conditions!  If you are rusty, then flight lessons in another type are important.  IF THERE ARE FLIGHT CHARACTERISTICS IN YOUR AIRCRAFT YOU DON'T LIKE AND YOU BUILT IT,  GROUND YOURSELF UNTIL YOU HAVE FIGURED OUT THE ISSUE.

Don't blame the putter for your crappy golf game.

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Comment by Walt Snyder on August 18, 2016 at 10:09pm

x2, well done

Comment by Gary Welch on August 8, 2016 at 1:32pm
Well written. Thanks for taking the time. I am definitely in the sh___ty pilot category right now but I will practice until I am comfortable with it.

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