What are some good books/resources that discuss the finer points of flying the Zenith 750? I am an instructor and I see a need for good instructors in this community. Instructors that can teach well the differences inherent is this type of low inertia/ high drag machine. I have yet to experiment much with power off approaches and have interest in sage advice in this area.

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Comment by Conor Whitehead on August 27, 2021 at 12:17am

At Pianosa Flying Farm I hold a LODA to train people that already hold a pilot cert.  The last three years I've had the opportunity to help transition several pilots into the 750 STOL, and flown some cruzers.  From my experience the comments from Joe and Daniel below are quite accurate.  I train people to land the plane power-off (at idle) pretty early on.  Mostly this is to show how much speed is needed, and to get a feel for what the round-out is like.  

Normal landings for me almost always are slightly power-on, but every few landings I pull the power to idle and try to put the bird where I want it to be on the runway.  No amount of our typing on this forum can make up for practice by you, in your bird however, it can help you develop a plan to help train yourself.  And how to train others.

Takeoffs are also quite important.  As there are a lot of ways to land, there are definitely several to taking off.  

If you ever want to talk more details feel free to message directly (I haven't been on the forum much for a while though).  

Great luck with your endeavors.  I'm glad more people are trying to help the Zenith community.

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Comment by Joe Harrington on July 8, 2021 at 12:07am

Hi Greg,

I am not an instructor nor do I want to become one, but I do have about 500 hours flying my 750 and I have about 1000 hours flying two seat ultralight type aircraft and about 75 hours flying Piper Cherokees. I land power off probably about 90% of the time because that is how I learned in ultralights. The 750 has many of characteristics of ultralights, ie, low inertia/high drag. Like Dan says a steep(ish) approach with a round out close to the ground is best way IMO. Because these are relatively low inertia/high drag airplanes, they do not float very much (long) in ground effect. The trick is to figure out how much speed you need on final and the proper sight picture for the round-out so you are not too high nor too low and bounce off the ground before you sink rate is arrested. Also the approach speed will vary depending on weight, flap setting, and density altitude so it will take some experience to figure that out. I also typically use half flaps and unlike Dan, I do find that they provide lift and do lower the stall speed a little bit. They also add drag (as Dan says) which makes the round-out timing more critical. I should also mention that I plans-built my 750 without slats and I have only ever flown one CH750 STOL with slats once so take everything I just said with a grain of salt. 

Good luck,


Comment by Daniel Niendorff on July 6, 2021 at 8:10pm

My advice is to be very very careful with power off approaches.  They are very unforgiving.  

It seems everyone thinks that being a STOL aircraft, the Zenith can land very short in case of an engine failure.  Its true if may come so a stop quickly once on the ground, but it will take more room to land than a power on STOL landing. When attempting to land short with power, the airplane hangs on the prop and uses engine power to counter descent. This allows a pretty slow ground speed during the approach. This obviously cannot work without power.  Trying the same thing without power will ruin your day.  And if you are used to adopting that sight picture on approach, you can get in trouble very easily. 

The technique that I have found to work involves carrying a much higher than normal speed into a pretty steep final approach, and flying it down the runway until I am holding just above the strip.  The plane will naturally begin to bleed off speed while holding level just above the runway. As it slows I increase the pitch slowly to bleed off more energy while holding a constant altitude just above the runway, and finally allowing it to touch down when it won't fly anymore.  This has to be done very gently, because if you pitch up before you have bled off enough energy and therefore gain altitude  (ie: ballooning), there is not much chance for recovery.  Remember that the slatted STOL wing won't stall, it will just convert the energy you put into a flare attempt into altitude.

Lastly, I would suggest not attempting this with flaps.  The STOL flaps are more akin to spoilers than flaps.  Without power the sink rate will be very high, and it would take a lot of energy to convert that to level flight, and it seems more vulnerable to wind shifts.I tried it once and I regret it.  I ended up with a broken nose gear, a prop spike, and a year of work to put the airplane back the way I wanted it.  

Good luck with your endeavor, we need more Zenith CFIs doing transition training.

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