Zeniths to Oshkosh 2011... Zenith Builders Banquet (Part Three)

Wednesday will be a day to remember for many years.  It was the day for the Zenith Builders Banquet to honor Chris Heintz.  The location for the banquet was the scenic EAA Nature Center right on the AirVenture grounds under a large tent, big enough to hold all 250 attendees:

EAA's founder Paul Poberezny was the special guest for the evening, and he and Chris spent a good part of the evening reminiscing about the "good old days" from early EAA Oshkosh conventions, sharing many of their stories for the first time to the banquet attendees:

Paul Poberezny's official escort for the evening was 18 year old Sabrina, who has already built and flown her own Zenith, and now studies at MIT (among other things).  Below, Sabrina poses with Chris and Paul for a great photo by Larry Zepp:

Though it looked like rain and wind were going to threaten the evening, the clouds and winds cleared away for perfect weather.  It was great to see so many familiar faces, as well as many new ones:

EAA AirVenture's founder Paul Poberezny gave the message that we are all family and shared stories of him and Chris and the Oshkosh fly-in from the early seventies:

Attendees at the banquet included Zenith builders, owners and pilots from around the world, including Asia, Africa, South America and Australia and New Zealand:

Following a great dinner, several special guests and Zenith owners spoke briefly on Chris' contributions and accomplishments over the past forty years.  EAA's Charlie Becker congratulated Chris for his ongoing contributions and commitment to sport aviation, while Jonathan Porter from Medicine on the Move (Ghana, Africa) and missionary pilot Mike Dawson (Venezuela, South America) spoke on how Chris' designs are saving lives around the world.

FlyCorvair's William Wynne also spoke on Chris' contributions to the sport and hobby of homebuilding, and Doug Dugger from Quality Sport Planes spoke briefly about flying to AirVenture from California in his CH 601 XL-B aircraft (along with three other Zodiacs).  My brother Matt and I also each had a chance to thank our father for his great designs.  Chris then shared some stories about the challenges and rewards of being a pioneer in the kit industry, and thanked all his customers (and friends) for their loyalty and support over the past four decades, and thanked EAA AirVenture for bringing aviation enthusiasts from around the world together.

Above, Roger from the Zenith factory chats with Zenith builders. Some attendees were builders from the seventies and eighties, while many were new builders joining the "Zenith family" for the first time.  Below, Chris and Paul part ways after a enjoyable and memorable evening:

The entire event was made possible thanks to the organizational efforts of Joe Scheibinger, a fellow Zenith builder based in Oshkosh, and we thank Joe for all his hard work in organizing this great event.  Joe also was instrumental in organizing the Zeniths to Oshkosh initiative.  We also thank volunteers (fellow Zenith builders) who helped organize and run the events during the evening as well as the following sponsors who graciously supplied door prizes: David Clark headsets, Aircraft Spruce & Specialty, Sporty's Pilot Shop, Contact! magazine, FlightCrafters builder assist centers, UL Power aero engines, the Zenair Newsletter, and of course EAA.

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