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First Flight: AV84ALL's Zenith CH 750 Cruzer. October 21, 2018
John Robinson's Zenith CH 750 Cruzer, powered by a 130-hp Viking engine (Honda conversion), with adapted hand controls.
"I and five dedicated volunteers from EAA Chapter 1083 have built a Zenith 750 Cruzer airplane. In keeping with our mission goals, we made a few adaptations to make this aircraft accessible for disabled pilots: we adapted the rudder pedals to be manipulated by a control stick located between the pilot's legs. Also located on that same stick is a potentiometer throttle and braking action. Aileron and elevator are controlled by a stick located between the pilot and copilot and is not adapted.
"On Sunday, October 21, all that work payed off when our Zenith left the earth for the first time. It was amazing to see something that was a pile of metal turned into a complex flying machine. I look forward to sitting in the pilot seat, taking the controls, and leaving the earth again."
Background: John Robinson of North Carolina followed his service in the Navy by beginning a career as a law enforcement officer. While driving home from a training session he had an auto accident that resulted in him becoming a quadriplegic. For the independent young man it was not only a devastating physical blow, but an emotional one as well. Instead of being on his own, he was forced to move into his mother's home as he learned how to deal with his new life. But John was determined to make the best of what he had been dealt, and not only earned his masters degree, he taught special education students for a number of years. In 2015 he was awarded an Able Flight scholarship and earned his pilot certificate as a member of Able Flight's "Class of 2015" at Purdue. At a ceremony at EAA AirVenture, John was honored as the 2015 recipient of the Shell Aviation/Able Flight Scholarship.
After becoming a pilot, John realized that finding aircraft to rent with adapted controls (for pilots with disabilities) was difficult, so being the pragmatic problem solver that he is, he decided to do something about it and formed AV84ALL, a charitable organization to "make aviation accessible to all, no matter the disability." He purchased a Zenith CH 750 Cruzer kit and with the help of local EAA Chapter volunteers built and completed the aircraft, powered by a Viking 130-hp Honda-conversion. Jan Eggenfellner of Viking Aircraft Engines traveled to North Carolina to perform the first flight this past Sunday, October 21.