On Sunday 7/16 about 12:30, My lovely CH801 made its last landing.

Gusty cross caused a bounce when I touched back down the nose gear collapsed, we slid about 50 feet, it grabbed the sod, and flipped. Nothing but band aid sized injuries for myself and PAX gotten as we crawled out. The rugged cage did its job and protected us. It was a lousy landing but not any worse than some before and better than many. But this time the bungee, failed and allowed nose to drop sufficiently for prop to dig which started the rest of the sequence.

Upon examination it turned out that the 2 year old bungee had already failed over half way through since last oil change before Easter when it was visually inspected. I had it on my upgrade list to install a steel spring and shock mod during inspection in Oct, and possibly would have caught it during oil change which was supposed to happen today.

Check your bungees often or better yet do the steel bungee upgrade or equivalent.  I have a design for a simple rugged, easy upgrade that should cost around $100 to do.

Total time on aircraft was ~180 hours since new, got its papers in 12/2013. I put 158 hours and 305 landings on it at 84 airports, private grass strips and duster strips in that time. AC is total loss. requiescat in pace N801G. On the brighter side, anyone out there have an 801 airframe or partial kit they want to sell?  Depending on insurance outcome, I may by the wreck and transfer a lot of nice slightly used parts.

Fly Safely!

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Sam - Met you once at Sun n Fun in Homebuilt Camping and looked at your plane.  I'm so glad that no one was seriously injured - that seems to be typical in Zenith landing crashes, thank goodness! 

I know the prop strike is unavoidable if the nose gear collapses, but out of curiosity, does the 801 have a welded stop ring on the nose gear strut to prevent a prop strike if the bungee breaks?  (On the 750, I've got about 9" of prop-ground clearance with a broken bungee and the lower nose gear bearing resting on the welded stop ring.)

Check your bungees often or better yet do the steel bungee upgrade or equivalent.  I have a design for a simple rugged, easy upgrade that should cost around $100 to do.

You're killing me with that "teaser" about the $100 upgrade!  Ha!  I'd love to hear the details and leave it to you as to whether to start a new thread or keep it in this one!

Again, glad you're OK!



Bad day Sam, glad nobody got hurt.   

Sometimes these things look better in a few days once the initial shock is over.  Might not be as bad as it looks.


It's striking and thought-provoking to see how well the passenger compartment (and you!) fared.

I never considered the 801 (or anything else non-LSA), but seeing how well the 801 handled this, plus the new medical rule that just got passed.  It gets a guy thinking....

Prediction:  more guys are going to be impressed with, and take a second look at, the 801.



Glad to hear you made it out. I would like the info on the gear mod

Attached are a couple of files with data and a description as well as another person's solution. It got as far as measurements written down on an old scrap of aluminum, some numbers on a calculator, and some internet research. Some details to work out, but this is not a rocket science problem. It only requires a Junk Yard Wars solution. So you all read the attached and tell me if I am crazy.  No welding, no complex machining. Most of it can be done with a drill press and a hole saw. I am focusing now on finding a new airframe. It would be great if one of you guys had it all worked out in detail by the time I get another.

Bon Chance'


Sam - did you ever utilize this mod on an 801?  Curious how it worked out and roughly how many hours you had in making it happen.  

BTW, Sam, you mentioned in the accident description you posted in the Classified Ads that the bungee had 2 years of service life but you didn't know how old it was from manufacture. The manufacturer, SBC Industries in Scottsboro, Alabama, has a Color Code chart on this page where you can look at the color of the threads in the bungee cover and determine the year and quarter of manufacture.

I once asked SBC for a recommendation for shelf life/service life for the bungees but they said that SBC had no specific recommendation and "to go by what the airplane manufacturer says."


Glad everyone came out mostly unscathed. That's most important, and it looks like the airframe did it's job. 

Those are pretty stout airframes, I bet it's repairable without "major" parts replacement. I'd like to see it back in the air.

Does Zenith offer the rubber puck nose gear suspension for the 801? Perhaps they can develop one due to your experience.

I did not use it. With my current 801 I threw away the original bungee that was on it and bought a heavier rated bungee from fresh stock. Then did the super cheap trick of clamping a 3/4 wide slice of radiator hose around the tube slightly above the stop ring. As long as the stop rign can't jam in the bottom strut bearing, the rudder won't lock if the bungee breaks.   

I have about 450 hours on it  and several hundred landings. 

I do plan to install the rubber donut design borrowed from the 750.  I had looked into something like it after the accident but couldn't find the donuts, hence the design with the spring and shock. But the donuts are simpler and robust. I am trying to finish up building my house with hanger and runway on my farm.  Then i can pull the engine and do the mods in the comfort of my own hanger with everything i need to do it at hand. 


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