Gary Welch's Zenith CH 601 XLB in Sport Aviation magazine (December 2018)

Five years ago, my wife, Linda, and I were happily members of a flying club that had a Cessna Cardinal. Then one day I went to the doctor andwas diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma. We sold our share in the Cardinal, and I went down that terrifying path that only cancer patients truly understand. To make a long story short, a year later the lump was gone.
However, I doubted if I would ever feel healthy again.
One day, when I was feeling sorry for myself, I met Doug Dugger, the West Coast rep for Zenith Aircraft. Somehow Doug and my wife convinced me to build an airplane. I was skeptical, especially in my deteriorated condition and with the uncertainty of being able to fly again.
I ended up buying a partially complete Zenith CH 601 XLB kit from a local builder. Unlike others, I didn’t have any “happy hours puttering away in my garage.” The whole experience was physically painful and distressing.
I don’t know how my wife put up with me through this period — I was always tired, sore, and frustrated.
We’re not rich, and I continued to rack up hundreds of dollars in parts every month. Yet, throughout the entire build, my wife, Linda, never complained about the money and just kept saying, “I’ll make it work; you just build the plane.”
And then one day my box of parts was empty. After a mountain of preflight checks, Doug Dugger lifted the airplane off the runway at Cloverdale Airport for its first flight. Linda and I stood on the side of the runway and screamed like idiots.
N972GL is powered by a Lycoming O-235-C1 engine and has a basic VFR panel. The 360-degree view from the wraparound canopy is truly appreciated here in Northern California where there are stunning views in every direction.
I am fortunate in so many ways. I got a second chance at life, I have a wonderful adventure machine, and I have the best wife in the world."
Gary Welch, Cloverdale, California.
Reprinted from EAA Sport Aviation magazine, December 2018

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Comment by Peter Leston on December 29, 2018 at 4:45pm

Gary finishing that plane is a great accomplishment congratulations. 

Comment by Mark A Phillips on December 7, 2018 at 3:00pm

Gary, we all need heroes these days and you and your wife are my newest- congrats on a great accomplishment and additional thanks to Doug for his assistance.  Enjoy!!

Comment by Jerry Griego on December 6, 2018 at 11:27pm

GOD IS GREAT. AND SO IS YOUR WIFE. MAY YOUR LIVES BE FILLED WITH GREAT MEMORIES OF GREAT FLIGHTS IN YOUR PLANE. I have family in Santa Rosa Ca. I plan to fly there from Socorro NM. one of these days in MY 650B. I am flying a 701 now and building the 650 and almost done.

Comment by Tom Wesley on December 6, 2018 at 7:27am

That’s fantastic! Have fun! 

Comment by John Fisk on December 5, 2018 at 8:17pm

Congratulations Gary, We serve an Awesome and Great GOD!

Comment by Stan Cooper on December 5, 2018 at 7:36pm

Congratulations, Gary! The wrap turned out great.

Comment by Lawrence Michael Wilson on December 5, 2018 at 6:07pm

My 650 kit arrives this month. I hope it will look as good as your when finished. WELL DONE

Comment by Dan Keys on December 5, 2018 at 5:48pm

What an encouraging story.  I have been diagnosed with the same thing and have (count them...) two 601XL-Bs, a tri-gear and a tail dragger, both in need of re-building.  Some days it seems like the impossible dream, but your story reminds me otherwise.  Thanks!!!

Comment by Jim and Amelia Isaacs on December 5, 2018 at 3:42pm
You are truly blessed. This is one of many stories including Chris and Mike-add me to the list-where were it not for Zenith and other companies like them, many of us would have to surrender our dream of flying.
Every day is a gift.
Comment by Tim Croy on December 5, 2018 at 1:13pm

God is good! Thanks Gary.

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