EAA Chapters & Schools Building Together

Some people say they have been involved in aviation for as long as they can remember. Wouldn't it be great to be involved in something that would help give today's children the opportunity to say the same thing in the future? Some schools are doing just that by partnering with their local EAA Chapters to make it happen and building their own Zenith Aircraft!

Fuqua School located in a small town of approximately 8,000 residents in Farmville, Virginia have created what they call their "Zenith Class". Their local EAA Chapter 1202 approached the school about building a real airplane as part of their learning process.

"Fuqua was enthusiastically interested, and the rest, as they say, is history. Members of the EAA Chapter were tasked with selecting which airplane to build, and chose a Zenith CH 750 CRUZER as the airplane best suited for the project. Chapter President, Morgan Dunnavant, noted that this plane offered a combination of a proven non-complex design with construction requirements suitable for first-time builders."

How does it work?

"Members of the EAA Chapter provides technical guidance and mentoring to the students who will be the actual builders of the airplane. Jim Willis, another pilot and EAA Chapter member, explains that the building part of the program will introduce the students to sheet metal work, avionics, instrumentation, power plant (engine), upholstery, electrical circuitry, and in many cases using tools they have never heard of." President Dunnavant states, "This is a tough course, but one that will last the students the rest of their careers. The vision of the class is to assist in reinforcing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) course curriculum at Fuqua."

They have 10 students involved in the program each semester. The class is being accomplished by integrating three days each week of online aviation training using Embry Riddle curriculum with two days each week and one Saturday each month spending time in the bus shop (as Dean Susan Carden calls it, "our airplane factory") building the aircraft with EAA Chapter volunteer instructors. The course extends into the summer months for aviation camp at Fuqua School and lasts a week. The students are graded based on their quiz scores from the online curriculum and by the EAA Chapter members based on their participation and presentation skills with the hands-on portion of the building project.

What progress has been made so far toward the building of the CH 750 CRUZER?

"Currently, the first semester students have completed the horizontal stabilizer, elevator assembly, rudder, and part of the fuselage for the plane," Dunnavant said.

How is the project funded?

The Zenith Aircraft kit sections have been funded through donations given toward the project, including the start up donation of approximately $2,500 provided by EAA Chapter 1202. In the near future, Fuqua School will be meeting with area business owners and local individuals explaining how they can sponsor a part of their plane. Fuqua School is obtaining an individual parts price list for the CH 750 CRUZER from Zenith Aircraft and this will give more sponsors the opportunity to get involved without having to make a donation for a complete kit section. This is a great way to gain more community involvement with the project and allows the sponsor an opportunity to see the part of the plane they donated and depending on the case maybe even the opportunity to put their name to it. 

What is the plan for the completed CH 750 CRUZER?

"After construction of the plane is complete, it will be sold and proceeds will go into a fund to provide a new airplane construction kit for Fuqua students," Dunnavant said.

For more information on this Zenith group build project or to make a tax deductible donation, please contact Fuqua School at 434.392.4131. They are very interested in showing off their progress to anyone who wants to come for a visit!

Zenith Aircraft offers four models (Zenith CH 650, STOL CH 701, STOL CH 750, and our newest design CH 750 CRUZER) of airplanes to choose from and we are here to help you get your school/chapter project started! For more information, please contact Zenith Aircraft at 573.581.9000 or email Rebecca@zenithair.com.

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Comment by Rebecca Riley on February 3, 2016 at 9:03am

Hi Bud. Please email me (Rebecca@zenithair.com) your contact information and I would be happy to touch base and share some ideas and resources with you on how to get your Zenith chapter build started!

Comment by bud smith on February 2, 2016 at 3:41pm

Hi Rebecca, I've been discussing doing the same type of build program with our 203 chapter. How did you get started? Is the EAA involved or provide any guidance?

Comment by Terry D Hobert on February 2, 2016 at 11:59am

This is a great program!  I believe this has the potential to change a young persons life for the best. Not to mention the chance for older mentors to interact with an up coming generation!

Comment by Chris M. Brammer, Jr. on February 2, 2016 at 11:37am
Great post. Think of all the young aviators and aircraft builders being inspired as a teen to get into aviation. Don't we all wish we had had that opportunity.

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