Sebring 2018 - Flying and Building Faster!

Here's my follow-up photo report of the 2018 Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, and of our flight to and from Sebring, Florida.

We took two Zenith airplanes on the trip to Florida: I flew the Zenith CH 750 Cruzer with my daughter (below) while Roger flew the new Zenith STOL CH 750 Super Duty with Steve.

Crossing the frozen Missouri River as we head southeast on the 1,000+ mile journey to Sebring, Florida

As I've said in the past, the trip itself is often the highlight of attending fly-ins and shows, and the 1,000+-mile journey (each way) allows us to spend quality time flying the planes that we spend our days building. This gives us the opportunity to experience first-hand the cross-country capability of our airplanes.Above, Roger and Steve in the new STOL CH 750 Super Duty, equipped with fat tundra tires and powered by the powerful IO-375 engine (rated up to 205-hp), cruising at 105+ mph.

Video: Crossing the Mississippi River into Kentucky on our way to Florida:

Below, crossing the Tennessee River at Muscle Shoals, Alabama:

Stopping for the night in Cullman, Alabama, we enjoyed southern hospitality and BBQ! Pulled pork sandwiches, fried green tomatoes, and fried everything else :)

Flying cross country we typically only stop at small (uncontrolled) airports. We're continually surprised by the excellent services offered by these local airports that dot the landscape. Many small airports offer personalized services in a friendly and accommodating manner. Features we look for at small airports: Self-serve fuel (24 hour access, lower cost), and airport courtesy car (to go grab lunch or to drive to the hotel). 

Heading south the next day, making slow progress due to headwinds but enjoying the view:

Enjoying the view over southern Alabama:

Map of our trip from the Zenith Aircraft factory in Mexico, Missouri to Sebring, Florida. Due to weather, we overnighted in Farmington, Missouri (KFAM), and then again in Cullman, Alabama (KCMD):

While we like returning to known airports along the way (especially ones with great service and amenities) we also like the adventure of stopping at airports we've never visited before and exploring new small towns. Fuel and lunch stop in Camilla, Georgia (KCXU):

In Florida, a short fuel stop at Williston Municipal Airport (X60), home of the Pyper Kub Cafe :

Happy to be in Florida, making our way south to Sebring:

Flying over the many lakes of central Florida:

Video: Arrival at Sebring:

The two Zenith airplanes on the Sebring Expo grounds on Tuesday afternoon before the start of the Expo:

One of the reasons we keep coming back to Sebring is to host the hands-on Zenith workshops during the Expo.

The Zenith rudder workshop starts Wednesday morning with an eager group of builders!

Video: Overview of the workshops at Sebring:

I received the following note from an appreciative workshop participant: "Just wanted to thank you for the excellent experience both you and your team provided at the Sebring January 24th/25th Workshop. I truly enjoyed constructing the CH750 Cruzer rudder and of course the demo flight! Both Roger and Steve provided excellent oversight while I was constructing my Cruzer rudder. Their talents are obvious and they readily share their experience without any hesitation. All of my questions were answered and my concerns were diminished as they guided me during the workshop. I am truly looking forward to ordering the Cruzer kit this spring and again I appreciate your taking the time to answer all of my questions patiently."  While we've been hosting workshops for the past 25 years we still enjoy working with new builders, teaching them assembly basics and sharing with them our love of building and flying!


Below, sixteen year old Hannah (with her younger siblings and her dad) with the completed rudder assembly for the STOL CH 701 that she is building. Hannah completed the entire rudder assembly in just one day! We look forward to helping her build her very own airplane.

Below, Roger and Steve from the Zenith factory, with Amy and Herman Eshuis from Wheels and Wings (builder assistance) with new builders Bob and Ann with their completed Zenith CH 750 Cruzer rudder assembly (that they built in just three hours!):

Jamie Beckett, AOPA ambassador and General Aviation News columnist, spent a couple hours building the STOL CH 750 Super Duty rudder, thoroughly enjoying the build process.  The new CH 750 Super Duty rudder is much easier and quicker to build than previous Zenith rudders thanks to final hole size match-drilled parts!

Above: Enthusiastically getting started on the rudder assembly. Below, still enthusiastic a couple of hours later with the completed rudder assembly.

Ever the consummate aviation advocate, Jamie explains how we're the only thing holding ourselves back: "This basic human tendency to short-circuit our own hopes and dreams is a tremendously effective method of holding most of us back from ever trying to do something big, something amazing, something we can be truly proud of."

AVweb Builds An Airplane (Part)

Paul Bertorelli, editor of and The Aviation Consumer, took us up on our offer to build the rudder kit for the new STOL CH 750 Super Duty (SD). Below, Paul rivets rear ribs to the rudder spar assembly:

In the first half of the video I share details about how SolidWorks software and CNC manufacturing has made Zenith kits easier to build, and in the second half of the video Roger Dubbert takes Paul Bertorelli flying in the Zenith CH 750 Super Duty.

Being our newest model, the CH 750 SD kit is the easiest Zenith model to build, fully utilizing match drilled final hole size technology made possible with SolidWorks design software and CNC manufacturing. The entire STOL CH 750 SD rudder (which is large than the standard STOL CH 750 / 701 rudder) takes just a few hours to put together.

Below: Herman Eshuis (right) of Wheels and Wings (builder assistance) discusses professional builder assistance services available in Edgewater, Florida:

Dan Johnson of interviews Jan Eggenfellner of Viking Aircraft Engines about a new auto conversion for the STOL CH 750 Super Duty:

A second group of enthusiastic rudder builders started on Friday morning:

Roger was busy with demo and media flights. Below he briefs aviation writer and photographer Richard Saint-George and editor Pierre Harvey (of French language Aviation magazine) in the STOL CH 750 SD before letting them take the airplane up for an in-depth flight review.

Richard Saint-George checks out the rear jump seat of the STOL CH 750 Super Duty:

Video: Flying the Zenith CH 750 Cruzer with STOL CH 750 Super Duty for air-to-air for photos:

Here are a few photos of the CH 750 Super Duty by Richard Saint-George from the morning air-to-air photo shoot:

Over Lake Parker (Sebring, Florida)

Robert's Rivets:

Robert Goyer, editor of Plane and Pilot magazine, also came by to learn about our new STOL CH 750 Super Duty (and the new UnPanel display) and pulled a few rivets on a rudder assembly:

Once again, we had a very positive experience holding the workshops at the Sebring Sport Aviation Expo, and enjoyed meeting with existing and new Zenith builders and owners! After four days we were ready to start the journey home.

Video: Departing Sebring in the STOL CH 750 Super Duty: Watch as Roger and Steve depart from Sebring (KSEF) and discuss the Sebring Expo, workshop experience and the flight home on the STOL CH 750 Super Duty. We landed in scenic Crystal River (KCGC) for lunch and fuel:

Flying along the scenic Florida gulf coast on our way home in the Zenith CH 750 Cruzer:

Crossing the Suwannee River heading north:

We only made it to northern Florida due to weather, overnighting in Perry (40J). Here's the trip home:

The next morning we had clear skies (but 30 mile headwinds!). Below, flying north in southern Alabama:

Alabama Lake, where the river (brown water) mixes into the lake (blue) water:

Crossing the Tennessee River east of Muscle Shoals:

Cooler weather and lower ceilings in Alabama but making still making progress:

Low ceilings yet good visibility, before stopping for the night in Carroll County (McKenzie, TN):

In Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri, the weather was much colder the next morning!

Passing over the Mississippi River and enjoying the view of the barges chugging ever so slowly upriver:

Relatively low river levels make for big sandbars on the mighty Mississippi River:

Spending hours in the Zenith CH 750 Cruzer gave me time to verify speeds at various power settings over extended periods of time. As the photo below shows, I was happy to obtain better than expected cruise speeds: 121 mph @ 2,800 rpm with the UL350iS engine. Also, we were pleased to observe that the more powerful (but higher lift and draggier) STOL CH 750 Super Duty was nearly able to keep up with the CH 750 Cruzer, averaging over 105 mph cruise speeds on the trip home.

Approaching central Missouri, we followed the scenic Missouri River for awhile (instead of just crossing it). Known as the "Big Muddy," the Missouri River meanders across the state with bluffs and sandbars along the way. During the summer we enjoy cycling the Katy Trail that borders the river. Here's the video (notice how my daughter and I are bundled for the freezing January temperatures of the Missouri winter in the video):

While we're happy to be home, we're already looking forward to our next trip back to Florida: Sun'n Fun is coming up soon in Lakeland, Florida, from April 10 - 1....

Check out my Sebring reports from the past few years:

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Comment by Harry Walia on February 2, 2018 at 1:45pm

Great compilation Sebastien. Wish I could be part of this FUN n' Adventure :)

Comment by Walt Snyder on February 2, 2018 at 1:23pm

What a well documented and great adventure! 

Comment by dan glaze on February 1, 2018 at 7:44pm

great videos Sebastien!  

Comment by Zenith Aero on February 1, 2018 at 2:06pm

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