Kit builder Zenith Aircraft is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
“Over the past 20 years kit and experimental aircraft have evolved,” said Sebastien Heintz, president of Zenith Aircraft Co. “However, the aircraft kits and the industry have changed drastically.”
Maturity can be a good thing, he noted. “In terms of kit quality, precision, parts availability, and especially flyability, virtually everything has improved — and when you’re talking about building your own airplane, all those advantages come together even better, when you realize how much more advanced the kit manufacturing equipment, processes, and documentation have become, thanks in large part to technology [such as CNC manufacturing and CAD engineering]. It’s easier today than it ever has been to build your own great flying airplane.”
While Sebastien Heintz’s father, famed CH-series aeronautical engineer Chris Heintz, had been developing and selling plans and kit aircraft since 1974 (and later, certified and LSA), the move to Missouri, Mexico, in 1992 marked a huge milestone for the company. Today, there are several thousand kit-built Zenith aircraft in the air, and several more thousand under construction.
One of the hallmarks of the Heintz designs has been a readiness to allow flexibility in design features that customers want. “We are not locked into any particular engine for our airplane designs,” Sebastien noted. “Though the vast majority choose to fly the standard configuration, we see Lycoming, Continental, Corvair, VW and Honda auto conversion, 4 and 6 cylinder Jabiru engines, and increasingly, the UL Power series being picked by our builders. This flexibility means that people can more-readily tailor their aircraft to their exact tastes, and be assured of factory cooperation and support, while having access to an engine that meets their budget.”
The 20th anniversary celebration will take place at the annual Zenith Aircraft Open Hangar Day and Fly-In gathering at the factory in Mexico, Missouri in September. A banquet will be held on Friday evening, Sept. 21, with the Open Hangar day activities the following day, on Sept. 22 at the Mexico Memorial Airport.
Kit suppliers Dynon, Aircraft Spruce & Specialty, Matco wheels, Wicks, Garmin, Corvair, UL Power, Jabiru engines, and others will attend for the celebration and to meet with Zenith builders and pilots. It’s not a trade show, but an opportunity to interface with builders, owners and pilots of Zenith kit planes, company officials said. Educational seminars, workshops and demonstrations will take place on both days.
For more information: ZenithAir.com