MEXICO, Mo. — Most people would not buy an automobile without taking it out for a test drive, so Zenith Aircraft encourages people to attend a builders’ workshop to test their aptitude for building before buying an aircraft kit.
That is why 70% to 80% of the people who attend a Zenith workshop put off the purchase until they have built a rudder at the factory. The rudder is representative of the type of work that will go into the majority of the airframe.
The company holds a workshop once a month and at the October event this year, 12 people built seven rudders and all went home after placing an order for a Zenith aircraft kit.
“We really encourage people to attend a workshop before committing to a project,” said Sebastien Heinz, president of Zenith Aircraft. “The workshop introduces them to the critical skills, convinces them that they can employ those skills and then sets up an anticipation for getting started when their kit arrives. They’ve already done the rudder and feel a sense of accomplishment when they unpack the rest of the components.”
Heintz noted they really encourage builders to bring their spouse.
“Wives often feel a little intimidated for the first few hours, but then they see other wives working, discover they can do the same things their husbands do, and it turns into an enjoyable experience. They’re surprised to learn that they really can read plans and build an airplane.”
Workshop attendees assemble a rudder in the factory, after taking a tour of the facilities and seeing how the aircraft kits are fabricated. During the workshops, builders are taken out one at a time to go for a demonstration flight in a Zenith factory aircraft. After 20 years of running workshops, the company has refined the process so that everyone finishes their rudder and all go home with a sense of achievement.
The Zenith Workshops always occur on a Thursday and Friday. They limit the number of rudder projects to 12, which would involve 20–25 people. Most of the time a builder will bring one or two relatives along. People have come from as far away as Australia and most of the European countries for the workshops, company officials noted.
For more information: ZenithAir.com