Zenith Aircraft Company offers prospective builders the chance to “try before they buy” at the company’s factory workshops.
Participants get the opportunity to start assembling kit parts under the direction and guidance of factory professionals, and they “graduate” from the workshop upon completing construction of their own aircraft rudder tail section of one of Zenith Aircraft Company’s kit aircraft designs, including the new STOL CH 750 or ZODIAC CH 650, according to officials with the Mexico, Missouri-based company.
The workshops are held over two days, with participants assembling the complete rudder tail kit of the aircraft (which is the entire vertical tail section of the Chris Heintz designs) from stock rudder kit parts. Some of the skills learned in the construction of the rudder assembly include: reading the drawings and assembly manuals, measuring, drilling, de-burring, and blind riveting, as well as cutting and filing sheet metal parts. Once complete, the rudder tail section is ready to install on an actual airplane and each participant keeps the rudder that they have assembled themselves. The rudder kit that is built at the workshop is constructed the same way as the rest of the kit airplane, providing an introduction to all-metal light aircraft construction, company officials said.
Roger Dubbert, Zenith’s demo pilot and a staff workshop coordinator, states: “The workshop makes it very easy for first-time builders to learn all about building their own plane — they learn about the required tools, skills and workshop by spending a couple of days on actual construction. Our workshops really emphasize hands-on experience — with the philosophy that one learns best by experience. Of course the workshop would not be complete without a demo flight!”
All participants are offered a demo flight in the aircraft, and the workshop includes a tour of the Zenith kit aircraft production facilities.
Zenith’s kits are supplied complete, with standard factory-riveted wing spars, factory welded steel parts, and all hardware included to complete the aircraft. Kit builders can choose to “buy-as-they-build” from component (section) kits or they can purchase the full kit in one large box. Alternatively, some builders also choose to “scratch-build” their complete airplane from the available drawings (blueprints).
Spouses, family members and friends are encouraged to attend and to take part in the rudder kit assembly (at no additional cost), making the workshop a potential fun getaway for a few days. Participants are also invited to attend a social group dinner at the end of the first day.
“We recommend our workshops as a starting point to anyone interested in building, owning or flying a light aircraft,” states Zenith Aircraft Company president Sebastian Heintz. “Oftentimes, initially skeptical builders are surprised that they already have the skills needed to build their own and they find out that building their own airplane is both a fun and rewarding project. Even if you’ve already decided to build your own Zenith kit, we recommend the workshop as an excellent starting point to pick up useful building tips and hints, and to learn more about using the hand tools and working with the parts and the assembly drawings and instructions.”
If you cannot travel to the factory to attend a workshop, Zenith also offers the ‘Rudder Starter Kit’ which includes the complete rudder tail kit and detailed assembly instructions that can be shipped by UPS. The rudder takes about 10 hours to assemble (with basic tools), and provides the first-time builder with an introduction to building an all-metal Zenair aircraft, while actually building a control section for the aircraft.
Zenith Aircraft Company’s factory workshops are held every month. The next workshop dates are: Nov. 18 & 19 and Dec. 8 & 9.
For more information: 573-581-9000 or ZenithAir.com