At approximately 11:07 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 5, the airplane thousands of Experimental Aircraft Association members had a hand in building during the One Week Wonder project at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2014 flew for the first time.
With EAA’s Jeff Skiles at the controls, the Zenith CH 750 Cruzer N140WW departed Wittman Regional Airport’s Runway 9, quickly ascended to about 1,800 feet, did one circuit around the pattern, landed at 11:19 a.m., and taxied to EAA’s Weeks Hangar on the north side of the runway.
“The flight was great,” Skiles said. “The Zenith Cruzer has a lot of performance, and lifts off very fast. Like a rocket ship, really.”
It was Skiles first maiden flight of a new aircraft, and he was thoroughly checked out in another Cruzer as well as a 750 STOL.
“I am very fortunate to have the honor of making this first flight,” he added. Although the instruments are not calibrated, Skiles figures he reached a speed of about 85 mph during the flight.
Charlie Becker, EAA community director and homebuilt community manager, who led the program from uncrating to first flight, was finally able to exhale.
“To be honest, it’s a huge sigh of relief for me,” he said. “I didn’t really see it as done until it flew. Sure we got the airworthiness certificate and taxied it at AirVenture on Sunday, but until it flies, it’s not an airplane.”
The logbook located at the One Week Wonder workshop last week shows an incredible 2,500-plus people had a hand in building this airplane. Many people who pulled a rivet also signed their names on the airframe.
“I want to thank each and every one of the participants,” Becker said. “You gave the crew a lot of energy to make it happen. It’s an incredibly rewarding feeling.”
Becker notes that the project’s purpose was to show that building your own airplane is an attainable goal.
“This airplane has touched a lot of lives and will continue to touch lives by showing it can be done.”
Sebastien Heintz, Zenith president, spent most of his time during the convention in the One Week Wonder workshop and decided to stay in Oshkosh a little longer to witness the occasion.
“It came out very nicely, didn’t it?” he said. “The focus of the week was to get it done, but this is a very nice airplane.”
Skiles added that he was pleased to take advantage of the EAA Flight Advisor program.
“I did some transition training with Zenith, and that was very valuable, but this morning it was very helpful for the EAA Flight Advisor to sort of walk me through things and let me know what to expect.”
“It was built in a week, and it is a basic airplane, but it also has a state of the art engine (Rotax 912 iS) and a touch-screen Dynon panel,” Heintz added. “Nobody builds a plane alone. There are resources out there like EAA, and everyone’s goal is to make building an airplane more common.”
For more information: EAA.org