Below is a partial list of Zeniths that our builders finished and have flown. I am still combing our records to bring all the data to one spot. A handful of the first flight dates may have the wrong month, please feel free to write in with any correction or addition. My intention is to gather the info and use it to update our page on the Official Zenith builders Web site. Grace is out of town with family for a few days, so the errors or omissions on this list are mine. Many of you know that Grace has a phenomenal memory and could have typed this data out directly from her head. Between Grace and some help from builders, we should have an accurate list shortly.
When looking through the information, the first thing I thought is that it is a large body of work. It is quite a success story. There have been a lot of alternative engines that got a lot of play in the aviation media that never ended up with this many planes flying total. Here we are just looking at the Corvair powered planes from a single airframe brand, albeit a very popular brand. These builders put in a lot of work to reach the finish line, and we were very glad to play a role in their success. If we were just a buy-it-in-a-box engine company, these names would just be a list of consumers. Because of the nature of the Corvair movement, the builders listed all learned a lot more about engines, have much more pride in their planes, and a greater degree of achievement at the finish line. When you think about what these builders knew and what they thought they were capable of before starting, and then contrast that with the same people the day their planes flew you are looking at the real body of work. Speaking with Chris Heintz at Oshkosh last year, I said that the planes that are built are hardware, just the end result of the real project, each builder working on himself, improving his skills, capabilities and expanding his belief of what he can do. He smiled and agreed that this was the fundamental value of homebuilding.
This list has planes on it that are not flying today. One of the best known Zenith/Corvair pilots on the list is Scott Laughlin. His aircraft was the first plans built 601XL. He had never built a plane nor an aircraft engine before, and was not a pilot when he started. He had a lot of great times in his aircraft, some of which can be seen on YouTube videos. After flying about 200 hours he kindly let another pilot try a landing in the plane. It was damaged so badly that Scott took the plane apart, and sold off the pieces. Hopefully time will see Scott’s return to another round of homebuilding. The list also includes 2 planes that have moved to a different engine. There are several other aircraft that have flown that we will add later, so the total aircraft number is a good representation. When the list is compiled, I will write up a set of notes on each aircraft, and include photos of each of the planes. For right now we will start with the basic list.
We have a list, far longer, of builders who could finish and fly their Zenith before Oshkosh this year: Ken Pavlou, Larry Winger, Patrick Hoyt, Jeff Cochran, Thomas Siminski, Gerry Scampoli, Larry Webber and Ron Lendon are the first names on this list that pop into my head. You can get a good idea of the number of builders close to the finish by looking at the pictures of running engines in our Corvair College albums. This effect is continuous, in 30 days we will be at Corvair College #22, and we have already lined up four engine runs for the event. All of these are going into Zenith airframes that are largely complete.
We have a third wave, just as important, who have been chipping away at their project for a number of years. A number of these guys were slowed by a move, a kid headed to college or a change in jobs. I know many of these builders just as well from having them at Colleges and making house calls to their shops. People outside the Corvair movement are often mystified by some of our most vocal supporters. Many of the people who go out of their way to say something positive about our work are in this third group. This is because I take their project seriously and treat them just like builders with more available time or funds. Every aviation LLC takes your project very seriously when you are in their booth at Oshkosh with your hand on your wallet. The outfits that are here for the long run take your project seriously all the time. We are here for the long run and I look forward to adding your name and N-number to this list of successful builders.
Builder’s Name Model N-Number Engine 1st Flight
William Wynne 601XL N1777W 3,100 May ’04
Greg Jannakos 601HDS N4399 2,700 June ’05
Randy Stout 601HD N28RS 2,700 May ’05
Gary Ray 601XL N24845 2,700 Sept. ’06
Phil Maxson 601XL N601MX 2,700 Mar. ’06
Brandon Tucker 601HDS N601XT 2,700 Nov. ’06
Rick Lindstrom 601XL N42KP 2,700 Nov. ’06
Cleone Markwell 601HD N998ZZ 2,700 Mar. ’07
Dave Harms 601XL N618PZ 2,700 June ’07
Charles Leonard 601XL N920EL 2,700 June ’07
Murray Rouse 601XL N47186 2,700 Oct. ’07
Ken Smith 601XL N601KS 2,700 Nov. ’07
Scott Laughlin 601XL N5SL 2,700 Jan. ’08
Woody Harris 601XL N734WH 2,850 Feb. ’08
Sandy Crile CH-701 N9569S 2,700 Feb. ’08
Lincoln Probst 601XL C-GXLP 2,700 Apr. ’08
Scott Thatcher 601XL N601EL 2,700 May ’08
Steve Mineart 601XL N164SM 2,700 July ’08
Lynn Dingfelder 601XL N4ZK 2,700 Oct. ’08
Jay Bannister 601XL N2630J 2,700 Oct. ’08
Andy Elliott 601XL N601GE 3,100 Nov. ’08
Ray Griffith 601XL N614RK 2,700 Dec. ’08
Al Barnard 601XL N472AB 2,700 Dec. ’08
Zersis Mehta 601XL N601ZM 2,700 Jan. ’09
Louis Cantor 601XL N601LV 2,700 July ’09
Gary Thomas 601XL N124GT 2,700 July ’09
Dave Coberly 601XL N601XZ 2,700 July ’09
Rich Whittington 601HDS N601RW 3,000
Shayne & Phyllis McDaniel-650 N5880Z 2,700 July ’10
Rich Vetterli 601XL N56DV 2,700 Sept. ’10
Doug Stevenson CH-750 N632DR 3,000 April ’11
Lathrop/Neff 601XL N601LN 2,700 April ’11
Dave Gardea CH-650 N631DG 2,700 May ’11
Alan Uhr 601XL N15AU 2,700 Mar. ’11
Roger Pritchard 601XL N20RB 2,700 Oct. ’11