Happy Birthday Chris Heintz 


Today is the 78th birthday of the founder of Zenith Aircraft, Chris Heintz. While I have great admiration for the legendary designers of experimental aircraft, and I have had the good fortune to meet Wittman, Rutan, VanGrunsven, and Monett, I can say without the slightest hesitation that Chris Heintz has a greater impact on my work in aviation simply because I learned more about the design of aircraft from him.


I “met” him nearly 30 years ago, through a series of articles he wrote for the EAA publication Light Plane World. The articles demonstrated three things very clearly: He wrote to educate, not impress readers; He had values, refusing to design planes with stall speeds that precluded survivability;  and sharing what he knew was a vital part, maybe even his primary mission in aviation. I read these as a freshman at Embry Riddle, in the periodical section of the library. I appreciated them greatly, but could never have imagined the long term impact of the mans work on my years ahead in aviation. For this, I remain most grateful, and I join thousands of other aviators in celebrating the life’s work of Chris Heintz.



Above, Sun n Fun 2006, L-R: My Father, Chris Heintz, myself, Grace Ellen, my Mother, and Grace’s Mother. Aircraft design is a field that draws people with strong egos and yet to be explored social skills. In this arena, Chris Heintz stands out completely against the norm. Without question, he is the most approachable and modest of all the major designers I have ever met.

Further reading:

12 years of Zenith’s powered by FlyCorvair Conversions.

Zenith’s Roger Dubbert, man who has flown 10,000 demo flights.

Ken Pavlou’s Zenith 601XL hits 500 hours.

Corvairs at the 25th Zenith open house.

Zenith / Corvair installation 

16 Flying Corvair powered Zenith 601/ 650s

Woody’s 2,850cc Corvair/601XL hits 400 hours.

A tale of three Zenith builders.

Patrick Hoyt, new Zenith 601XL, now flying, N-63PZ

Zenith 650-2700cc Dave Gardea

Another new “Zenvair” 601XLB, Jim Ballew, 2700cc

Second “Zenvair”, the McDaniel’s 2700cc 601XLB

 Patrick Hoyt, new Zenith 601XL, now flying, N-63PZ

Guest writer: Phil Maxson, flying a 3100cc Corvair in his 601XL

 601XL-2700cc Dr. Gary Ray

 Zenith 601XL-3100cc Dr. Andy Elliott




One Reply to “Happy Birthday Chris Heintz ”

  1. In 2014 we had the opportunity to meet and talk with Chris Heintz during the One Week Wonder build at Oshkosh. He is simply a humble and passionate person. I wish I knew French better as it would have been great to gain insight through language. On a personal level it was also interesting to find that his specialty in the French Air Force was basically what I did in the USAF.
    Happy birthday for Chris!
    Harold and Edi

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