Zenith 601XL, ‘home’ after 13 years.

Builders,

Phil Maxson, flew down to my house in Florida today. Although I have seen his plane at a number of Colleges, airshows and visiting him in NJ, it has been 13 years since his plane was down at my place.

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In 2004 our Zenith 601XL was the first Corvair powered one to fly. It was a pretty big hit, but the second one wasn’t completed until 2006, when Phil finished his in my hangar. Since then more than 150 Corvair powered Zeniths have followed, each special, but you have a certain attachment for the “First Customer built” version of anything you are offering to homebuilders.

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The plane is a part of a story of service to builders and being here for the long run. Get a look at this story: 14 Years of Corvair Powered Zeniths. , and What defines ‘reputable’ in our industry?, for a better look at how long I have been at this.

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Tail of Phil’s 601XL in my front yard today.

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His very simple instrument panel with $120 ADSB

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Phil and Gus Warren in the Zenith Aircraft booth at Sun n Fun 2006.

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Above, Phil Maxson at Corvair College #24 in Barnwell SC.

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Parked in my front yard today.

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Want to know what the real reward of building Corvairs for 30 years is? Its having a friend like Phil fly down to your front yard, and wait impatiently for me to finish typing this sentence so we can head out to Ronnies, our local bar and grill for dinner.

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Zilke Corvair/Zenith 750, a father and son plane.

Builders,

Below are a few quick pictures of Ron Zilke’s 3.0L Corvair powered Zenith 750 STOL, now flying in TN. Ron and his son worked side by side thought the project, and it is now a proud moment for both of them.

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Above, Father and son with their plane.  Nearly everyone who buys a kit tells themselves that they will keep an ambitious schedule up and finish in short order. Reality is a little different. There is a lot to learn and do on even the most complete kits, and the reward of finishing a plane most frequently belongs to the builders who enjoy the learning and the creative process, and let the schedule develop as it does.

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The other key element of getting a plane finished and flying is choosing to work with companies who will still be around to support you. Zenith aircraft has been in Mexico MO for 25 years, but they have been in North America for 45 years, all under the ownership and data to day operation of the same family.  While this year marks my 15th year of putting Corvairs on Zenith’s , it is also my 30th year of putting Corvairs on experimental aircraft.  No matter what any new product claims, if the company isn’t going to last, they will shortly offer no support at all to the people who spent money on their products.

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The Zilke’s took 5 years to build and fly their plane. Consider this: About 1/2 the engine companies which displayed at Oshkosh 2014, the same year the Zilke’s bought their kit, are bankrupt and gone. Had they selected one of those companies, they would have had a much more difficult time finishing, if it were possible at all. Building airplanes is challenging enough without that kind of drama. Choose who you work with carefully.

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Above, an image of long term support:  We elected to hold Corvair College #34 in 2015 at the Zenith Factory. If you look closely, the man building his own engine in the red tee shirt at the right is Ron, his son is in blue. If it takes 2, 5, or 15 years for you to finish your plane, I will still be here to support you.

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To see more pictures from the College look here: Photos from Corvair College #34 at Zenith A/C.

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Above, a good side view of the completed and flying plane.  Many great adventures lie ahead for this father son team.

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