Corvair Powered Zenith 601/650
In terms of aircraft currently being completed, the Zenith 601/650 series aircraft is the most popular Corvair installation. In addition to meeting all the required
specifications for the powerplant, the Corvair's inexpensive simplicity matches the mission of the airframe. Grace and I ordered our kit from Zenith in 2003. It was
the first tailwheel XL model, and also the first 601 with dual sticks. A hundred days after getting down to serious work on it, our aircraft with its Corvair engine
installation was complete. It made its public debut in the Zenith booth at Sun 'N Fun 2004. It was the first Corvair powered Zenith to fly.
Grace and I with our 601 XL at Sun 'N Fun 2006. In an industry dominated by here-today-gone-tomorrow limited liability corporations, our decades of service as
homebuilders stands as a complete contrast.
Our crew did an immense amount of hard work to promote the combination and get a number of aircraft flying quickly. In short order, both HD and HDS models belonging
to our customers were flying. In 2006, Phil Maxson's XL was completed in our shop and displayed at Sun 'N Fun. In 2007, Kit Planes writer Rick Lindstrom built
the first XL Quick Build Kit in our shop and did a seven-part series on the construction. Our own aircraft logged more than 420 hours and provided more than 120 people
with flight experience behind a Corvair.
An air to air photo we took of Phil Maxson's 601 XL over the Atlantic. In the years since 2006, Phil Maxson has logged a lot of time in the aircraft. He wrote
a Chapter for us in our 2009 Operations Manual. It's easy for any company to secure a testimonial from a customer whose aircraft is still under
construction; that is best understood as a hostage situation. The endorsements that really count come from the customers who remain impressed enough with your
work to promote it years later.
Dozens of Zeniths have been completed with our Conversion and Installation Components: Prop Hub, Premium Starter Kit,
Ignition System, Oil System and Oil Pan with Deep Sump Pickup,
Intake Manifold, Exhaust System, Cowling,
Nosebowl, Baffle Kit, Spinner Bulkhead, Warp Drive prop
and Motor Mount.
Their success stories are documented on our all-Zenith Web site, www.ZenVair.com. Our Zenith Installation
Manual covers the installation and operation of Corvairs on Zenith aircraft.
We have extensively tested a number of Corvair combinations on the airframe. Our personal ownership of our test aircraft afforded us the ability to try any
combination in pursuit of the flight tested knowledge to share with our builders. We were frequently told that our personal ownership of the same aircraft
was the single defining characteristic that earned the trust of builders. All alternative engine providers claim that their engine is the perfect match for your
airframe, but very few personally own and fly the combination they're willing to sell.
I stand with Chris Heintz, patriarch and designer of Zenith aircraft. Behind us is our Zenith 601 in their booth at Sun 'N Fun 2004. As an aeronautical
engineering student at Embry Riddle 15 years earlier, I had read the design texts written by many of the greatest light plane designers. Chris' lecture series had
been covered in EAA publications and represented some of the most clearcut and practical logic of any light aircraft designer. In 1989, it was hard to imagine that
I would one day stand in the company of the man himself.
We have long enjoyed a close relationship with the Heintz family. Our aircraft appeared in their booth at every Oshkosh and Sun 'N Fun for five years
in a row. We've held a Corvair College or Open House at every Zenith facility in North America. This is unprecedented cooperation between an alternative engine
provider and major kit manufacturer. The Corvair is the second most popular engine choice on a 601. It is far more popular in the U.S. than a Rotax installation.
Our Products Page shows the wide variety of parts and components we developed for this installation. We have personally flight tested them all. We've
personally flown behind displacements from 2,700 to 3,100 ccs, power outputs from 100 to 125 hp, and engines with and without fifth bearings. If you have
questions about a specific combination, e-mail us.
In the photo above taken at Oshkosh 2004, I explain the details of our ignition system to the Vice President and Chief Technician of Falcon Insurance. Having the aircraft in the
Zenith Aircraft Booth and being able to discuss every detail of the installation went a long way toward securing affordable insurance for Corvair powered aircraft.
By continuously working with Falcon, we earned their trust and with follow on actions like the Installation Manual we have secured the coveted endorsement of
Falcon as an insurable firewall forward package. Installations conforming to our guidelines secure the most favorable rates and easiest terms to meet. It comes as a
surprise to many builders that very few alternative engines are insurable.