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Mon, Apr 10, 2023

Sebastian Heintz Grants a Peek Under the Hood at Zenith

Sun 'n Fun Courses Once Again Provide New Insights into Aviation

Zenith Aircraft head Sebastian Heintz hosted a course at the Central Florida Aerospace Academy, going over some of the essentials of STOL aircraft design with interested attendees at Sun 'n Fun 2023.

The course was an interesting opportunity to pick the brain of one of the most competitive STOL marques around - Zenith is no stranger to a podium finish, in most competitions. Perhaps the prime takeaway was simplicity. Sebastian Heintz' father Chris designed the aircraft for a specific purpose, with a particular recipe well-suited to operation as an easily constructed, affordable, robust, short takeoff back country machine. When fielding questions from the audience, it becomes clear that shaking things up may not always be worth the trade off.

Heintz gave a basic rundown of all the great elements of the average Zenith Aircraft, pointing out the thought behind each element of the STOL CH 750's wing section he had with him. Leading edge slats, Junkers ailerons, and Hoerner wing tips were all subjected to the 'yeah, but what about...?' treatment from the airmen in attendance. It was enlightening - encouraging, even - to hear that the aircraft really doesn't need any extras to shine. Sure, hinged slats, vortex generators, and monster truck-sized tundra tires are all fun ways to spend a Saturday evening in the hangar -even get just a little more performance on the edges of the mission envelope, but Heintz assured that they're far from mandatory for a capable all-arounder. Just because an accessory exists doesn't always mean it's worthy of installation, it would seem.

The presentation is loosedly framed around thei old Christ Heintz piece entitled "Anatomy of a STOL Aircraft: Designing a modern short take-off and landing utility airplane", which closes with:

"As an aeronautical engineer, it’s easy for me to design a complicated aircraft, and much more challenging to design a simple one. For a kit aircraft to be successful, it must be relatively simple in terms of construction, assembly and systems: Not only is a simple design easier and more affordable to build, but it will be well-constructed by the amateur builder, as there will be less opportunity for errors or poor workmanship. With a simple design, building time will be lower, and less tools and skills will be needed to put the aircraft together, equating to much higher completion rates than complex projects, and once completed, the aircraft will be easier to operate and maintain. Simple systems maximize reliability, while minimizing pilot workload."



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