Three-Hour Rudder

zenith-super-duty-rudder-kit-1

The trapezoidal box arrived from Mexico (Missouri) a few weeks ago, but we just recently had the time to open it up and begin looking at the parts for a Zenith 740 SuperDuty rudder. Three hours later- we didn't have a kit, we had a rudder! Yup - it really was that easy. From the pre-punched, match-holed parts to the included pneumatic squeezer with custom-machined nose-pieces, the kit was as complete as they come, and easy to assemble. All we had to add were a couple of handfuls of clecos and cleco pliers. Sebastien Heintz, owner, president, and chief bottle washer of Zenith, wanted us to experience the level of engineering that is going into the latest kits from his company, and I was happy to get a chance to see how they go together. Continue reading "Three-Hour Rudder"

What Do You Suppose...

mystery delivery by UPS from Zenith Aircraft

Now what do you suppose is in such an odd-shaped box? I figure that UPS and FeedEx drivers (not to mention the long-suffering local mail carriers) have given up trying to guess what shows up with such frequency at homebuilder's houses across the globe. Especially when you reach than final few percent before final inspection, you'll be placing orders for fittings, nuts, screws, and what-knots several times a week - and they all show up at the door or mailbox these days. Continue reading "What Do You Suppose..."

Awww Nuts!

The picture sort of speaks for itself, doesn't it? A long-ago completed stabilizer for our Xenos motor glider project, carefully stored in the hangar was recently abused by some workers we had bumbling around unsupervised. The good news is that this dent isn't a concern structurally. The bad news is that I don't think it is going be covered by fiberglass fairing like it would be on an RV. Such are the problems of long-term airplane building - completed assemblies can sit for a long time before being used in the final airplane, and the chances of damage due to storage accidents, corrosion, or the simple effects of entropy can take their toll. Continue reading "Awww Nuts!"

Build it Better

Kitplanes - Build it BetterA few years back, before I took over the helm of Kitplanes, I wrote a series of articles that stemmed from a talk I was giving around the country entitled "Lessons from Mission Control." The gist of the material is that we learned many things about flying humans in space in experimental machines in my years (and my predecessors years) in NASA's human spaceflight program, and many of those lessons are directly applicable to what we do in Experimental aviation. Building a bridge and cross-pollinating those lessons can save time, money—and most importantly, lives. Continue reading "Build it Better"

Getting a Grip

Cockpit ergonomics are a big deal to me – and they are a slippery problem. I spent much of a career helping designers refine designs for man-machine interfaces, and part of the problem we had is that everyone had different opinions of what was “good.” And given the wide variety of people – both in size and shape as well as the way they think – coming up with good solutions was never easy. Continue reading "Getting a Grip"