"The Wheels On My Plane Go Up and Down"

[Paul Gabehart, of Campbellsville, Kentucky, sent us this "builder report" on the day he received his FAA airworthiness certificate, which was just 7 months, 3 weeks from the date he picked up the kit at the factory and attended the hands-on Zenith rudder workshop class. He modestly says "I really did not intend on building in what I understand is a short time. I found building was like drinking a milkshake: Taking your time can be a challenge when it tastes so so good."]



The Wheels On My Plane Go Up and Down
by Paul Gabegart


If ever a person lives and dies without achieving their dreams, the fault is squarely on that person alone. Like many other children, I dreamt of flying, but I also dreamt of building an airplane to fly. At about age 4 I transferred my bicycle training wheels to a wooden airplane I fashioned out of scrap lumber and painted it with old paint that was in the garage. Through the years I built a number of model airplanes and pondered my dream of flying. Girls, cars and work took hold of my thoughts for many years, with work ruling eventually in my need to be successful in life.

With hard work and dedication I became successful, but with that all in the books I still had that drive to fly and ambition to build. A family member, Larry Burton, watered that seed a few years back by introducing me to powered parachutes. However, I was not willing to settle with just the flying part of my dream without the building of an airplane.

[Above, Paul gets started at the hands-on Zenith factory workshop]

My first contact with Zenith was the sweet voice of Joyce Fort. Joyce was very informative and so so nice that I knew when I got off the phone with her that Zenith was my airplane. Zenith further impressed me in the workshop with the country friendliness I so love and knowledge of building aircraft all around me.


[Above, Paul waves proudly with his completed rudder assembly next to the STOL CH 750 Super Duty at the December 2019 hands-on factory workshop]

The people I shared the workshop with were from all over, with backgrounds of every kind. Even if I had not brought a kit home with me it would have still been a life changing event, but I did bring home that kit. I started on it and could not stop. Anytime I ran into difficulty, Roger Dubbert was there to set my course and I popped another 100, 200, 500 rivets. The kit was so well engineered I had few issues for sure.


[Above, Paul (at center) studies the photo assembly guides as he assembles the STOL CH 750 rudder kit at the Zenith factory workshop]


I figured that keeping it as simple as I could would help me achieve my goals, and it did. I did not try to build a fancy dash with autopilot and expensive navigation. I did not try to outdo any plane I had seen or be the best builder that lived. The only person that needed to be happy with the end product was myself.

The engine was one of the ways I simplified the process. After what ended up being a short investigation process it was obvious what engine was right for me. Viking and their Honda auto conversation was a no brainer, being my first car was a 1976 Honda Civic which was impossible to kill. The cost was less and the install seemed to be much more along my skill set. I found out in time that Jan Eggenfellner and Alissa Daniel were incredible at their job of supplying, supporting and generally guiding builders through the harder part of building a plane. Whenever I would feel as though I were asking a question I should know the answer to, Alissa would say “No worries” then get me the info or part I needed.

Today, I spent time with Jim Auman, a DAR from Tennessee, who expertly walked me through the confusing airworthiness process in record time. He was most impressive in his knowledge of aircraft and FAA rules and procedures. After several hours his job was done, and yes, I now have an airworthy airplane that I built. She is beautiful; she is what I dreamed of, what I hoped for; she is my airplane.

Now, thanks to so many wonderful people and a lot of hard work I have completed a childhood dream in full color. By the time you read this, the wheels on my beautiful Zenith 750 STOL, powered by a Viking 130 and painted red and white, will have had its wheels go up and down many times. May you find and achieve all your dreams. If it’s airplanes we are buddies for sure.

Paul Gabehart, Campbellsville, Kentucky

[ Paul tells us he plans to fly his completed aircraft to the 29th annual Zenith Homecoming and Open Hangar Days on September 18 & 19, 2020, at the Zenith Aircraft factory. ]


Like many other successful Zenith Aircraft kit builders, Paul got started on his STOL CH 750 at the hands-on Zenith workshop. Check out the additional photos from the December 2019 workshop where Paul built the rudder tail section of his CH 750 at the Zenith factory in Mexico, Missouri.


[Above, Paul (at center) studies the photo assembly guides as he assembles the STOL CH 750 rudder kit at the Zenith factory workshop]

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Comment by Bill Carter on February 3, 2022 at 10:13pm

What a great life story and attitude. I hope that it will be contagious to everyone who hasn't experienced that yet.

It makes me consider starting up my builder assist service again in order to help others achieve their dreams.

All the best to you Paul.

Comment by Hermann Pais on August 17, 2020 at 4:16pm

Great job, and beautiful airplane, congrats!

Comment by Daniel Niendorff on August 13, 2020 at 11:51am

Well done on the airplane.  Your write up is a standout..... You said so well what motivates so many of us.

Comment by William Fahey on August 13, 2020 at 10:06am

Great blog.  Enjoyed every word and concur with your outlook on the plane.

Comment by Marshall Lowry on August 13, 2020 at 9:40am

Great Job! - Let's hope to see more builds this year completed. 

Comment by David Roberts on August 13, 2020 at 9:15am

Great job on the build

Comment by Skip Rhudy on August 13, 2020 at 8:44am

Great job Paul. See you on the flightline! (someday lol)

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