Flying the Zenith CH 650 light sport aircraft

Flying the Zenith CH 650: Zenith Aircraft's Sebastien Heintz and Roger Dubbert go flying in the popular low-wing Zenith CH 650 to discuss upcoming events and the Zenith 600-series from aeronautical engineer Chris Heintz, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

The Zenith CH 650B: The affordable recreational kit airplane for the sport pilot: Enjoy leisure flights, with exceptional unrestricted visibility, operate from grass strips, make round trips of several hundred miles in a single day, or take your partner for a local pleasure flight, or to a far-off destination!

The Zenith CH 650B is a second generation light sport aircraft, developed specifically for Sport Pilots. It is the latest model in the Zodiac line of aircraft from aeronautical engineer Chris Heintz, first introduced in 1984. This newest model offers new and updated features including modern new styling with a larger cabin area. Some of the Zenith’s features include a stronger airframe, more engine choices, a new swept back tail design, an all new canopy system with more headroom, improved ventilation, better visibility and added roll-over protection.

Based on the Zodiac CH 601 XL model introduced in 2001, the Zenith CH 650B has been developed specifically to meet the FAA’s Sport Pilot / Light-Sport Aircraft category, and offers maximum performance and capability possible under the new FAA category. With new and updated features and modern styling, the Zenith CH 650 replaces the Zodiac XL model.

The handling characteristics of the Zenith CH650B are very good and quite similar to the previous ZODIAC models, with just slightly higher roll control forces (this was predictably the result of a larger chord aileron). The new airfoil section is thinner than previous ZODIAC models, and was chosen for reduced drag (higher top end speed). Wing flaps were added to minimize stall speed with the new lower-drag airfoil. Following flight testing of the prototype ZODIAC XL by designer Chris Heintz, aircraft stability within the useful center of gravity (CG) range was found to be very satisfactory, and incipient spin tests did not show any tendencies toward a flat spin. Spin recovery is conventional and fast.

Throughout, construction of the Zenith CH 650B kit aircraft is ‘modular’ – each section of the aircraft is built separately on the workbench. Many builders thus choose to buy ‘component kits,’ purchasing kit sections as they progress through the project. The modular construction of the kit means that required workshop space is minimal – most builders construct the kit in a single-car garage or basement workshop.

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