Zenith brings together family of plane lovers

By ALAN DALE Managing Editor
Posted 9/24/22

Once again, it appears that the annual Zenith Homecoming/Open Hangar Days & Fly-In event was a big hit.

A nice contingent of Zenith Aircraft customers and DIY plane builders joined up at the …

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Zenith brings together family of plane lovers


Once again, it appears that the annual Zenith Homecoming/Open Hangar Days & Fly-In event was a big hit.

A nice contingent of Zenith Aircraft customers and DIY plane builders joined up at the Mexico Memorial Airport over the past weekend as people from all over the country came together.

About 500 people attended the event and approximately 40 Zenith aircraft from all over the country flew in for the event.

“We had a record number of Zenith aircraft flown in, including several that were truly spectacular examples, with outstanding workmanship,” Sebastien Heintz of Zenith said. “For the first time, we hosted a women’s only workshop, to show women that they too can not only pilot aircraft but also build their own kit aircraft. The workshop was well-attended, and the participants loved it.

“Sylvia Jestice, 16, flew her Zenith in from northern Arkansas by herself and then her and her three siblings, who are also pilots, played bluegrass and folk music both nights.”

Tyler Aguillard of eastern Tennessee, a Zenith customer who is building himself a Zenith aircraft, proposed to his now-fiancée, Audrey Pulse, at the Zenith Homecoming.

“Overall, it was an excellent event,” Heintz said. “We were blessed with great weather and good attendance and really could not have asked for a better event to celebrate our 30th anniversary.”

Plenty of visitors echoed those sentiments.

“I am wanting to build a plane – we built the rudder so that was fun,” Donna Holman of Orangeburg, South Carolina, said, as she and her husband are waiting for most of their parts are shipped. “We’ve wanted to do this for six months. We had a Cessna and had  an unfortunate incident, so we are going to build another plane.

“This show is amazing. It is one of the most informative and interesting gatherings I would say. It is very specific to home building and Zenith. There are so many ideas and different builds. I’ve been getting a lot of ideas and their takes on different engines.”

This was Holman’s first trip to the homecoming.

On Friday, educational seminars took place throughout the day featuring various airframe - the aircraft fuselage, wings and tail - engine, avionics seminars - with suppliers like Lycoming engines, Dynon Avionics, UL Power, Garmin, Continental and more participating.

There was also the Zenith Aircraft banquet.

The next day featured a number of tours of the Zenith Aircraft kit production facilities, an aircraft show, seminars on kit construction and maintenance and other flying demonstrations.

Jamie Boudreau of Manteno, Illinois, has been working on his own plane for a little over a year now.

“We are building a Zenith aircraft right now and this is our second year at their homecoming,” Boudreau said. “We figured we’d come out and see the people and the planes. I like it – it’s a little smaller and more personal. It’s geared toward the Zenith aircraft. I hope to fly mine back here someday.

“I like the seminars that are going on and there is generally a good turnout of aircraft.”

Bob Clarke of Chapter 32 of the Spirit of St. Louis, an exhibition aircraft association, said he loves to keep coming back to the Zenith Homecoming.
He currently has two experimental aircraft and has been involved since 1987.

“You see what everyone else has done, see new ideas and products and meet up with old friends,” Clarke said. “Everybody who is interested in these things come back. We’re just a big family. We don’t come together and eat food and look at each other’s airplanes: It’s a lot of good friends.”

Now it’s onward and upward for future Hangar Days.

We will continue to host these annual Homecoming fly-in events on the third weekend every September, bringing hundreds to Mexico from around the country,” Heintz said. “We announced for the first time publicly at the event, we are planning to form a Zenith Foundation - educational non-profit organization - to help us continue to promote sport aviation and kit aircraft building as an educational endeavor to youth and others that may not typically be able to participate in aviation, and also to help preserve the heritage of historical Zenith aircraft.”