August 3, 2013 - It was done in eight days in 1976, but EAA members will have a chance to break that record in 2014.
Chris Heintz, along with a few experienced metal workers, built one of his two-place Zeniths in eight days during the 1976 EAA fly-in and convention. But in 2014, the goal is to have EAA visitors build and finish a Zenith CH 750 in seven days, said Charlie Becker, EAA director of communities and homebuilt community manager.
"You've heard of kissing booths?" he asked. "We plan to have a riveting booth where people can pull one rivet on the project. And with about 7,000 rivets in the airplane, that's about 7,000 different people who can be a part of this."
The idea for the project came out of a conversation about how to promote homebuilding, Becker said.
"We have some really cool stuff that shows up at AirVenture, but we don't know about it generally until the last minute, so we can't make a big deal about it. But with building a plane we can have something out front that will really promote homebuilding."
Becker said the homebuilding project would likely be placed on Celebration Way to attract as much attention as possible, while also showing just how much easier kits are to build today. People will also be able to watch the project transform from parts to a plane, while talking to "homebuilding ambassadors" who can speak about the building process and answer questions.
"The goal is to show people that with the kits today anyone who has the desire and who knows which end of the screwdriver to use can learn the skills they need to build an aircraft," Becker said.
Sebastien Heintz, president of Zenith Aircraft Co., agreed.
"This is an all-metal construction," he said. "There is no gluing, mixing compounds, or having to use special equipment. We want to show people just how easy it is."
In fact, most people have the tools they would need to build an airplane already at home, he said. There is no need to go out and buy expensive specialized tools.
"These are really homebuilt planes in that they can be built in your home workshop or garage," he said.
Heintz said it normally takes about 500 hours to finish the CH 750 kit. However, Heintz said he is confident it can be done within a week, and he's excited to be part of the project.
"The key is really getting as many people involved as possible," he said. "For people who have never built an airplane, this will show them how easy it can be. And if we can do it in seven days at AirVenture, they can do it in six months or a year at home."