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Zenith-Based Homebuilt Looks Old-School

Mark Phillips’ Elixir draws from vintage airplanes

By Ti Windisch, EAA Staff Writer

July 23, 2018 - Mark Phillips, EAA 496947, did not change much about the overall flight characteristics of his Elixir, which is based on a Zenith CH-701 kit. He did change just about everything else about it, though.

Elixir is registered as a model 701.1, serial No. 1 (and only). It first flew in April 2018, and Mark was excited to bring it to Oshkosh for the first time after his trip to the 1995 fly-in convention first inspired him to pursue aviation and become a pilot.

Ten years after his first visit Mark brought his first homebuilt back to Oshkosh, a Van’s RV-6A. That airplane, named Mojo¸ contained some tweaks from the original design as well. Mark calls them bouts of “deviant behavior.”

For his second project, Mark decided to go with an airframe he’d previously had a great experience in during his time working for Jabiru Aircraft.

“The most fun I’d ever had on a flying machine was my first flight in a Zenith 701 with the doors off,” Mark said. “The folks at Jabiru had built it to develop a firewall forward package for their 2200 engines. They said they could hear me laughing out loud as I flew over the hangar. I’d never flew anything like it before in my life. That’s why this is here.”

The basic airframe of the Zenith is still there, although plenty of changes are easily observable. There’s a faux-radiator on the front of the cowl, the panel is all-wooden with a solid birds eye maple stick, and a completely-custom nosewheel can be found underneath.

Mark did as much of the work himself as he could, including engraving the wood and metal in most sections aside from the stenciled “Experimental” above each door. The inspiration for a lot of his changes came from his last few trips to Oshkosh, when he discovered a love for vintage airplanes such as the Stinson Reliant.

Elixir contains almost entirely wood and metal parts in an effort to replicate the feel of an airplane from 80-plus years ago. Still, although the appreciation for the vintage airplanes is clearly there, Mark said he’s well aware this is different than those airplanes.

"I just love those ’30s airplanes,” Mark said. “Call it an homage. It’s not the same; I won’t even begin to say this is anything like those.”
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