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Chapter Project Hot Topic at Zenith Open Hangar Days

By Charlie Becker

October 2016 - A record turnout was on hand for Zenith Aircraft’s 25th annual Open Hangar Days, and EAA’s One Week Wonder, Zenith CH 750, was there as well, flown in by me.

The two-day event had more than 500 people in attendance, more than a dozen aircraft parts suppliers, and a number of forums and workshops. A hot topic during the event was group aircraft building projects.

Sebastien Heintz of Zenith Aircraft hosted a well-attended forum: Build an Airplane as a Group Project. This forum provided an opportunity to discuss the ups and downs of group builds. Along with Sebastien, I spoke of EAA’s support of the concept, highlighted the availability of EAA’s Flying Club Manual, and explained how chapters can pull this off successfully.

Roger Venables of Chapter 84 in Snohomish, Washington, shared what his chapter has learned about group building during the construction of a Zenith 650. Chapter 84 was one of the lucky chapters that received a set of EAA Give Flight wings built during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015. Give Flight was conceived as a way to jump start five chapter group build projects that would ultimately lead to new flying clubs. Expect to see these aircraft on display at AirVenture 2017.

Dave Doherty, president of EAA Chapter 32 in St. Louis, shared his story of a successful group build that they just recently completed. In fact, to prove his point, he flew the aircraft in for the fly-in to show off.

Group building projects are not for every chapter, but many chapters have used them successfully to share EAA’s core values of Learn, Build, Fly. I was pleased to see some real interest in this idea as a way to make flying more affordable.

EAA’s display featured the One Week Wonder, which was built during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2014 by more than 2,500 volunteers, sporting its newly completed paint job. The final vinyl stripes were added the day before departure by EAA’s Jeff Benedict. The aircraft was painted by EAA safety programs coordinator Tracy Buttles.

What’s more, thanks to volunteer Edi Bickford, the name of every person who signed the World’s Largest Builders Log is now included on the vinyl striping. Edi spent five days during AirVenture Oshkosh 2016 typing each name from the log into a spreadsheet. EAA worked with Scheme Designers to come up with a way to retain the community-build aspect of the aircraft by incorporating everyone’s name in the striping.

Bickford said, “I love it when people start searching the aircraft for their name. It lets me know that they are proud to have been a builder of the aircraft.”

Special thanks to EAA volunteers Harold and Edi Bickford of Chapter 569 in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Doug MacDonald for helping staff the EAA table and answering questions about the One Week Wonder.

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