ZODIAC CH 601 Series Kit Plane




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Jack Russell's ZODIAC XL

"My project flew in May 2006 and it flew straight and fast. I have been seeing 145 mph at full power with a Jabiru 3300. I have never built a plane before and I don't think that all companies are as supportive as yours: You have been there for every little problem that I have encountered. Nick has answered all my questions and kept me on the path to success. I am pretty proud of my little red bird and want to thank you for a design that was easy to build and fun to fly."
  • Jack Russell, Clovis, Calif.

"It flew flawlessly. I think the hardest part of the building process was the anticipation of completion so I could fly for the first time. Factory support was excellent..."
  • B.J. Ramsey, Springfield, Illinois (excerpted from EAA Sport Pilot magazine, June 2006)..


"I had a great time building [my ZODIAC XL], and now I'm into the great time flying phase. Many thanks to Zenith Aircraft for the help, and the GREAT support over the course of my building (500 hours for airframe, ~700 total, including panel, interior, firewall forward)."
  • Lance Gingell, California

"This is N7444Z, my Zodiac CH 601 HDS with a Rotax 912UL and GSC three-blade prop. Construction time was about 750 hours with excellent support from the factory. First flight was August 2000 and I now have more than 110 hours on the tach.  This aircraft is everything Chris Heintz claimed it would be: very docile and safe.  At age 78, I'm really enjoying the flying - especially of many Young Eagles!"
  • W.R. "Buzz" Stephenson, Grayling, Michigan (excerpted from EAA Sport Aviation magazine, February 2002).

Ed McDiarmid's ZODIAC XL. June 2006

"... yesterday I successfully flew my new Zodiac XL for the first time... the plane handled beautifully. Thank you for all your help and encouragement. It seemed that anything I needed was sent right away and they were always pleasant to deal with. Note the grin in the picture has not yet gone away."
  • Ed McDiarmid, Oshawa, Ontario

I started the Zodiac 601 HDS in December of 1999 from components purchased from Zenith Aircraft. It was a rewarding experience using all my construction, mechanical and electronic skills to produce the Zodiac. It was built in our two car garage over the next 3 years. It has the Rotax 912 engine and has a full IFR panel along with an EIS and a GPS.
  • David Brough, Gilbert, AZ

zodiacthoma.jpg (30125 bytes)

The first flight of my Zenair Zodiac CH601HDS was on May 12, 2003, and three months later I have 115 hours on the plane, including flying from Oregon to AirVenture 2003 and back. I'm having a great time flying my Zodiac.
  • Roy Thoma, Hillsboro, OR

You have a great kit... I'm buying more than just a box full of parts. I'm particularly pleased with this project because, from talking to other builders, I'll be flying while they're still building. I'm not a mechanic, I'm a pilot.
I couldn't imagine better support from the factory - it is a pleasure working with you.

  • ZODIAC CH 601 HDS kit builder Sunny B. of Littleton, Colorado

I received my 601 HD kit on July 20, 2001 and flew it officially for the first time today. I built this aircraft in seventeen weeks. This was actually about 650 hours. Five hours each week day and about fourteen hours each day of a weekend. I built the engine, engine mount and cowls whilst I was waiting for the kit to arrive from the U.S.
  • Beven Dryden, Zodiac CH 601 HD builder in Brisbane, Australia


My CH 601 HD was reworked into a Super ZODIAC CH 601 HDS over the winter. Flight characteristics are much the same as before except everything is faster.  It had 500 hours on it as an HD and now has another 100+ hours as an HDS.
  • Mike Fothergill, Keswick, ON

Completed tail sections and outboard wings. Started building 1/15/99, working on center wing, hope to fly by end of summer '99. I'm having a great time - almost wishing the experience would last longer, yet anxious to fly. Great design & parts, excellent support from fine (and patient) people all around.

  • ZODIAC CH 601 HD builder Brent Battles of Ashville, NC.

The instructions are very good and the kit parts are excellent - to exact dimensions. As a retired engineer, the kit provides an excellent hobby and challenge.

  • ZODIAC kit builder Vernon Lewis of Zionsville, Indiana

Our ZODIAC CH 601 HDS, N61PG, was started in September of 1998 and completed in August 1999. From the first flight on the bird has flown great.
Our thanks to Zenith Aircraft for a great kit and excellent technical support.
  • G.H., Mexico, Missouri (excerpted from EAA Sport Aviation 5/00)

This is a picture of my Zenith CH 300 built in 1983 with over 800 hours flying time - have made a cross-Canada flight; flown to Oshkosh 11 times, twice to Sun'n Fun, and lots of beautiful flights around the country. The ZODIAC CH 601 was built by some members of our EAA chapter in Saguenay, Quebec.
The engine is a Lycoming O-235, 115 hp.  We made custom canopies on both.  We are very happy with our aircraft and look forward to more happy flying.  Bravo to Chris Heintz for super aircraft designs.
  • Yvon Tremblay, Jonquiere, Quebec

I took delivery of my Super ZODIAC CH601 HDS in November 1995 after checking out my alternatives at Oshkosh'95.   First flight was 2-1/2 years later on June 23, 1998. Power is an NSI Subaru conversion.


This was my first project, the kit was straight forward and my single query to the factory was answered promptly. I now have 45 hours on the aircraft and as a low time pilot I have been pleased with the flying characteristics and performance flying from my home field which is 4,000 ft. msl.
  • Alan Newell, Calgary, Alberta, Canada (excerpted from EAA Sport Aviation 4/99)

We bought the kit in December 1996, and finished it in May 1998. We had no problems building the kit, and now we have over 60 hours on our ZODIAC!
  • Karl Bauml, of Heuhlingen, Germany (9/98)

It is a great design, and was really no trouble to build (in about 450 hrs.) It was my first effort. I tell you, it is the most fun I have ever had with my clothes on !!! and now I have about 55 hours on mine. DO IT!!!!!!  Very enjoyable building... kit was excellent and support was good.
  • ZODIAC CH 601 HD kit-builder Patrick Walsh, Pottsboro, Texas

It took three years to complete this project [built from plans-only].  Power is from an 85-hp Continental engine.  The factory help was good. It is a very responsive aircraft, and it flies great.
  • Marion Williamson and Lenard Sandloop, Chesapeake, VA (excerpted from Kitplanes 9/98)

Flying your factory demonstrator, I found the aircraft to be responsive and a real pleasure to fly. I look forward to completing and flying mine.  So far, I've found construction to be easy.

  • ZODIAC kit builder Marvin Euchner of Flower Mound, Texas

I passed the airworthiness inspection on 7 Sept 2000 and experienced the 1st flight on 8 Sept 2000. My theory was to finish the project with only what was legally needed to safely fly day VFR. The aircraft is prop start, no electrical system or lights and I use a handheld radio. I was able to complete the project in about 550 hrs in 44 months for about $5500 (mucho scrounging). I consider this airplane one of the greatest accomplishments in my life.
  • Gregory D. Crow, Readiness NCO, Company A 3/147 AVN
    (Plans-built Super ZODIAC with a Continental engine).

In November of 2000 we were airborne after taking 26 months to build our Zodiac. We built it from scratch and not from a kit. It went together without any problems, and in fact was a very enjoyable experience.  It currently has about 80 hours on it.
  • Robert and Russell Hayes, Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa.

Wow! I didn't even know that you could legally build your own airplane, until I picked up a copy of Popular Mechanics, 8/1997. In that issue, Popular Mechanics builds their own Super Zodiac. I dreamed of doing this when I was a kid. In May 2000, after convincing my wife that I wasn't insane, I decided that I was going to make that dream come true. It's taken me 3 years and 3 months. Finally, I'm ready for the Airworthiness Inspection. My Zodiac is powered by a Great Plains 2180 VW conversion with a 1.6: 1 PRSU driving a 67-inch PowerFin Prop. 
  • Randall Stout, San Antonio, Texas

I have already enjoyed 50 hours of cross-country flying in my ZODIAC.  It took me a year and 4 months to complete the project.  I am very proud of my airplane.  It is beautiful to look at and a delight to fly.
Support from the factory was great.

  • ZODIAC CH 601 HDS kit builder Henrique Anes Goncalves (Portugal)

My wife and I very much enjoyed seeing the "troops" at your display area at Oshkosh. The dinner was a great opportunity for all of us to get together. It is a most welcome, enjoyable event. It was a great addition to our experience. It is a personal touch that is missed by most manufacturers.
  • Wayne Beattie, Connecticut, Super ZODIAC N601WB, 100 hours and enjoying every minute.

I'm only a month or so into the project but this is one of the most exciting experiences I've ever done! I've built and/or helped build several homes and this is very similar to a project of the same magnitude. If you do plan to build your own plane, this is by far the best kit plane on the market - especially for a first time builder. Relatively; quick to build, low cost, easy - all metal / blind rivets, great performance, and great support - both factory and builders.
If possible, visit the factory in Mexico, Missouri or find some with a Zodiac you can take a demo ride in, even if you have to pay. I was sold within the first thousand feet while climbing out of Mexico airport - what a thrill! - Jim

"...I enjoyed the building and flight testing process so much, I'm thinking of selling it and building another."
  • Lou Antonacci, Hampshire, IL (excerpted from EAA Sport Aviation 10/2000)

The drawings and manuals are better than most others I've seen. The quality of the kit is very good compared to other kits, and the construction is easier than I am making it - I tend to make it more complicated than it is. I like the simplicity of your kit.
Flying the aircraft: "impressed with the handling, and felt right at home in it."

  • Super ZODIAC CH 601 HDS kit builder Bert Wills, Fallbrook, California:


This is my recently completed ZODIAC CH 601 HDS, otherwise known to my wife as "The Obsession" just because I spent 7 1/2 months building this aircraft while also getting my pilot's license.  I don't understand why she calls it an obsession.
  • Terry Hesler, Kettering, OH (excerpted from EAA Sport Aviation 6/98)

The drawings are particularly good, and the quality of the kit is good... it has been a lot of fun to build, almost addictive. The simplicity of the design and the lack of special tools has contributed to this... the simplest kit to build on the market ...a good trainer for my children.

  • Super ZODIAC kit builder Brian Roach of Woodland, Calif:


This is my ZODIAC CH 601 HDS taildragger which was completeted after 14 months building time. First flew on June 1, 1999 and it flew great ...powered by a Continental C-85 ...full gyro panel ...leading edge fuel tanks.
  • Ken Lennox, Fruitland, MD (excerpted from EAA Sport Aviation 1/2000)

Calls to the factory with questions have been very friendly, prompt, and helpful. I chose to build this aircraft because it's nice looking, performs well, and all-metal construction.

  • Super ZODIAC CH 601 HDS plans-builder David Allen, Charlotte, NC

I'm very happy with the flight characteristics - very gentle. Seems to fly much like a Cherokee.  Great design. Thanks for all your help.
  • A Gluff, Franklin, IN (plans-built ZODIAC).

I chose to build this airplane because I wanted an all-metal airplane that would be easy to build, and have a long life. The quality of the kit and instructions are excellent, as well as the factory support. My time is spent building, and not de-ciphering the plans.

  • ZODIAC CH 601 HD kit builder Richard Kissel of McIntyre, Pennsylvania

This is my second home built, the first was an Avid. My build time was about 700 hours. I have a near IFR panel and was still able to complete it in aproximately 700 hours. As far as the quality of the kit, it was outstanding. Great people to do business with!  You will not be disappointed with Zenith, great people.
The kit came from the factory on the exact day that it was promised, and it was a pleasure to assemble.  The factory was extremely helpful with our questions. We chose an NSI EA-81 engine. 
  • Don and Linda Woodley, Independence, Oregon

The kit and parts are excellent, and were adequately crated and packed to ensure safe delivery. I am confident that Zenith will be there to back me up when I need advice and materials - my questions have always been answered immediately with no delay. I am very pleased and enthusiastic ...allows me to construct a quality, well performing aircraft on my own with normal shop skills and tools. I watched one being built at Sun'n Fun, and what decided me on this kit was the airshow attendees' comments about the plane's attractiveness.

  • ZODIAC CH 601 HD kit builder Randy Vanselow, Mars Hill, NC

"I completed my Zenith Zodiac 601HD with Rotax 912 over a one-year period and 1,100 hours of work including many modifications, avionics, upholstery, and paint - all done by me for the first time. The airplane is a delight to fly, but I really miss the building! I can't recommend the experience more highly: Great design, great support at Zenith, and for me the perfect mix of structural integrity, simplicity, and freedom to innovate." ZODIAC CH 601 HD
  • ZODIAC CH 601 HD builder Brent Battles (North Carolina)

"I chose to build this aircraft because of the good performance, ease of construction and the affordable price. The kit and factory support have been excellent."
Flying the ZODIAC: "Yippee!"

  • Super ZODIAC kit builder John Shufflebarger, Lakeland, Florida

One of the reasons I chose to build the ZODIAC was because Zenith Aircraft was the only kit manufacturer I talked to that would really spend time talking to potential customers at Oshkosh. The others all seemed indifferent until you got out your checkbook

  • ZODIAC plans-builder Dave Brehm of Altoona, Wisconsin

We started to dream our Zenair 601 UL project two years ago and we completed it within six months. We have built the "White Bird" from the drawings. It's powered by a Verner 1400 engine (76 Kg - 80HP !!!). We have spent more than 100 delightful hours in the air. We feel that the performance is excellent. I love flying and aerial photography. 

  • ZODIAC plans-builder Huba BAJUSZ, Szeged, Hungary

The project was scratch built from
plans purchased in 1995. Construction took 5 years, and was thoroughly enjoyable,
enabling me to try many new techniques.
  • Martin Poettcker, Kanata, Ontario

"I'm building the ZODIAC because it met all the parameters I was looking for: speed, high useful load, wide and comfortable cabin. Support is very good and the kit is excellent"
Flying the ZODIAC: "Awesome!!!"

  • ZODIAC builder Dr. F. Thomalla, Louisiana, MO

I now have 80 hours on the hobbs meter and am really enjoying flying the plane. You have designed a very nice plane. I do like it!
  • Jim Weston, McDonough, Ga.

...Chris Heintz is a top designer. I like the simplicity and safety aspects of the design and the aluminum construction. The Zenair newsletter is good - I read each issue completely.

  • ZODIAC CH 601 HD builder Gene Hitney of Chino Valley, Arizona

My third homebuilt, a ZODIAC CH 601 HD, was certified November 18, 1996, exactly 18 months after drilling the first hole. It could have gone faster but I savored the building process.

Jim Hoak's ZODIAC CH 601 HD

The kit was complete and factory support was good. It is powered by a Rotax 912 whih has now operated flawlessly for 115 hours.  Performance is as advertised. My grandhildren picked the colors and helped in the layout - now they fight over who gets to fly with 'Paw'.
  • Jim Hoak, Stockbridge, GA (excerpted from EAA Sport Aviation 9/98)

Let me congratulate you for doing a superb job on the CH 601 drawings and kit design.  The whole project thus far has been a fabulous experience, for which I thank you.

  • ZODIAC CH 601 builder Carlo Dimambro of Sutton, Ontario

My wife and I enjoyed meeting you and your employees when we visited your plant on 18 March to pick up my airframe kit. We were both impressed with your operation at Zenith Aircraft and the friendly welcome we received. Linda gave us a first class tour and every employee we talked with was great. Roger was most helpful in aiding me in loading the kit into my truck and Travis did a first class job of making the desired modification on the wing tanks.
Kind of odd that I had purchased a Zenith aircraft, but had never flown in one. Thus we both enjoyed the demo flight and it reinforced my belief that I had purchased the right experimental aircraft.

  • ZODIAC builder Bob Wiley, Arkansas


The above are selected and condensed responses from builder letters, builder surveys and other sources. The information published above may not be representative of all builders' aircraft building and flying experiences.


"Chris Heintz, Zenair’s engineer extraordinaire, worked for Aerospatiale on the Concorde. Need we say anything more? Well, we will anyway. The sport sleek-looking Zodiac’s bubble canopy offers the pilot and passenger excellent visibility. Lack of visibility is not something that Zodiac flyers are ever going to have to complain about; it’s the perfect bird in which to take a friend flying.

"While the straight-wing ZODIAC CH 601 and CH 601 HD (Rotax 912) are docile and pleasing flyers, the new tapered wing CH 601 HDS has a rowdy and speedier persona to go with its racier looks.

"First of all, let me tell you this... for some strange reason, the mild mannered little 601 has always been a favorite of mine, and I’ve flown a half dozen variations of this thing... always with a relaxed and silly grin. It’s sweet, docile, fun and so cute that Zenith should include a leash with every kit...

"I have found that these birds can meet or exceed most if not all of Zenith’s claims...the CH 601’s definitely will cruise at 120 mph, but flat out, don’t be surprised to see a solid 140 mph. It climbs at 1200 fpm, but I’ve seen much better with a pretty full load. The CH 601 can levitate off the deck in 400 ft and get back down in 438 ft... I’ve done under 300 ft. Service ceiling is 16,000, but sorry, I didn’t bother to test that one.

"Top speed is well over 135 mph for the CH 601 HD model, and the beast will motor down the pike at least 380 miles on the standard 16 gallon tank... and up to 780 miles with the optional 30-gallon fuel supply. Take-offs and landings require but 450 ft. apiece. Full tilt, the 80-hp ZODIAC CH 601 HDS will push 150 mph without too much trouble, although it seems quite comfortable cruising in the 135 mph range. Yes, I checked this against a few local section lines. This thing is fast.

"The ZODIACs offer excellent low speed behavior, with superb stall warning and recovery. The stability and control profile is lightly positive...and the machine responds well without the slightest hint of overt sensitivity. Best of all, you can count on lots of happy flying without driving/flying yourself to bankruptcy.

"These are very sweet flyers ...ideal combination of economy, speed, and mild handling - even in the taildragger configuration. The 601-HDS is a rowdy little beast and we enjoyed it immensely... an undemanding little flyer that offers it all. It’s fast, obedient, and the taildragger version is child’s play... even with a 12-kt cross-wind that was threatening to hit 20 kts. Very highly recommended! We want one!"

  • Reprinted from US AVIATOR magazine, "TOP 50: Best Affordable Two-Seat Kits of ‘95," (June 1995), and SportPlane Resource Guide (1995).


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Zenith Aircraft Company: 2014-09-10