Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on KITPLANES.com.
Zenith Aircraft Company hosted its 32nd annual Homecoming fly-in and open hangar days on September 15 & 16 at its factory located at Mexico Memorial Airport (KMYJ) in Mexico, Missouri. Zenith builders and fliers from around the country flew into the Homecoming, one of the largest of its kind in the nation. Organizers proclaimed the 2023 event as the “best one yet” and thanked everyone who visited and participated.
The grassroots event provided both educational and fun activities for all visitors, made up primarily of Zenith builders, owners, and pilots, as well as future builders, and pilots, and enthusiasts.
Highlights included hands-on workshops, seminars, and panel discussions where experts, as well as Zenith builders and flyers, shared their experiences. The Zenith Homecoming celebrates Zenith builders and flyers, and they came out in force once again, with several dozen flying into the event from around the country in their beautifully finished Zenith kit aircraft.
The educational seminars and hands-on workshops kept visitors busy throughout the day, learning about building and flying kit aircraft. Back by popular demand, volunteers hosted a women’s-only workshop to introduce women to kit aircraft building. Visitors toured the modern Zenith Aircraft kit production facilities (including a sneak-peak at the major expansion currently underway at the Zenith factory) to see and to learn how the all-metal aircraft kit parts are fabricated, while Zenith Aircraft staff and volunteers demonstrated the ease of the kit assembly with modern final hole size match-drilled parts.
The late summer/early fall weather allowed for outdoor socializing and dining, with record attendance at the evening dinner events, held outdoors on the ramp in front of the factory and surrounded by aircraft.
Select suppliers and vendors (who supply products and services needed to finish and fly kit aircraft) were invited to participate once again at the Zenith Homecoming, meeting with new and existing Zenith aircraft builders, owners and pilots, and sharing information about their services and products. Long time sponsors, such as Aircraft Spruce & Specialty, have continued to support the Zenith Homecoming event year after year, and suppliers and sponsors offered great prizes that were awarded to lucky visitors.
Area EAA Chapter 944 provided a hot breakfast of pancake and sausages both mornings, sponsored by Wheels & Wings (builder assistance services) on the first day, and by KITPLANES magazine and AVEMCO aviation insurance on the second day.
The strong Zenith community of builders and owners continue to make Zenith the number one brand of light sport aircraft in the United States (based on actual FAA registrations). There was an outstanding representation of the many Zenith kit airplanes flying today, with numerous custom configurations (engines, avionics, paint schemes and more!).
EAA’s Charlie Becker visited to provide an update on FAA rules and initiatives affecting homebuilt aircraft and Sport Pilots, updating visitors about the FAA’s MOSAIC NPRM.
Zenith Aircraft also hosted guided factory tours and kit assembly demonstrations to showcase the newest kit technology (utilizing CNC final hole size match drilled parts and components). Visitors were able to see up close all the airplanes that were flown in, and meet with the owners (also usually the builders) of the custom-built airplanes. Organizers estimate that more than 500 visitors were on hand over the two days and about 50 planes flew in for the Homecoming. As part of the annual homecoming festivities, Zenith hosted a “dinner banquet” on Friday evening. This year’s event featured record attendance with more than 280 guests.
Other sponsors and supporters of the event provided many of the popular prizes awarded to visitors, including Dynon Avionics, UL Power engines, Garmin avionics, Viking Aircraft Engines, EarthX batteries, Matco (wheels and brakes), DUC propellers, AeroLEDs, EAA, AVEMCO, and many more.
The high-wing Zenith CH 750 Cruzer and the sleek low-wing Zenith CH 650 for sport pilots. With builder choices in mind, all Zenith aircraft kits are designed to offer builders a wide variety of suitable engines, avionics, and custom kit options. Zenith Aircraft builders typically build their own airplanes in 400-500 hours from a complete kit, or can choose to build from component kits, quick build kits, or scratch-build from plans (blueprints) only. The STOL CH 750 Super Duty, a short take-off and landing (STOL) airplane with a rear jump seat, is the latest model from Zenith Aircraft and introduces a new “unpanel” repositionable glass panel display (that completely replaces the traditional instrument panel). The company hosts monthly hands-on workshops held at the factory in central Missouri to allow potential first-time builders to learn all about building their own aircraft. The popular and highly recommended workshop learning experience includes a demonstration flight in the airplane as well as a factory tour.
The company posted more photos of the Homecoming activities on their Facebook page.
Editor’s note: This story originally appeared on kitplanes.com.