Saturday, 11 May 2013

Zenith CH 200s of New Zealand

The Zenith CH 200 was the next type of 2 seater homebuilt aircraft to appear in New Zealand.  It was designed by Chris Heintz who used to work as an engineer for Avions Pierre Robin, and the prototype first flew in France on 22/3/70.  Heintz emigrated to Canada in 1973 and set up Zenair Ltd in 1974, to sell plans and kits for the CH 200.  The CH 200 is an all metal low wing 2 seater that can be built with a tri-gear undercarriage or as a taildragger, and can be powered by engines from 85 to 160 HP.  Later Chris Heintz designed the single seat CH 100 and the 3 seat CH 300, both based on the CH 200 and of which we have had one each in New Zealand.  He has also designed other kit planes, some of which will be detailed in later posts in this series.

The CH 200 has a length of 6.25 metres (20 feet 6 inches), a wingspan of 7.00 metres (23 feet) and a wing area of 106 square feet.  It has an empty weight of 408 Kg (900 pounds) and a MAUW of 658 Kg (1450 pounds).  With 100 HP it cruises at 130 mph.

Our first CH 200 was ZK-NEN (c/n AACA/100/2) which was built by Ewan Nichol of Winton in Southland.  It first flew on 14/12/80.  The above photo is of a brand new ZK-NEN at the 1981 AACA flyin at Mt Hutt.  Ewan Nichol later moved to Halswell where it was based for many years.  It was damaged on 8/9/91 at Foxpine but was rebuilt and sold to IW Fletcher of Auckland on 25/3/94.  It was damaged again at North Shore on 19/6/94 when it force landed after an engine failure and went through a fence.  It was again rebuilt and sold to RF Murray of Hamilton on 26/2/99, then to CN Bellingham of Pukekohe on 27/4/05 who quickly sold it to DD Howard of Rakaia on 30/12/05.

The above photo of ZK-NEN was taken by Blue Bus at Oamarma on 31/12/07, where it is still basically in its original scheme, but with the name CPL Don Howard USMC under the cockpit with 5 gliders  (not sure what that is about).

It flew on during a repaint, flying for a while in bare metal, until it reappeared in the above temporary scheme as photod by Blue Bus at Ashburton on 16/1/10, while we waited for what would appear in that space.

And finally all was revealed with this new colour scheme, also photo'd at Ashburton by Blue Bus, on 5/2/11.  ZK-NEN is still current.

Our next CH 200 followed very quickly.  It was ZK-ESV (c/n AACA/469) which was built by Walter Rusbridge of Christchurch and was first registered on 8/12/80.  It actaully first flew 2 dyas before ZK-NEN on 12/12/80.  It above photo was taken at Christchurch in December 1980.

Walter Rusbridge flew ZK-ESV extensively around New Zealand, and it is photo'd above at the 1986 AACA flyin at Matamata.  Tragically it crashed at Culverden on 30/3/89, killing Walter Rusbridge and his passenger.  It was cancelled on 11/10/89.

Our third CH 200 was ZK-ZEN (c/n AACA/662) which was built by Barry Vivian of new Plymouth and was first registered on 15/11/83.  It is photo'd above, also at the 1986 AACA flyin at Matamata, where it wears the name "Sky Bird".  It was sold to the BA Vivian and PR Darby Syndicate of New Plymouth on 27/11/91 and then to the ZEN Aviation Syndicate of Waikanae, with whom it is still current.

ZK-KLM (c/n AACA/1077) was built by MA Brown and KW king of Waimate, and was first registered on 17/4/90.  It is photo'd above at the fogged-in 1993 AACA flyin at Rangiora.  The registration was revoked on 23/4/02 but it was re-registered to P Duncan and JR Btrown of Temuka on 18/11/02.  It is still current.

ZK-JLP (c/n 4264B) was built over many years by Lindsay Dunlop of Opotiki, then Tauranga, and it was first registered to him on 14/4/00.  The above photo was taken in a hangar at Tauranga in 2001.  As noted on the cowling it had a 130 HP Franklin engine.  Tragically it crashed into the sea off Matakana Island, neat Tauranga on 28/12/02, killing Lindsay Dunlop and his passenger.  The accident report identified that the nose wheel had become unlocked, which distracted the pilot.  It was cancelled on 15/9/05.

Another Tauranga CH 200 is ZK-FRV (c/n SAA 181) which was built by Graham French.  It was first registered on 6/12/06.  As can be seen in the above photo taken at the 2008 SAANZ flyin at Tauranga, it is our only taildragger version, making it a CH 200TD.  It is powered by a Subaru motor.

And finally our seventh and so far final CH 200 is ZK-UDY (c/n AACA/653) which was built over even more years by Tony Udy of Eketahuna, then Feilding.  It was first registered on 20/8/87 but did not fly until 2010!  The above photo was taken at the TVAL Armistice Day airshow at Masterton on 10/11/12.

There have been a couple of other Zenith projects that I know of that have been close to completion.  Frank Sleath of Tauranga registered his ZK-FFS on 13/3/90.  I saw it at the 2008 SAANZ flyin at tauaranga, in a hangar and looking complete on its udercarriage but unpainted.  However, it was cancelled on 13/3/08.  And ZK-TDJ was a CH 250 that was being built by WJ Taylor of Christchurch and was registered on 30/8/87.  I seem to remember a photo of a Zenith that I suppose to be ZK-TDJ in an edition of Sport Flying magazine where the fuselage was painted in a pseudo RAF colour scheme.  However it too was cancelled, on 17/7/01.  Can anyone supply any more information on it?

That ends the history of New Zealand's CH 200s to date.  There could be another one along sometime.  However it is not the end of the Zenith story in New Zealand as apart from our only CH 300 ZK-MJB there have been many CH 600/601s and CH 701s which I will cover in future posts.



  1. I've got an early 80;s vintage CH250 here in the states...went through the plane and freshened up the Lycoming O290D engine, and all the little airframe issues. Enjoying flying it immensely.

  2. Hi there, can somebody supply me with contact info for Graham French, the guy with the CH-200 tail dragger. I am wanting plans to convert mine over.

  3. 6 Tom Muir Drive Greeton Tauranga NewZealand

    ph 5718586