Hello from The Gambia, West Africa.

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Joined
Jan 6, 2021
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Hello everyone,

It is a pleasure to be here. I am Abdourahman Chaw from The Gambia, which's the smallest country in West Africa.

I want to build my first aircraft despite being a total novice in aircraft building and operation. This has never been attempted in my country or neighboring countries, and I have seen so many failed attempts in Africa on youtube. I started making research and found this awesome group. I didn't know which plane to start with so I reached out to some members of this group. It was suggested to build the MiniMax at first, but later Mr. Victor suggested building the Zenith CH-701 or CH-750 of which I decided to build the CH-750. The Zenith aircraft had been build successfully in other parts of Africa and they work fine with our environment I learned.

I plan to build it from scratch instead of using the kit to gain experience and save cost. Saving cost is very pivotal in completing the project hence the main reason for scratch-building.

I have never worked with metal sheets before so I spoke with a friend who works with metal sheets and I should join his workshop in few days to learn how to work with metal sheets as I am saving up to buy some of the tools and materials I will be needing to get started.

Meanwhile, I wanted to ask if anyone here had built the CH-750 from scratch? Any recommendations or things I should look out for? Is it possible to build from scratch using plans for someone with zero experience?

Thank you all.
 

TFF

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Apr 28, 2010
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Memphis, TN
Very smart to pick this plane than try an design your own when starting from no knowledge. If you search the forum, there are a number of Zenith examples to see how it is done. Engine will be an important choice.
I have a friend who is a pilot, and his wife is from Gambia
 
Joined
Jan 6, 2021
Messages
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Very smart to pick this plane than try an design your own when starting from no knowledge. If you search the forum, there are a number of Zenith examples to see how it is done. Engine will be an important choice.
I have a friend who is a pilot, and his wife is from Gambia
Thank you very much for that feedback. Glad to know I’m on the right track for a start. Yes i was thinking of getting the engine recommended by Zenith for the STOL CH-750 but i will update accordingly when i get started. Regards to your friend and his wife 🙂
 

rv7charlie

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Jackson
Welcome to the HBA forum! I'd agree that the 750 is probably a good choice for a 1st time build, and for where you will be flying. Getting metal working experience is a great idea, too. But do a lot of research on the special requirements for aircraft, that differ from regular sheet metal. You can download the FAA AC43 document for free; it's a great resource for 'best practices'.

You probably know this already, but your hardest task may be obtaining the 6061 aluminum for the airframe. Unfortunately, regular sheet metal is way too heavy for aircraft.

Enjoy your project, and keep us updated.
 
Joined
Jan 6, 2021
Messages
19
Welcome to the HBA forum! I'd agree that the 750 is probably a good choice for a 1st time build, and for where you will be flying. Getting metal working experience is a great idea, too. But do a lot of research on the special requirements for aircraft, that differ from regular sheet metal. You can download the FAA AC43 document for free; it's a great resource for 'best practices'.

You probably know this already, but your hardest task may be obtaining the 6061 aluminum for the airframe. Unfortunately, regular sheet metal is way too heavy for aircraft.

Enjoy your project, and keep us updated.
Thank you very much. i will definitely make sure to look into all points mentioned.
 

Riggerrob

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Sep 9, 2014
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Canada
Like rv7charlie said,
Ensure that you get the specific metals mentioned in the Zenith plans. For example, Zenith insists on only installing pulled rivets from one source. They have noticed significant quality differences between two different factories supposedly making rivets to exactly the same specification.
You should also be able to find a dozen or more instructional videos on www.youtube.com about sheet aluminum techniques.
Finally, most people in your situation like to do most of the sheet metal work themselves but buy completed engine mounts and landing gear because those require special tooling.
 

cluttonfred

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Feb 13, 2010
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Fort Walton Beach, Florida, USA
Welcome, Abdourahman, glad to have you here. Please don't hesitate to ask any questions that might come up, I can imagine how hard it is to tackle such a project without a community of fellow airplane builders. Cheers, Matthew
 

Victor Bravo

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Abdourahman Chaw had initially sent me a PM looking for a bit of guidance, and I did in fact recommend the Zenith 750 aircraft. Over and above my general support for this brand of airplane, I made that recommendation even more confidently in this case, because of seeing the photos and stories of several CH-701/750 series aircraft that had been successfully built in African countries, other very small nations, and/or "Third World" areas.

RV7 Charlie mentioned something I had forgotten, and he is 100% correct. Download the FAA AC 43.13 books for free from the FAA.gov or DOT.gov or some other US government website. This book becomes a free college-level education on what is safe and correct when building, repairing, or inspecting an aircraft. With very very few exceptions, if you religiously follow the guidance of the AC 43.13 book, you will be assured of a safe, good quality result.
 
Joined
Jan 6, 2021
Messages
19
Like rv7charlie said,
Ensure that you get the specific metals mentioned in the Zenith plans. For example, Zenith insists on only installing pulled rivets from one source. They have noticed significant quality differences between two different factories supposedly making rivets to exactly the same specification.
You should also be able to find a dozen or more instructional videos on www.youtube.com about sheet aluminum techniques.
Finally, most people in your situation like to do most of the sheet metal work themselves but buy completed engine mounts and landing gear because those require special tooling.
very insightful! i will make sure to stick to the plan. Thank you very much
 
Joined
Jan 6, 2021
Messages
19
Welcome, Abdourahman, glad to have you here. Please don't hesitate to ask any questions that might come up, I can imagine how hard it is to tackle such a project without a community of fellow airplane builders. Cheers, Matthew
Thank you for the warm welcome. I will definitely make sure to share all issues that may arise. Thank you very much
 

Brünner

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Joined
Apr 12, 2020
Messages
133
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Beer country
Welcome to this great community.
Not to be a party-pooper, but I think that due consideration should be given to the issue of acquiring the materials for construction and the tools needed for the job as well.
Here in beer country, the Minimax and Himax were very popular (still are) because they are probably the cheapest to build material-wise, and they do not require special tools.
Whatever you choose it will be a long but rewarding journey, the most important tools you will need are patience and determination.
 
Joined
Jan 6, 2021
Messages
19
Let me add my welcome as well, Sir.
I had responded to your PM, and want to add that the person getting his A&P certificate with me was from Kenya.
We are interested in your progress!
Thank you very much, Sir. I will definitely keep you updated. Much appreciated!
 
Joined
Jan 6, 2021
Messages
19
Welcome to this great community.
Not to be a party-pooper, but I think that due consideration should be given to the issue of acquiring the materials for construction and the tools needed for the job as well.
Here in beer country, the Minimax and Himax were very popular (still are) because they are probably the cheapest to build material-wise, and they do not require special tools.
Whatever you choose it will be a long but rewarding journey, the most important tools you will need are patience and determination.
Thank you so much for that advice. I had given it a thought and spend weeks going around trying to find the kind of wood I’ll be needing to build a Minimax but none are available here unfortunately. Building the Minimax would require importing all of the wood I’ll be needing and that would cost me more most especially if i have to order in bits. Looking at the option of using sheet metal, i can find at least a percentage of some of what I’ll be needing and buying as i am building would be possible in that case, plus no shipping cost. This is among the reasons for my decision with the CH-750.
I thank you sincerely for taking time to give some advice. I’m grateful 🙂
 

Wayne

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Jan 14, 2013
Messages
474
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Chicago, IL
Hi and welcome aboard!
I am almost done with a 750 Cruzer - just yesterday lit the lights up and make some smoke come out of the wires for the fuel pumps!

Over the course of this build I have gone from having a full time software sales job (which I still have and still carry an aggressive quota - arrrgh!!), rebuilding and growing a top 10% EAA Chapter and now being a part owner of the local flying school, FBO, and maintenance shop. My plan B as it were 😂. Add in losing my right hand man (Dad) and my progress slowed and my build log deteriorated.

I mention the above for a specific reason - don't look at the time it has taken me to build mine and worry that it will take you that long. I also have 25 year old twins and have been mentoring a Young Lady these last six years. So in my world the build gets worked on VERY occasionally. If you just do a task or two a day (even if it is sweeping the floor) and try to keep social time and work time separated as much as possible (you will find it is sometimes/often much faster to work alone or with a quiet competent co-worker) than if all the guys show up and want to "help". That usually ends in beer consumption in my world and ruins forward progress because building airplanes while drunk is not ideal 😂😂

Build Log

Above is what I have so far, and I'll finish it up before the FAA comes to inspect. Even though I built from a kit I have deep experience with a few Zenith idiosyncrasies - these will be helpful to discuss with you, Narfi and VB who are involved with similar designs.

I made some significant changes/additions that I hope will improve the aircraft in *my* mind. This does not imply there is anything wrong with the plane - they fly great! My changes include making the asymmetrical elevator control horn symmetrical (reduce varying pressure with lateral stick movement as a result of winding the rudder cables up like a rubber band more on one side), hand made fiberglass and carbon fiber fairings to clean up the intersections, and addition of a full axis autopilot with Grand Rapids Sport EX EFIS. I also have the UL Power 350is with what are probably the first or very early Composite Designs UL Power specific Power panels.

Some of this tech would be totally out of place in your aircraft based on it's mission (it will do real work, mine is mostly for Young Eagle rides and stuff) where I suspect we focus on the strengths of the design - simple, rugged, and "cheap". A Continental O200 will fly the thing nicely (I helped build another one with a 200 in) and leave you some useful load. The view and seating position are awesome. I would highly recommend adjustable seats - the kit provides generic hot rod sliding rails and auto seat belts (non retract). Works great.

I'll try to help you with specific questions as best I'm able. I'm very time constrained so am very careful about overcommitting because I don't want to let someone down simply because I run out of time resources to help them.
 

galapoola

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Joined
Jun 4, 2017
Messages
130
Location
NJ
Abdourahman,
I looked at a map of your region. Your country is indeed very small. As a citizen of The Gambia can you fly into Senegal airspace? Was wondering how or if metric suppliers of materials would be of concern for these plans.
 
Joined
Jan 6, 2021
Messages
19
Hi and welcome aboard!
I am almost done with a 750 Cruzer - just yesterday lit the lights up and make some smoke come out of the wires for the fuel pumps!

Over the course of this build I have gone from having a full time software sales job (which I still have and still carry an aggressive quota - arrrgh!!), rebuilding and growing a top 10% EAA Chapter and now being a part owner of the local flying school, FBO, and maintenance shop. My plan B as it were 😂. Add in losing my right hand man (Dad) and my progress slowed and my build log deteriorated.

I mention the above for a specific reason - don't look at the time it has taken me to build mine and worry that it will take you that long. I also have 25 year old twins and have been mentoring a Young Lady these last six years. So in my world the build gets worked on VERY occasionally. If you just do a task or two a day (even if it is sweeping the floor) and try to keep social time and work time separated as much as possible (you will find it is sometimes/often much faster to work alone or with a quiet competent co-worker) than if all the guys show up and want to "help". That usually ends in beer consumption in my world and ruins forward progress because building airplanes while drunk is not ideal 😂😂

Build Log

Above is what I have so far, and I'll finish it up before the FAA comes to inspect. Even though I built from a kit I have deep experience with a few Zenith idiosyncrasies - these will be helpful to discuss with you, Narfi and VB who are involved with similar designs.

I made some significant changes/additions that I hope will improve the aircraft in *my* mind. This does not imply there is anything wrong with the plane - they fly great! My changes include making the asymmetrical elevator control horn symmetrical (reduce varying pressure with lateral stick movement as a result of winding the rudder cables up like a rubber band more on one side), hand made fiberglass and carbon fiber fairings to clean up the intersections, and addition of a full axis autopilot with Grand Rapids Sport EX EFIS. I also have the UL Power 350is with what are probably the first or very early Composite Designs UL Power specific Power panels.

Some of this tech would be totally out of place in your aircraft based on it's mission (it will do real work, mine is mostly for Young Eagle rides and stuff) where I suspect we focus on the strengths of the design - simple, rugged, and "cheap". A Continental O200 will fly the thing nicely (I helped build another one with a 200 in) and leave you some useful load. The view and seating position are awesome. I would highly recommend adjustable seats - the kit provides generic hot rod sliding rails and auto seat belts (non retract). Works great.

I'll try to help you with specific questions as best I'm able. I'm very time constrained so am very careful about overcommitting because I don't want to let someone down simply because I run out of time resources to help them.
I am very sorry to hear about your dad. I offer my most sincere condolences.
Wow, that's quite and experience you've had and being able to proceed with your build despite the busy schedule is just amazing. can't wait to see you finish.

I'll look into all recommendations you've made as I go along and will definitely appreciate the the insights shared. I understand about not committing due to time constraint :) schedules are always busy.
I thank you sincerely and look forward to the completion of your project
 
Joined
Jan 6, 2021
Messages
19
Abdourahman,
I looked at a map of your region. Your country is indeed very small. As a citizen of The Gambia can you fly into Senegal airspace? Was wondering how or if metric suppliers of materials would be of concern for these plans.
Hello,
yes, it is indeed very small. I have asked questions along that line to people at our civil aviation office and they couldn't provide answers. A homebuilt plane has never been made here so the answers I can get are very limited. However, they just said I could go on and when I'm done then we can look into all technicalities afterward. I am very concerned about the availability of some of the materials I will be needing. I might even have to order some tools. I'd still want to scratch-built but if getting everything I'll be needing would prove very difficult then I might end up just ordering the kit by component or parts along with the tools all from Zenith instead of ordering tools and materials separately which would only increase the shipment cost. It is because of such difficulties that anyone in my country would consider the idea of building an aircraft as crazy :D
 

PagoBay

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Joined
Nov 16, 2013
Messages
249
Location
US Territory of Guam
Abdourahman,..

Be sure to join the authorized Zenith forum as well. There you will find many friendly and supportive builders and completed builders sharing tips and tricks, especially where the plans are confusing or have been found to have some inconsistencies. The Zenith site also has a dedicated section for each of the eight popular engine choices. A decision that will come after some time but is a major step. You can discuss with builder/owners who are now flying behind their choice.

Then, be sure to search the world wide internet for scratch builders who post detailed logs. They can probably be found via a Google search like "Zenith CH750 Builder Log" or similar. But after you have parts made, the assembly, drilling, deburring and riveting can be supported by any builder's log. Some are very detailed. For a sample scratch build of the Zenith SuperDuty, which is basically a larger CH750, check out Narfi;s build log right here on HBA.
There are a number of YouTube videos for the Zenith aircraft where builders are showing their build in step by step fashion and showing how they solve problems. Just search from your YouTube home page.

Also, there are the HomeBuilt Help videos for assembly guidance. Homebuilt Help has lots of building tips on YouTube also.
Experimental Homebuilt Amateur Aircraft Construction Training Video DVD for Zenith CH750

Finally, the EAA has lots of excellent webinar and other video guides. Requires a membership to view most of these.


Good Luck. You have been directed to an excellent choice. All the best with your endeavor.
 
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