Zenith 801 for African high altitude flying

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Africanlion

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Jul 19, 2012
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Johannesburg
High ladies and gents, newbie here
I have been studying the various kits and planes out there and i think the Zenith 801 is the one for me. First off i have done just 1 flying lesson which i thoroughly enjoyed. However should i do my training with a flying school or build my plane first and then have someone (an instructor friend) teach me using the 801 (massive savings compared to flying school)

I have chosen the 801 because of its STOL capabilties and also 4 passenger capability (me wife and our 2 kids). However i would like to know the following from those with experience

1.) I will be operationg from a farm thats at altitude of 4000 mtrs. Are there any peformance issues to take into account at this altitude for this plane or any plane in general

2.) I want the shortest take offs and landings possible, what do you advise i do to get maximum performance regarding these parameters ( I am not too fussed about speed, if it can be improved too great but i wanna be able to land in very tight spots and take off from them) Hey its africa i will be in

3.) Assuming the engine dies in flight, how safe or maneuverable are these planes, can i at least manage to land somewhere without falling out of the sky. Not ready to die just yet:depressed Also are those parachutes any good especially for a 4 seater

4) Last but by no means least, building time. I will have the help of serving technicians helping to build the plane when they are not working. One works for national airline and another for airforce as airframe technician. If we really crack on and work fast, can the plane be built in like a month or so considering these guys do this for a living


Also would welcome recommendations and suggestions on best tires, best engine and whatever else considering the plane will do 80- 90% of its flying on grass/rough fields so its gotta be rugged and stuff. :beer:

Thanks for your responses in advance
 

PTAirco

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4,000 meters?? 13,000 ft? Are you talking about density or actual altitude? I didn't think South Africa had anything that high.
 

Jim55

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Yarker, ON
Thobane Ntlenyana - at 3482 meters in Lesotho is the highest in Southern Africa. Johannesburg is 5500 ft above sea level

Jim
 

SVSUSteve

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Johannesburg is 5500 ft above sea level
Hence why wide-body jets headed to the US from there have to make stops in Dakar or somewhere similar for fuel. The altitude (and DA) won't allow them to get airborne safely with a full fuel load.
 

Battson

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New Zealand
A few thoughts having just gone through the process:

The nperformance numbers you will be spending a lot of time studying online are probably best case. All kit manufacturers do this (if just to keep pace with eachother)..... Useful load will be quoted based upon an extremely light airframe and the smallest engine allowable (comparitively long takeoff run at that weight!!). STOL takeoff roll will be quoted with the biggest engine and best conditions, half fuel etc. etc. etc. You get the idea.

Similarly, the real costs of building they quote are a fraction (like 1/2) of the real cost. Tools, avionics, engine peripherals over the core engine, "bits and pieces", legally mandated equipment, and other misc stuff you can't do without will add a lot to the cost. If you can afford to spend time and effort scrounging second hand halfway worn parts, you will save some, but most big costs you struggle to avoid.

To your other points....
You will have no trouble gliding and performing a forced landing in an aeroplane with a failed engine, once you complete your training. Parachutes are seldom used (because they are impractical) outside of military or aerobatic operations. There are exceptions to this, but most people dont bother; if you're high enough to be able to jump, then you are normally high enough to try and save the aeroplane. The main exceptions are night flying or bad weather IFR.

Build time, it will be measured in years more than months. It takes about half a year's worth of 40 hours weeks to complete a complex 4 place kit. This isn't something you can (or would want to) throw together quickly in a month. There are also likely to be legal barriers around the 51% rule which proclude you getting to much help by "trading money for time".
 

SVSUSteve

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Actually they do it because the fuel is half the price.
The weight limits are a major factor as well. One of my very close friends is a dispatcher for an airline and another friend flies that route for that airline. I'm not doubting that fuel price determines why the stop isn't made somewhere that is actually worth stopping in (such as having the flight go to Morocco or Spain or somewhere like that instead of the armpit of Africa), but the fact remains that the MTOW and density altitude interactions are the reason for the stop in the first place.
 

Head in the clouds

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The weight limits are a major factor as well. One of my very close friends is a dispatcher for an airline and another friend flies that route for that airline. I'm not doubting that fuel price determines why the stop isn't made somewhere that is actually worth stopping in (such as having the flight go to Morocco or Spain or somewhere like that instead of the armpit of Africa), but the fact remains that the MTOW and density altitude interactions are the reason for the stop in the first place.
Might be the case in some places but not so these days in southern Africa. I am a southern African and do have some knowledge of the matter. Fuel price is the only consideration in this case.

Some of my earliest flights out of Bulawayo at midday in midsummer (4400' runway, 6500' DA) were frequently delayed until the early evening brought lower temps and stronger breezes. But that was in the days of the Comet which had very poor thrust to weight. By 1966 they used solid fuel rocket boosters for t/o and had no further delays.

Modern widebodies have massive thrust to weight by comparison and most runways are now three times the length that they were back then.

Fuel is so expensive in southern Africa that no airline buys their fuel there except in emergency or if govt subsidised as it is for SAA. Most flights into SA buy their fuel in north Africa, by diversion if necessary, and fly to SA and out again without uploading any fuel, for fuel cost reasons.

There are places in the world where takeoffs are only scheduled for the evening due to DA, and especially where daytime winds are a rarity. Qatar, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are examples because they are places where aircraft want to leave full of cheap fuel. High altitude cities like Mexico City at some times of the year have a DA that is high enough to cause fuel load restrictions for t/o and requiring top-ups enroute.

Dakar, by the way, is half a continent away from the armpit, in Senegal on the extreme west coast of north Africa and is used for fuelling because it's ideally situated to allow long-haulers to avoid fuelling in SA and also to have to upload very little in the US either.
 

SVSUSteve

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Dakar, by the way, is half a continent away from the armpit, in Senegal on the extreme west coast of north Africa and is used for fuelling because it's ideally situated to allow long-haulers to avoid fuelling in SA and also to have to upload very little in the US either.
What's your definition of the armpit if not the west coast of Africa?

Fuel is so expensive in southern Africa that no airline buys their fuel there except in emergency or if govt subsidised as it is for SAA. Most flights into SA buy their fuel in north Africa, by diversion if necessary, and fly to SA and out again without uploading any fuel, for fuel cost reasons.
I understand that, but pretty much every reference I have seen and every pilot I've talked to says that they can't get a MTOW 747 off the ground safely at Johannesburg during certain times of the year because of the balanced field requirements and such.

Hell, even SAA does a stop in Senegal even with the subsidies but it's odd that they only do it outbound (heading to the US) whereas if it were solely an economic move, you would think they'd top her up coming back too. At least that was the way it was the last time I looked while looking for flights to SA for a conference.
 

SVSUSteve

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Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria
Point taken. Game, set, match as they say. I pretty much look at everything between the south end of the Sahara and the northern border of South Africa as being one big seething black hole (in the sense of "nothing there that I really want to see that's worth the risk of a civil war breaking while I am visiting" not in a racial sense) with a few notable exceptions which are related mostly to wildlife or other natural wonders.
 

Head in the clouds

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Point taken. Game, set, match as they say. I pretty much look at everything between the south end of the Sahara and the northern border of South Africa as being one big seething black hole (in the sense of "nothing there that I really want to see that's worth the risk of a civil war breaking while I am visiting" not in a racial sense) with a few notable exceptions which are related mostly to wildlife or other natural wonders.
Fair comment, however modern adventurous folks consider sub-saharan Africa to be one of the last great frontiers, and has been for 200yrs, no real problem to travel in but familiarity with remote areas is essential.
 

Head in the clouds

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By the way AfLion, to get back on topic, yes, I think an 801 is the best option I can think of for your needs. With a 912 at least or you might consider the 914 or an EJ22 which can be modded for horsepower up to 350 with all the WRX options if you wanted to be really mad...
 
M

Manticore

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Point taken. Game, set, match as they say. I pretty much look at everything between the south end of the Sahara and the northern border of South Africa as being one big seething black hole (in the sense of "nothing there that I really want to see that's worth the risk of a civil war breaking while I am visiting" not in a racial sense) with a few notable exceptions which are related mostly to wildlife or other natural wonders.
Aaahh! Wish I was back in Lome (Togo). Best 15 years of my life - best beer in the world - most beautiful women - a good flying club & a civilised language (French).
 

bucky

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Warner Robins, GA
Not sure if you are still planning on building the 801 but to try to help answer your question regarding the Glide capabilities in the event of an engine failure...

I recently spoke to a pilot that has flown the 801 and 750. One of the things that allows this aircraft to have such great STOL capabilities are the fixed slats on the leading edge of the wing. However, these slats also produce drag in flight. In the case of an engine failure, my pilot friend said that to maintain airspeed to glide to his planned emergency landing field, He has to put the plan in a pretty steep nose down configuration because of the access drag produced by the slats. So he looses altitude pretty quickly.

I also recently learned of some who have opted not to use the fixed slats, and use vortex generators instead. They stated that the stol performans was not impacted too much and the aircraft was able to fly faster and glide better. Not sure if this helps, just something I have learned from my research.
 

Pops

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I'll take a Bearhawk over a 801 anyday. Also if I had to land in the trees, the Bearhawk wins by a large margin. Pops
 

Africanlion

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Johannesburg
Not sure if you are still planning on building the 801 but to try to help answer your question regarding the Glide capabilities in the event of an engine failure...

I recently spoke to a pilot that has flown the 801 and 750. One of the things that allows this aircraft to have such great STOL capabilities are the fixed slats on the leading edge of the wing. However, these slats also produce drag in flight. In the case of an engine failure, my pilot friend said that to maintain airspeed to glide to his planned emergency landing field, He has to put the plan in a pretty steep nose down configuration because of the access drag produced by the slats. So he looses altitude pretty quickly.

I also recently learned of some who have opted not to use the fixed slats, and use vortex generators instead. They stated that the stol performans was not impacted too much and the aircraft was able to fly faster and glide better. Not sure if this helps, just something I have learned from my research.
Thanks for the information. The vortex generators sound good.
 

Africanlion

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Johannesburg
I'll take a Bearhawk over a 801 anyday. Also if I had to land in the trees, the Bearhawk wins by a large margin. Pops
Had never heard of the Bearhawk and just checked it out on their website. I like the superior speed/performance but it is far larger than the 801 which i am drawn to because its smallish and still carries 4. The take off roll for the Bearhawk is also longer

Apart from the speed why fo you personally favour the Bearhawk if i may ask
 
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