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ZODIAC XL 'recaptures' the 2001 Schneider Cup Trophy

October 2001, Aeroporto di Vigna di Valle, Lago di Bracciano, ITALY:

The 4th annual Piccola Coppa Schneider race for European microlights (light aircraft) was held on September 9th at the historic home and museum of some of the original Schneider Cup aircraft, the Vigna di Valle seaplane base near Rome, Italy. A new ZODIAC XL aircraft on 1150 amphibious floats piloted by Chip W. Erwin won the 2001 race, as well as the trophy for the aircraft with the ultimate fastest speed in uncompensated time (aircraft race under a Pazmany handicap formula). The composite Italian Sky Arrow took the 2nd through 7th place.

"We just finished building our first ZODIAC XL a week before the race and did not even complete the float installation until a few moments before the flight over the Alps from the Czech Republic to Italy." Said Erwin. "Some people may think racing a floatplane at 50 feet altitude, full power and full speed making 160 degree corners at 70+ degrees bank with 3 aircraft on the race course might be challenging, but the truth is getting to the race over the Alps at 9,000+ feet in marginal weather was the difficult part". The ZODIAC XL proved its versatility on the 600 mile cross country landing on grass, paved surface, and water along the way.

Strong winds and turbulence threatened to cancel the race but the winds abated by Sunday allowing just enough time to finish the heats. There was considerable debate whether to change the starting procedure from water starts to flying starts as the conditions were still marginal. By the time the debate was over the winds had abated enough to allow the planned water starts.

The race course was a triangle marked by catamaran sailboats with flags run up their masts. The course was set off the shore by about 500 meters and each leg was 500 to 1000 meters. The race was shortened from 8 to 5 laps to allow time for all aircraft to compete. The winning time set by Erwin piloting the ZODIAC XL was 9 minutes and 11 seconds. Mr. Filippi was second at 9:25 and Mr. Duranti third at 9:47, both pilots from Italy and racing in Sky Arrows.

The adventure was not yet over for Erwin as he returned to Northern Italy flying over the Mediterranean Sea, sometimes more than 30 miles out to circumnavigate thunderstorms and fighting 40 mph headwinds, then once again over the Alps returning to the Czech Republic.

The new ZODIAC XL is designed to be a "Sportplane" with a cruise speed over 130 mph, stall under 41 mph, and useful load of up to 600 lbs. The amphibious floats make the aircraft the ultimate Sportplane.

The ZODIAC XL is the newest ZODIAC aircraft model from designer Chris Heintz, and has been designed to meet the FAA's proposed Sport Plane category. Amphibious floats add to the versatility of the aircraft.

For more information about the new ZODIAC XL design visit Zenith Aircraft Company's website: http://www.zenithair.com


In 1999, Chip Erwin won the Schneider Cup Seaplane Race flying a slower Zodiac CH 601 model.  Click here for photos.


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Zenith Aircraft Company

Zenith Aircraft Company
1881 Airport Road, Mexico Memorial Airport
Mexico, Missouri, 65265-0650 USA.
Tel: 573-581-9000 (Mon - Fri, 8-5 Central),
Fax: 573-581-0011
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