Zenith Aircraft Company






Zenith Aircraft Company's kit aircraft designs...

Zenith Aircraft Company is in the exclusive business of designing, developing and manufacturing kit aircraft. The independent, privately-owned company was formed in 1992 in Mexico, Missouri, centrally located in the United States, and is based in leased 20,000+ sq.ft. production facilities at Mexico Memorial Airport.  Zenith Aircraft Company has acquired the exclusive rights to manufacture and market ZenairTM kit aircraft designs from designer Chris Heintz.

Zenith Aircraft Company's Open Hangar Day (2005)

Zenith Aircraft Company holds hands-on workshops at its factory to give potential builders the opportunity to learn all about building your own kit aircraft.  The annual Open Hangar Day has become a popular event for owners and enthusiasts to fly-in and visit the factory and meet with fellow builders.

Zenith Aircraft Company

Aeronautical engineer Chris HeintzCHRIS HEINTZ

An accomplished aeronautical engineer, Chris Heintz was a graduate of the E.T.H Institute in Switzerland. After serving in the Air Force, Heintz worked for Aerospatiale on the supersonic Concorde jetliner, and later became chief engineer at Avions Robin (France) where he designed several fully-certified two and four seat all-metal production aircraft.

In his spare time, Heintz began to design and build his own aircraft, which he named the ZENITH, anagram of Heintz. Being an engineer and not a craftsman, his all-metal homebuilt aircraft incorporated simple construction methods throughout. After a little more than a year’s work, the two-place low-wing Zenith was rolled out and successfully flown in 1969.  Soon after, detailed blueprints and construction manuals of the aircraft were drawn up and offered to the growing number of interested builders and flyers.

In 1973, Chris Heintz, his family and the Zenith moved to North America, where Heintz worked for de Havilland (in Toronto) as a stress engineer on the Dash 7 commuter. Chris decided to form his own aircraft company in 1974, and under the name of Zenair Ltd. started to manufacture Zenith kits himself from his two-car garage. Through the company, Heintz has introduced more than twelve successful kit aircraft designs over the years.  In 1992, Heintz licensed the kit manufacturing and marketing rights to Zenith Aircraft Company for the STOL CH 701 and the ZODIAC CH 601 designs, and subsequently developed the STOL CH 801, the ZODIAC XL, and the new STOL CH 750 light sport utility kit airplane.Chris Heintz pilots the original Zenith CH 200 in 1974

As founder, president and chief engineer of Zenair Ltd. since 1974, Mr. Heintz designed and developed more than 12 new aircraft models, which have been marketed as kit aircraft around the world. Thousands of these aircraft, mostly kit built versions, are presently flying around the world in 48 different countries. Heintz designs have earned an excellent reputation among pilots, builders, the press, and aviation authorities for their durable all-metal construction, normal flight characteristics, reliability, and low maintenance requirements. With a career-long dedication to aviation, Chris Heintz is a past recipient of the EAA’s coveted Dr. August Raspet Memorial Award "for outstanding contribution to the advancement of the design of light aircraft," and his designs have been honored with numerous awards around the world. In 1995 the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) awarded Zenair Ltd. the prestigious Honorary Group Diploma for "greatly contributing to the progress of aviation" and Chris Heintz was inducted into the EAA "Hall of Fame" in 1999.  Designer Chris Heintz was named the LAMA / Kitplanes magazine "Outstanding Individual" for 2001.  Heintz was selected by his peers (aircraft designers and manufacturers) for this prestigious award from the Light Aircraft Manufacturer's Assoc.

In 1996, Chris Heintz and Zenair Ltd. obtained FAA type-certification for the ZENITH CH 2000, a two-seat low-wing aircraft based on Heintz' kit aircraft designs. 

"Pilots around the world owe a debt of gratitude to Chris Heintz whose creative engineering genius has produced the most affordable all metal production aircraft, with the largest cabin of any two seat FAA type certificated airplane on the market today. No other airplane in the world offers so much strength, stability, comfort, or operating economy.  Chris Heintz has made a significant contribution towards preserving affordable airplane ownership while ensuring durable cost efficient flight training aircraft of the 21st century."

 - Recreational Airplane Pilot, by Edwin Quinlan, Aviators Publishing

Chris Heintz not only designed, tested and promoted aircraft, he was also actively involved in all facets of general aviation as a long-time EAA member, frequently giving lectures and forums at chapter meetings and fly-ins. Heintz is also a sought-after light aircraft engineering consultant, consulting to governments, organizations, universities, and private individuals. A leading authority on light aircraft design and market direction, Heintz has worked closely with aviation authorities and organizations in developing new aircraft regulations and has been actively involved in promoting aviation (and industry) in developing countries. Chris Heintz was actively involved in promoting, developing and implementing the standards for the FAA's new Sport Pilot / Light Sport Aircraft category

After retiring, Heintz wrote a detailed book on light aircraft design, titled titled Flying On Your Own Wings - A Complete Guide To Understanding Light Airplane Design, published in 2009.

Chris Heintz died peacefully on April 30, 2021, at his home in southern France.


Chris Heintz Left:  Chris Heintz being honored at AirVenture 2011 (Oshkosh) with EAA's Mary Jones.

Right: Designer Chris Heintz was awarded the LAMA (Light Aircraft Manufacturers' Assoc.) / KITPLANES magazine 2001 PRESIDENT'S AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING INDIVIDUAL at Oshkosh AirVenture on July 24, 2001. Heintz was selected by his peers (aircraft designers and manufacturers) for this prestigious award from the Light Aircraft Manufacturer's Assoc.  The award was presented to Chris Heintz by LAMA president Larry Burke and KITPLANES magazine editor Dave Martin. 

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ZENITH, anagram of HEINTZ

Flying the ZODIAC and STOL


ZenairTM designs have been recognized on numerous occasions for their contributions to the industry, including:

1974 ‘Best New Design’ (EAAC) for the prototype Zenith CH 200
1975 Winner of the Pazmany efficiency contest (two seat category)
1975 NASAD (National Assoc. of Sport Aircraft Designers) Seal of Quality (Drawings)
1976 The Eight Day Wonder A Zenith was constructed and flown in just eight days during the 1976 EAA Oshkosh convention. EAA president Paul Poberezny presents Zenair with certificate for "service and dedication."
1978 FAI World Record: A Tri-Z CH 300, piloted by Red Morris, was flown non-stop from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean (2,800 miles in 22.75 hours).
1978 The Dr. A. Raspet Memorial Award was presented to Chris Heintz "for outstanding contribution to the advancement of the design of light aircraft" by then EAA president Paul Poberezny.
1979 NASAD Seal of Quality awarded to all Zenair kits.
1981 University of Wisconsin Certificate of Appreciation for contribution in its Project School-Flight program.
1984 ‘Best New Design’ (EAA Sun’n Fun) for the ZIPPER ultralight.
1984 ‘Best New Design’ (EAAC) for the prototype ZODIAC CH 600.
1985 NASAD Seal of Quality awarded to ZODIAC drawings and kits.
1986 A ZODIAC CH 601 was completely assembled from a kit in only ten days at the World EXPO’86 in Vancouver.
1987 A STOL CH 701 kit was completely assembled and flown in just seven days at the EAA Sun’n Fun fly-in by volunteers, supervised by Zenair staff. This feat was repeated at the 1990 and 1991 EAA Sun’n Fun fly-ins, and honored ‘Best Workshop’ by Sport Pilot magazine.
1991 EAA Sun’n Fun Convention presented Zenair and Chris Heintz with award for "dedication and generous support" of light aviation.
1992 Zenith Aircraft Company begins manufacturing Zenair kits under license in Mexico, Missouri, centrally located in the US.
1993 ‘The Seven Day Challenge’ A Super ZODIAC CH 601 HDS was completely assembled and flown in seven days at the Sun’n Fun fly-in convention by volunteers, supervised by company staff.
1994 Heintz’ newest design, the ZENITH CH 2000, receives FAA and Transport Canada type-certification. Not a kit aircraft, the new design is marketed only factory-assembled as an affordable all-purpose two-seater and trainer.
1995 Federation Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) awards Zenair the prestigious 1995 Honorary Group Diploma for "greatly contributing to the progress of aviation."
1996 Zenith Aircraft Company introduces the GEMINI CH 620 twin-engine concept kit aircraft, the first "personal twin-engine" kit design in the industry.
1997 "Certificate of Appreciation" presented to Zenith Aircraft Co. for their "distinguished servicing and appreciation for their contributions in developing, promoting and advancing Private and Sport Aviation." Presented by EAA, Chapter 229.
1998 Introduction of the new 4-seat STOL CH 801 and the new ZODIAC CH 601 XL.  US Aviator magazine awards the ZODIAC XL its "Best Aircraft of Show" award following the introduction of the new design at EAA AirVenture (Oshkosh).
1998 Zenith Aircraft Company doubles the size of its kit production facilities at its Mexico, Missouri factory.
1998 Zenith Aircraft Company is awarded the "1998 Excellence in Tourism Award" by the Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce for its "outstanding contributions to further Mexico tourism."
1999 Zenair Ltd. celebrates its 25th anniversary as a kit aircraft manufacturer: A quarter century of excellence and leadership in the kit aircraft industry.
1999 Zenith Aircraft Company is presented with a silver anniversary plaque "in appreciation of 25 years support" to the EAA Sun'n Fun fly-in convention.
1999 Zenith Aircraft Company is named the winner of the first-ever Missouri Industry of the Year Award (small business), presented by Associated Industries of Missouri, the Missouri Department of Economic Development, and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
1999 Designer Chris Heintz inducted to EAA Hall of Fame.
2001 Designer Chris Heintz awarded "Outstanding Individual" by LAMA / Kitplanes magazine.
2001 For the third consecutive year, Zenith Aircraft Company is named to the Deloitte & Touche "FAST 50" program.
2002 Chris Heintz is the recipient of the Recreational Aircraft Assoc. of Canada (RAAC) "Aircraft Designer's Award."

Chris Heintz recognized for his "diligent and sustained effort that provided a direct contribution to the technical integrity of the standards." ASTM Sport Pilot / LSA Committee.

2004 Zenith Aircraft Co. awarded the Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce's 2003 G. Andy Runge Ambassador Award "in appreciation for bringing great statewide and national recognition to Mexico, Missouri."
2008 Zenith Aircraft Co. introduces the new STOL CH 750 light sport utility kit airplane design.
2009 Designer Chris Heintz releases book on light aircraft design titled Flying On Your Own Wings - A Complete Guide To Understanding Light Airplane Design.
2009 Zenith Aircraft Company is honored with the 25th annual Commerce and Industry Award from the Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce and the City of Mexico, in recognition "for outstanding contributions to the economic growth of Mexico and for dedicated community service."
2010 PilotMag, the magazine and online guide for adventure flying, names Zenith Aircraft Company as the "Best Overall Kit Aircraft Manufacturer Pick for 2010" (PilotMag's Best Picks for 2010, Nov./Dec.2009 issue)
2011 Chris Heintz is officially honored and recognized at the EAA AirVenture (Oshkosh) international fly-in convention for his many significant contributions to the industry.
Light Aircraft Manufacturers Assoc. Experimental Aircraft Assoc.

Zenith Aircraft Company is a proud member and supporter of the Experimental Aircraft Assoc. (EAA), the Small Aircraft Manufacturers Assoc. (SAMA), the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Assoc. (LAMA), and numerous other organizations dedicated to the advancement of sport aviation.  Zenith Aircraft Company is continuously involved in projects devoted to aviation education and the advancement of sport aviation around the world.

© Zenith Aircraft Company