Zenair Founder Chris Heintz Passes


Prolific aircraft designer and founder of Zenair Chris Heintz has died. According to Zenith Aircraft, “Chris died peacefully at his home in Southern France where he is survived by Annemarie, his loving wife of 60 years, his five children and a dozen grand-children. As per his wishes, funeral arrangements will be kept simple and private.” He was 82.

Heintz graduated from engineering school in 1960 and went to work for Sud-Aviation where he would eventually participate in the supersonic Concorde program. He then worked for Robin and, frustrated by the pace of design and certification, created his own homebuilt aircraft, the Zenith, in 1970. (Zenith is an anagram of Heintz.) Heintz subsequently moved from France to Canada and continued refining what would become the CH 200.

Among the accolades presented to Heintz:

  • 1974: “Best New Design” (EAAC) for the prototype Zenith CH 200.
  • 1976: Heintz leads the “8-Day Wonder” project at EAA Oshkosh, building (from a kit) and flying an entire aircraft in eight days!
  • 1978: The Dr. A. Raspet Memorial Award “for outstanding contribution to the advancement of the design of light aircraft.”
  • 1984 : “Best New Design” (EAAC) for the prototype ZODIAC CH 600.
  • 1999: Designer Chris Heintz inducted to EAA Hall of Fame.
  • 2011: Chris Heintz is officially honored and recognized at the EAA AirVenture international fly-in convention for his many contributions to the industry.

“Best known in aviation circles as a prolific and talented aircraft designer, aeronautical engineer, innovator, builder, entrepreneur, lecturer and author, Chris has touched the lives of thousands throughout his exceedingly productive professional life,” said Zenith Aircraft.

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Marc Cook
Marc Cook is a veteran special-interest journalist who started as a staffer at AOPA Pilot in the late 1980s. Marc has built two airplanes, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Aviation Sportsman, and now owns a 180-hp, steam-gauge-adjacent GlaStar based in western Oregon. Marc has 5000 hours spread over 200-plus types and four decades of flying.



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