Scooper wrote:I've been a Varga Kachina fan for decades; it's like an affordable fixed gear Beech T-34. When Brian and Carol converted my Zodiac to experimental I got a close look at one of theirs.
Curious about your Zodiac - engine, handling? The odd "Y" stick (I'm guessing you get used to it quickly and it's not an issue?) There are a LOT of models/variations. I see then fairly regularly on Barnstormers, Controller, etc. My impression is it may be easy to maintain? I see 'em with a variety of engines, from Jabiru to Rotax to Continentals.
I really like the Zodiac. Mine has the dual stick option (which I also like), but friends have the "Y" stick which they say makes entrance and exit easier without the stick getting in the way. Personally, I've never felt the stick between my legs to be a problem. I flew aero club T-34s with sticks when I was in the Air Force and prefer them to control wheels, but have owned a C150 and a C172 with control wheels so my preference for sticks isn't exclusive. My Zodiac is an SLSA manufactured by AMD and has the "B" structural upgrade that was done by an FAA certified repair station. I converted it to experimental so I could maintain it myself, and it's a very easy airplane to maintain. The cowling between the firewall and the instrument panel is easily removable with machine screws for access behind the instrument panel to get to wiring, pitot-static tubing, etc., and there's a large hinged access panel in the fuselage aft belly big enough to get your whole upper body inside for maintenance.
The handling is responsive but stable, and I describe it in terms of the way automobiles I'm familiar with handle. The Zodiac is like my Porsche 914-6 compared to a Cessna 172 which handles more like a Chevy sedan.
The Zodiac isn't an aerobatic airplane, so if that's something you want you'll have to look elsewhere. As far as powerplants are concerned, the CH601XL was designed to accommodate a wide range of engines and Zenith supplies engine mount drawings for several popular engines. Personally, I'd avoid auto conversions with reduction gearing. My airplane is a 601XLi (the "i" is for IFR certified) and came from the factory with an O-200-A which is a 14 CFR Part 33 certificated engine. The O-200 is heavy, which limits useful load. If you want to carry full fuel and a passenger, I think a Rotax 912 is the way to go.
BTW, decades ago I visited Ladislao Pazmany at his home in San Diego and spent a couple of hours with him. I had purchased the plans for the PL-1, but when the PL-2 came out that was a little bigger and aesthetically more attractive, I called him and he invited me to visit. I left with a set of PL-2 plans (which I still have somewhere).