Finally I find a moment to write this blog. This story begins November 7 when I boarded a flight to Beijing. This is the first leg that will take me effectively around the world in some 3 weeks. Twice!

My first stop is Beijing to attend the e-flight Forum. Here is the forum description:

Flying Pages GmbH together with our Chinese co-host partner Z-Park General Aviation Alliance, one of the largest GA industry association in China with over 60 member entities, want to introduce electric aviation concept to China and to bridge the global e-aviation technology with the Chinese investors and market. We believe that now is the right time to promote electric aviation in China because of the rising awareness of environmental issues in the Chinese society; the Chinese government’s ambitious development plan for the general aviation development by 2020 and strong support for technological innovation; suitable electric airplanes to meet China’s GA operation needs; and the high momentum of e-mobility at large in China.

This was an excellent forum with plenty of short presentations many from friends of mine that are working toward creating viable electric-powered aircraft. I probably should write a dedicated blog just to this meeting. I will say that the electric Zigolo R&D is pushing forward  so that is even more incentive to finish this work. Hard to do when sitting on an airliner so much this month.

Next stop is a flight to Yuncheng then a 2-hour drive to some small city on the yellow river. I accepted a contract to assemble a Zigolo for one of Francesco’s customers. It was a perfect plan to get out of the stinkn hot Florida summer for a couple weeks except by the time everything was in place and funds transferred it was already November! Well, that should not be a problem. Not ideal, but still once I agree to do something I do it. No one told me the assembly hangar was unheated! So first stop was shopping for extra socks and long underwear.

Another challenge was the absolute minimum tool collection set aside for me to use. Good thing I bought clecos and cleco pliers with me. This village is so small that even the pinking shears had to be mail-ordered.

Hardly any tools but we managed. Had a vice grip…  Photo of the kit spread out in the freezing hangar.

Our customer, Mr. Ding, is a very enthusiastic aviator. He flys his trike and para-motor off a short field next to the Yellow River. This is just a few kilometers from his factory so workers just load the fully-rigged trike on a trailer and take it out to the strip for his morning patrols.

Now I have some serious motivation to get this Zigolo done before I freeze to death. Temperatures in the morning are only just barely above freezing with frost on the windows. I really thought this would be impossible until Mr. Ding carted out his German expresso maker. Civilization arrived!

German espresso maker! Plus photo from local restaurant.

My translator is one of Mr. Ding’s Hong Kong-based employees and named Kit. Turned out it was easier for him to help with the assembly than try to explain to other workers what to do. So it was mostly Kit and I that built the Zigolo with 1 or 2 other workers doing some basic stuff like degreasing or cutting a tube here and there. My perfect plan of setting up work stations and simply monitoring the Chinese assembly failed right from the start. I had to know the kit was being assembled properly with the right bolts and rivets in the right spots. Half the time I would ask for a bolt to be tighten they would take it out. The other half they would over-tighten. So I just worked from one assembly to the next with my helpers helping where they could and under tight supervision.

The good news is this method still moved the kit assembly along smartly. Helps of course that I have already assembled several Zigolos so I don’t have to stare at the plans much.

Here are some progressive photos:

Day 1 was only ½ of a day due to travel.


So here we are basically ready to cover and paint after 6-1/2 days work and a few kilos of coffee beans sacrificed. Here is a short video:

I was supposed to stay in China to complete and test fly this Zigolo however I also have committed to a couple very important research programs in Dayton, Ohio. And they needed me to make test flight. So Saturday we drove 2 hours to Xi’an where I connected to Hong Kong then met my crazy Canadian friend Michael Agopsowicz for a Czech beer.

Michael has been working on setting up a Hong Kong-based air taxi with seaplanes for a few years:

Eventually I get out of freezing China to even colder Ohio! More clothes shopping and with some borrowed winter coats I manage to strap my back-up parachute on and fly to the test range to complete the mission.


Merlin has a BRS plus I have a back-up chute strapped on. Plus a few layers of clothes and borrowed winter coats. 35 degrees on the ground and a lot colder at 7,000 feet. Merlins now come standard with cabin heat. I need an upgrade!

A few days later, Thanksgiving Day actually, I am back on United heading toward Hong Kong and writing blogs until my battery runs out or my jet-lagged mind shuts down. After some 22 hours of travel to get to Hong Kong it takes another 12 hours to get to our build site.

Watch this space for China Zigolo Part II. GOAL: Finish and fly in 11 working days total!