James (Jim) Hannington

First Flight Zenith Tr-Z VH-JRH

Back in his 40’s my dad was an Engineer with the Engines Division of The Bristol Aeroplane Company, based at Filton, England. He was also the Flight Engineer on the Bristol Freighter sales trip that took them up the Americas both South & North. I remember him telling me some of his tales of that trip, like having to find ways to keep the fabric covering down on the wing frame in Brazil where it had suffered from temperature and humidity.

After a career change to farmer, and 15 years of farming in Sussex, he emigrated to Oz, and later, after retiring, proceeded to build a Zenith CH300 Tr-Z. My brother Bob helped him with the build.

Of course, in those days it was all CAO101.28, no experimental, I pulled a few rivets when I was in Oz on leave.

Bob did some of the flight testing when it was complete, although Dad did the very first flight. I remember it, because he had a serious control problem when he put the flap full down to 40deg for landing. At full flap it caused the elevator to stall, with loss of pitch control. Dad managed to get it on the ground okay. The fix was to limit the flap travel to 25deg.

He and Graham Hewitt flew the Tri-Z to Mangalore in Dec 1984. I remember Graham telling me lots of stories about my Dad and his foibles from that trip. Very believable and typical of my Dad.

Dad passed away in 1992, and my brother Bob took over ownership of the aircraft and kept it in his hangar at Albany until he finally decided to sell it. Unfortunately, within a few months, the purchaser had a heavy landing and prop strike, and gave the wreck back to my brother who repaired it, but by then the engine needed replacing. The airframe was eventually sold to another purchaser from eastern states.