Pete Zabriskie - Project Sonerai II-L "Christine" N127PZ

Pete's Sonerai IIL

March of 2006 a Sonerai project is found on

For Sale: Sonerai S-IIL, $4000.00 Yakima Washington John Berthelote second owner. Fusalage on gear, cowl, VW 1700cc Revmaster engine zero-time, wing sub-kits, canopy, various extra parts.

Sonerai on Trailer


Sonerai is a John Monnett design of the 1970's, initially made as a single seat 1600cc VW engine racer in Formula Vee class. Popularity prompted John to enlarge his successful plane to a 2 seater, albeit 2 rather small people. With the larger 1835cc VW or more substantial 2180cc VW it will perform with two passengers very well. Today builders can build VW's as large as 2276cc which will fly two people very adequately. Flown with a wooded prop only on the VW to prevent any crank or bearing failure, the cost of a Sonerai even today can come in under $15,000 dollars, and be maintained with largely off the shelf VW auto parts. 4130 steel tube fusalage with fabric covering, and 2024T aluminum wings, built from plans available from Steve Bennett at Great Plains Aircraft Supply Co. there are several sub-kits available. Sub-kits include pre-formed wing ribs and pre-bent spars, landing gear, fiberglass cowl, canopy, wingtips, and wheelpants. All of these came with my project along with a zero-time Revmaster 1700cc engine. With the welding complete and controls for rudder and elevator installed, the fuselage on it's gear with wheels and mechanical brakes, this was a heck of buy at

I visited John and invited EAA Tech Counselor Virgil D. Thovson of Ellensburg, WA., phone-(509)962-4156, to come look at the Sonerai. I liked what I saw. Virgil liked what he saw, except for the posa carb. Mr Thovson inquired who the original builder was, it is Travis S Mitchell of 801 S Maple Ellensburg, Wa 98926, as listed on 1st certificate of aircraft registration. Mr Thovson knew of Mr Mitchell and commented that his work was of good quality. NOTE: both Mr Mitchell and Mr Berthelote were employed as A&P personel at Cubcrafters of Yakima, Wa.. With a handshake and the exchange of a certified check John Berthelote and I closed the deal. We cashed his check, and loaded up the Sonerai (now nicknamed Christine) on my newly acquired 16' flatbed trailer (another story) and Christine and "Christine" and I were off down the road to Las Vegas, Nevada via the Great Basin Desert.


The fuselage and trailer you see pictured here are what I need to park. I plan to tarp the the whole fuselage for outdoors parking over the Summer. With luck our home search will be successful before Winter arrives.

hand shake


The first year “Christine” was home in Las Vegas, Nevada at our mobile home park. I fluted my pre-formed ribs, and began work on the right spar.


The next 5 years we were in Indiana and I boldly went where no sane builder should go before or again. Without tech guidance or near enough practice I drove my spar solid rivets.



The next year was spent drilling most of them out. With tech guidance and verrrry carefully.



The present finds us in New Mexico and with tech guidance again, thank you Will Fox, I have finally arrived at a successful method of setting solid spar rivets. Also thanks to Dave Roe for his 3x rivet gun. 

rivet gun


There have been lots of other developments, getting Viet-Vet Dave Pratt (field Huey repair) weld up a single-seat mod was a good day.As with all builders when anyone asks, “When are you gonna' finish”, the answer is, “It's 90% done, 90% to go”. With a little more help from my friends this year will get a little more accomplished. Thanks for your time, Pete Zabriskie   See this link for my complete builders site, and please sign the Log and leave any and all comments or suggestions.