In autumn 1973 was decided in Moravan Otrokovice to develop a new single aerobatic plane. Chief-designer Jan Mikula prepared with his colleagues project with type symbol Zlin Z-50 (many pilots now use only “fifty”). During constructional works was used computer optimization for better aerodynamic characteristic. The main problem of construction was to find out the best engine for this aerobatic aircraft. Because there were no engines accordant with the needs of aerobatic aircraft there in Czechoslovakia, designers had to find an engine outside the country. They found American Avco Lycoming AIO-540 D4B5 with power of 191 kW (260 PS) and three-blade propeller Hartzell.
The second requirement for this Aerobatics Plane was maximal unloading of construction. That’s why designers have used continuous wing that was screwed to the airframe. This type of wing with its weight reduction is better for its lifetime.
Landing gear is continuous from one piece of titan stripe. Tiny layer of metal covers airframe, some parts of tail and elevator are covered with cloth. The main tank can hold 60 liters of fuel, which is must only for an aerobatic display, so for cross-country flight is almost impossible to fly without additional dismountable tanks on both ends of wings. Design works, construction and building of the first prototype took only one and half year (!!!). On 30th June 1975 was carried-out engine test.
The First Flight has been undertaken on 18th July 1975 with the chief-pilot Vlastimil Berg. The first Zlin Z-50 L (“L” = Lycoming Engine) had mark OK-070. Set of first flights was very successful and confirmed all the designer’s premises. Czech Aerobatic Team could bargain for this plane in World Aerobatic Championship 1976…
With Z-50 L type grew up first fabricated special Aerobatic Airplane in the world. It was constructed by the FAR regulations and pilots can fly many aerobatic maneuvers from +9G to – 6G.
In 1981 year was into the Zlin Z-50 installed more powerful Textron Lycoming AEIO-540 L1B5D with 224 kW (300 PS). This version – type Zlin Z-50 LS – was first flown by Zdenek Polasek on 29th July 1981. The more powerful engine boosted mainly the vertical maneuvers. Zlin Z-50 LS can with weight of 760 kg fly from +8G to –6G in Aerobatic Planes (A category), and between +3,8 and –1,5 in N category. Many of Z-50 L and LA versions were rebuilt to Z-50 LS in early eighties.
Another version coming from Zlin Z-50 Aircraft is “baby fifty” – Z-50M with weaker Avia engine M-137AZ with 132 kW (180 PS). It was constructed for replacement older and inconvenient Z-526AFS, which were often converted to N (normal) category and are still used as a tug planes on many aero club airports.
Z-50M is able to fly from +7G to –5,5G. There were only eight Z-50M machines manufactured.
On April 1990 was prepared for its first flight modified Z-50 LS, now under Z-50 LE (Experimental). It had modified wings for better maneuverability. This type stayed only as prototype.
The last version of Zlin 50 is known as Z-50 LX. Z-50LX had its first flight in 1991 by chief-pilot Vladmir Peroutka. Big share on developing this plane has also show pilot Victor Norman, who wanted additional tanks installed inside wings and strong “smoke system” for shows as well. From 1992 to 1995 were built 7 pieces Z-50LX, and four of them are also used by well known and fantastic Red Bull Flying Bulls Team.