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Advice please!

Posted By:
Joshua Gardner
Homebuilder or Craftsman
35
Posts
5
#1 Posted: 5/12/2010 19:07:43

I'm 14 now, and when I get my pilot's license, I want to either get started on or be working on a homebuilt project. Right now, the Sonex looks like the plane for me. I want a plane with a 500+ mile range so it can do cross country, a good aerobatic plane, low wings, doesn't matter what type of gear, and the speed doesn't really matter that much either, just something like 100 - 120+ mph. It needs to be LSA approved, and preferably all metal construction. I would like the price to be something I can earn over the course of a few years. Right now I have saved up $500! :) What are my choices?



Patrick Panzera
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or CraftsmanUltralight EnthusiastAirVenture Volunteer
58
Posts
23
#2 Posted: 5/13/2010 12:13:30

I think the Sonex may be a very good choice for you. It certainly meets your flying criteria, and it can be built from just plans, as opposed to having to shelling out thousands of dollars at one time for a kit.

Join the Sonex e-mail group on Yahoo. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sonextalk/ Hopefully you can find someone in the group that lives close that either has a flying Sonex, a project in process, or maybe even someone with a set of plans. 

Saturday is International Learn to Fly day. http://www.learntofly.org/ click the link and see if you can find an event near you and talk to the experimental aircraft builders there. 

Oh yeah, subscribe to Experimenter too. http://www.eaa.org/experimenter/ it's the homebuilder's newsletter. I hear the editor is pretty cool. 

Pat





Andy Gamache
Homebuilder or Craftsman
122
Posts
28
#3 Posted: 5/13/2010 23:15:50

Josh,

 

The Sonex sounds like a good fit for what you want to do. As mentioned by Patrick, you can buy the plans and scratch build it. Now here's something that you can do that's unique to your situation. Assuming that your school has a metal shop, contact the instructor about doing the project at school. They should have all the tools you need to built the parts and assemble them. An hour or two after school every day will do wonders for getting the project completed well before you graduate.

Good luck luck with it!!

 

Later!!

 

Andy



Roger Poyner
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or Craftsman
43
Posts
6
#4 Posted: 5/14/2010 01:35:49

A man after my own heart.  Congrats Josh you have just past two large hurdles.  The fisrst is you want to fly and are willing to work at it and the second is you know the design parameters of the plane you want.  The last one is something a lot of builders don't figure out until they see they are building the wrong plane.  I agree that looking for plans at your stage might be the best way to start.  You can add material as you have funds.  Welcome to the world of home building and if you need any help just holler.  Roger Poyner



Andy Gardner
Homebuilder or Craftsman
1
Post
0
#5 Posted: 5/16/2010 17:11:57

Hi Joshua,

As a fellow Gardner but one who is an EAA member living across the Atlantic in England I would agree with the others that have posted replies that the Sonex seems a good match for your requirements. But why wait until you have your licence to begin building.  As one of the other replies suggests you could approach your school for assistance with the build now and I bet that if you write direct to John and Jeremy Monnet at Sonex and explain your situation, that you will receive a sympathetic hearing and might even get some direct assistance from the manufacturer. After all, it would be very good PR for the manufacturer to be directly assisting the up and coming generation of pilots and builders, particularly one so young.  Anyway, good luck with the project and with learning to fly and welcome to the world of Sport Aviation.

Kind regards,

Andrew Gardner

EAA 110656

Harpenden.

Herts.

AL5 3AT

England



Jay Jacobs
Homebuilder or Craftsman
16
Posts
2
#6 Posted: 5/17/2010 11:21:25
Joshua Gardner wrote:

 

I'm 14 now, and when I get my pilot's license, I want to either get started on or be working on a homebuilt project. Right now, the Sonex looks like the plane for me. I want a plane with a 500+ mile range so it can do cross country, a good aerobatic plane, low wings, doesn't matter what type of gear, and the speed doesn't really matter that much either, just something like 100 - 120+ mph. It needs to be LSA approved, and preferably all metal construction. I would like the price to be something I can earn over the course of a few years. Right now I have saved up $500! What are my choices?

I don't follow the LSA or low and slow models enough to offer any usable advice.

But I would like to say I admire your ambition kid. Reminds me a bit of when I was your age.

Work hard and don't lose sight of your goal(s).

 

Jay

ATP

CL60, GIV, DA10, BE40

 



Joshua Gardner
Homebuilder or Craftsman
35
Posts
5
#7 Posted: 5/17/2010 16:15:57

Ok, thanks everyone. It looks like the Sonex is what I need. I'm finishing middle school right now (just 7 more days of school left!) and our middle school is new, just built a couple of years ago. So it has all the newest technology, including the workshop for students who do that class (I don't take the class but I've worked there before and am pretty sure I would be welcome there). Our high school, on the other hand, is 30, maybe 50+ years old, and does not have the newest technology. It still probably has a pretty good workshop, because the building team that builds a robot every year for a competition is usually better at the high school, but this year I know the high schoolers came to the middle school to build part of it...

Anyway, I was planning on building it from a kit, but maybe plans would be a better way to go since I can go ahead and get started on it. Are the alloys of aluminum the Sonex uses pretty universal? Something like 2024? Can I buy it at a hardware store or something? And I'll need tools too, since I don't think that either of the schools have anything for rivets or air drills and stuff like that... Oh, well now I'm just thinking to myself. I need to get out there and do some research!



Joanne Palmer
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or Craftsman
276
Posts
68
#8 Posted: 5/17/2010 16:44:16

the aluminum in most hardware stores is usually 6061 or 6063.  These are most likely NOT what your plans specify.  Most of the time the plans will specify 2024 or 7075 and those are avialable at aircraft supply houses like Wicks or Aircraft Spruce.

 

For tools I'd download or request a copy of the catalogs from ATS http://www.aircraft-tool.com/ and US tool http://www.ustool.com/store/cart.php?m=content&page=6 .  Pore over them and see what SORT of tools are used in sheet metal construction.  When you select your aircraft, these companies may have a "kit" of the majority of the tools you'll need. 



Wayne Daniels
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or CraftsmanAirVenture Volunteer
18
Posts
8
#9 Posted: 5/17/2010 17:09:31

Actually, the Sonex aluminum grade IS 6061-T6. Either the kit or plans built project is a great way to go. I built mine from a kit and have been flying it for over four years now!! Great plans to build from. Good Luck Joshua!

Wayne, Sonex N444SX, Oshkosh


5-16-10.jpg




Time spent flying is not deducted from your lifespan!
Joshua Gardner
Homebuilder or Craftsman
35
Posts
5
#10 Posted: 5/17/2010 17:37:47 Modified: 5/17/2010 17:38:34

Oh yeah... I forgot about aircraft supply stores. But if 6061 aluminum (does it have to be T-6, and is that commonly available?) is commonly available, I guess I should be able to find it at Lowe's or something. I'll check it out!

 

BTW, for future reference, I just go by Josh.



Wayne Daniels
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or CraftsmanAirVenture Volunteer
18
Posts
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#11 Posted: 5/17/2010 22:08:30

Josh,

   Yes, you do want the T-6. No, you will not find 6061-T6 at Lowes, etc. It is readily available from aviation suppliers (Wicks - Aircraft Spruce and others) and likely from most metal retailers. Google 6061-T6 and see what results you may get.  What part of the country are you located in? 


Wayne




Time spent flying is not deducted from your lifespan!
Steve Rice
Homebuilder or Craftsman
25
Posts
2
#12 Posted: 5/17/2010 22:21:43

Hi there Josh,

Great to see that you are so interested. Built my first plane when I was 20 (Thunder Gull), then flew it from California to Florida. GREAT learning experience when you are young. One word of caution, do a LOT of research on building your plane at school. Thanks to sue-happy people out there, most schools will NOT let you ever take your plane off of the property once you have built it. It would be a shame to spend all that time and money on something that you will never be able to use. Good luck on your venture.  Building a plane is a lot of fun, and flying them is even better



Michael Glasgow
Homebuilder or Craftsman
32
Posts
2
#13 Posted: 5/17/2010 23:55:39

Josh,  do a lot of research before you start buying parts and materials.   Get a copy of AC 43.13, ($26.95 + shipping thru Amazon, probably not available in the Kindle edition) which is an advisory circular written by the FAA.  It has to do with acceptable practices in building or re-building an aircraft.   It is probably not the most riveting book you will ever read (pun intended), but there is a pretty good bit of informationabout rivets and riveting in it.  The pop rivets that are used in most home built aircraft may appear to look like what you can buy at Lowes, but they are not even close in strength.  43.13 talks about rivets among other things.  The book has discussions about wood, welding, sheet metal. construction procedures, and almost everything else you will want to know about before you start building an airplane.  I did a search on Amazon for AC 43.13, and it was at the top of the list.  I also noticed a book titled Choosing Your Homebuilt : The One You'll Finish and Fly by Kenneth Armstrong for   for around $10 and up used or about $16. new.  I don't know anything on the reliability of the Armstrong book, but the AC 43.13 is as necessary for a homebulder as a Bible is for a Christian preacher, a Quran for a Muslim, a Torah for a Rabbi, etc. etc.  

The Sonex is a nice airplane and there are a large number of them flying.  There are quite a few other airplanes that could also be a good choice for your project.  If you pick something other than a Sonex, pick an aiplane that has a high completion rate.  Two of the things a high completion rate indicates is the difficulty of the build, and the support from the designer.  Both are very important on a first airplane build

Good luck



Long flights, smooth air, and soft landings,
Joshua Gardner
Homebuilder or Craftsman
35
Posts
5
#14 Posted: 5/18/2010 20:12:07

I'm near Birmingham, Alabama. I found the right aluminum at Wick's and Aircraft Spruce, and I'm assuming they have the right rivets too. But it seems like the more I learn, the more money I need. $600 for plans, money for sheet metal, $800 for tools, etc. I almost have enough for plans, and might as well go ahead and get them so I can study them and decide what I need, right? My dad says I probably won't use it for another 5 or 10 years. He's been skeptical about my devotion to learning to fly from the start. I guess he just thinks I can't earn more than $1000 or that I'll get bored and give up. With a regular job this summer, I should earn more money. I hope I can start soon!



Matthew Long
Homebuilder or Craftsman
122
Posts
12
#15 Posted: 5/19/2010 06:53:59

Joshua, on a purely financial basis that is probobly not the way to go.  Often times even airworthy homebuilt aircraft can be had for less second-hand than it would cost to just to purchase the materials and components new.  You may also be able to buy a share in a jointly-owned aircraft with a few partners, or join a club that shares one or more aircraft.

I would get involved in a local EAA Chapter and invest your money in some initial flying lessons to be sure that this is for you as well as starting to save for an aircraft purchase.  I think if you show an active interest and some serious dedication to raising money to support your flying you should be able to find local EAA members who would lend a hand, perhaps donating an incomplete project or providing low-cost instruction.

If you are bound and determined to build your own aircraft, and I certainly don't want to discourage that, I think you should probably look at something much cheaper and lower-performance than what you outlined in your initial post.  Something simple like a rag-and-tube or wood-and-fabric design would suit your budget better, I think.



******* Matthew Long www.cluttonfred.info
Michael Glasgow
Homebuilder or Craftsman
32
Posts
2
#16 Posted: 5/19/2010 12:23:38

On a tight budget, a stick and rag airplane is probably the least expensive way to go.  Tube, stick and rag is probably the next least expensive way to go.  All metal will probably be the most expensive route.  A Pietenpol is one of the least expensive routes on a stick and rag airplane.  There is a large base of builders on the Piet, so there is a large knowledge base out there.  There are quite a few people currently building using a Corvair conversion for power.   In the Birmingham area, you are fairly close to sea level, so you don't have to have as much power as you would in the Denver area for example.  The piet is not as sexy as a Sonex, but it is a fun airplane, and can be built with much lower expense.  There is a chat group here: http://www.matronics.com/Navigator?Pietenpol-List  where you can get a lot of information.  If you post on the chat group, please use some courtesy, and research the archives before you ask questions.  Some of the questions you have, may have been asked a month ago, or even a year ago, and the answers will be there.  The plans for the Piet are not expensive and can be found here: http://www.pressenter.com/~apietenp   William Wynne, who many consider to be the leading expert on Corvair conversions, has a website here:  http://www.flycorvair.com 

The Pietenpol can be started on a small budget, and materials purchased as finances permit.  Most of the builders start with the ribs, for cost and space reasons.  It doesn't cost much to build ribs, and it doesn't take a lot of space.  Tail feathers next, same reasons.  The powerplant is probably the largest single purchase on any homebuilt.  In case any of the links don't work, you can do a cut and paste, and that should do the job. 

If the largest priority is to build an airplane that you will be able to fly, do some more research, decide what is realistic on your budget, and go from there.  Speed costs more money.  Most of the stick and rag airplanes don't set any speed records, but they still fly, and many fly quite well.  Being in the air is what it is all about.  
wink



Long flights, smooth air, and soft landings,
Joshua Gardner
Homebuilder or Craftsman
35
Posts
5
#17 Posted: 5/19/2010 16:19:56 Modified: 5/19/2010 16:24:31

I've already taken a couple of flight lessons in the past that were paid for by other people, and I love flying. I think it's worth some extra expense, because after I get my pilot's license I want to get aerobatic training, and the Sonex has aerobatic capabilities. I need to research stick and rag airplanes first to see if they can do aerobatics, but as of right now I'm pretty set on a Sonex. I'll find a way to get the money.

 

And I've figured that with a regular job, I can make about $2,300 over the summer working full-time. But that's without vacations, so it's less than that. I'm also making money cutting grass, and that pays pretty well, when people are hiring. That's what I've made all of my money from over the past 3 weeks. Right now, I'm just earning money. I'll decide what exactly to spend it on later.



Matthew Long
Homebuilder or Craftsman
122
Posts
12
#18 Posted: 5/20/2010 17:55:20

Another far less expensive option that comes close to meeting all your criteria is a second-hand Sonerai II, the grandfather of the Sonex.  Metal wings, rag-and-tube fuselage, good performance on modest power if you don't need to get out in and out of backcountry strips.  See <http://www.greatplainsas.com/sonerai.html>

There happen to be two good-looking ones, one low-wing and one mid-wing, for sale right now at Barnstormers.com <http://www.barnstormers.com/Experimental,%20Sonerai%20Classifieds.htm> and both for less that $10,000.  Even if it turned out to need a new engine, that would still get  you in the air a long more quickly and cheaper than building a Sonex.

If I still lived in the States, I'd be tempted to go out to Minnesota to buy that orange one myself!



******* Matthew Long www.cluttonfred.info
Jack Silver
18
Posts
3
#19 Posted: 5/22/2010 18:49:34
Michael Glasgow wrote:

 

Josh,  do a lot of research before you start buying parts and materials.   Get a copy of AC 43.13, ($26.95 + shipping thru Amazon, probably not available in the Kindle edition) which is an advisory circular written by the FAA.  It has to do with acceptable practices in building or re-building an aircraft.   It is probably not the most riveting book you will ever read (pun intended), but there is a pretty good bit of informationabout rivets and riveting in it.  The pop rivets that are used in most home built aircraft may appear to look like what you can buy at Lowes, but they are not even close in strength.  43.13 talks about rivets among other things.  The book has discussions about wood, welding, sheet metal. construction procedures, and almost everything else you will want to know about before you start building an airplane.  I did a search on Amazon for AC 43.13, and it was at the top of the list.  I also noticed a book titled Choosing Your Homebuilt : The One You'll Finish and Fly by Kenneth Armstrong for   for around $10 and up used or about $16. new.  I don't know anything on the reliability of the Armstrong book, but the AC 43.13 is as necessary for a homebulder as a Bible is for a Christian preacher, a Quran for a Muslim, a Torah for a Rabbi, etc. etc.  

The Sonex is a nice airplane and there are a large number of them flying.  There are quite a few other airplanes that could also be a good choice for your project.  If you pick something other than a Sonex, pick an aiplane that has a high completion rate.  Two of the things a high completion rate indicates is the difficulty of the build, and the support from the designer.  Both are very important on a first airplane build

Good luck

 

Mike- thanks for the information. I didn't know about AC 43.13 but I'll buy it now... I wonder what else I really need to know...

 

 



Mike Clayton
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or Craftsman
7
Posts
2
#20 Posted: 5/24/2010 08:40:04

I would agree that the Sonex is a good choice.  I know of several people who have built them, or are building them.  They are a high quality product, and the folks at Sonex/AeroVee are very good and very helpful.  Another possible choice might be the Thatcher CX-4.  Their website is located at   http://www.thatchercx4.com/index.html.  You would probably want to build from plans, but the performance characteristics are similar to the Sonex.  It is also powered by a VW engine.



Mike Clayton
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