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Why didn't you buy/ build a Sonex?

Posted By:
Jack Silver
18
Posts
3
#1 Posted: 5/15/2010 08:58:49

Seem like a Sonex with a 120 HP Jabiru engine would match my flying.

 

Having never built anything, I'm not sure of what to look for in a kit in terms of "gotchas". I did see a plane based locally and decided on a center stick because the two stick option bumped into my privates when pulling the stick back. Also got a ride, determined that the Aerovee, although workable, would be a bit weak on high density altitude days at full load. Cockpit had similar space to a C-150 but with less headroom.

 

So...those that considered a Sonex, what didn't you like about it?

 

Those who built one- what would you change?

 

Thanks much!



Robert Frost
Homebuilder or Craftsman
38
Posts
2
#2 Posted: 5/15/2010 09:39:02

 

Hi Jack!

I did build a Sonex.  I have flown it about 150 hours.  It's a 3300 Jabiru and I fly off a short grass strip with trees at either end.  One end is an orchard, so you don't have to worry about getting over them.   About the only things I changed were the panel, the interior, the air vents and their locations and the link to the tailwheel. There might be a couple more minor things, but I really don't remember what they are.

I flew it to Oshkosh last summer and even with the 3300, there was one leg going towards Dodge county where groundspeed was only 120 or so. 

The next thing I'm going to change is the tailwheel.  I don't know if I'll go bigger or not as the small one has not been an issue for me unlike some others, but I want a bigger bearing surface for it to turn.

One thing you will find, anytime you change something it only costs you time and money.

I went with the dual stick as when I sit my legs naturally spread apart and I felt that would interfere with the stick movement. Although the full aft movement on the stick is slightly limited, I don't think I've ever had to pull further than what is comfortable, even doing loops.

Robert Frost Sonex #232 Jabiru 3300.

 



Wayne Daniels
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or CraftsmanAirVenture Volunteer
18
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8
#3 Posted: 5/16/2010 17:02:17

Jack,

     My Jab 3300 powered Sonex with dual controls now has 155 hrs on it. I have never had an issue with the controls hitting "anything". The only time you would pull it all the way back is on the ground checking for freedom of control movement. In flight gentle inputs are all that is required.

Wayne, Sonex N444SX - "Purple Haze", Oshkos

5-16-10.jpg



Time spent flying is not deducted from your lifespan!
Patrick Hoyt
Homebuilder or Craftsman
3
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0
#4 Posted: 5/20/2010 15:23:03 Modified: 5/20/2010 15:33:17

The Sonex was on my list of "finalists", but frankly it's just too small.  FWIW, I'm 6'3" and about 230 lbs.

Living in Minnesota, the Sonex factory isn't that far away, so that would have been a plus.  I did visit their facility, and sat in a couple different ones, including one that had some kind of "tall guy" modification that added 2" of headroom.

When I was in my "evaluation phase", my top 3 were the Sonex, the Zodiac 601XL, and the RV-9.  I test flew the RV and the Zodiac, but didn't fly the Sonex after sitting in it.

I selected the Zodiac, and 4 years later am nearing completion.

I keep going back and looking at that Xenos motorglider, or that Sonex Sport Acro (as a single seater I think it could work for me, but I don't know if my next airplane will be a single seater or not as I like to include my wife and friends in these things).

Patrick

 

 



Joe Scheibinger
Homebuilder or Craftsman
16
Posts
6
#5 Posted: 5/21/2010 11:47:43

Hi Jack,

I love the little Sonex airplane. Having the manufacturer in my back yard was another reason I love the Sonex. It looks like an easy build and the numbers are impressive. It also seems to be a fairly inexpensive airplane to build as far as kits go.

Unfortunately, I don't fit well in the Sonex. It would have been a one person airplane for me, cramped and uncomfortable. I decided to build the Zenith Zodiac 601 XL with the Jab 3300 engine. I am close to finishing the plane and even after a couple of years of ownership, I am very happy with my decision. The 601 XL fills my needs as far as range, gross weight, comfort, etc.

The new Zenith 750 is a rip roaring success! Take a peek at that kit and see what you think.

Good luck with whatever project is in your future!

 

Joe

 

 



Joe S.
Jack Silver
18
Posts
3
#6 Posted: 5/22/2010 18:14:51

Thanks for the feedback everyone! Also, thanks to the EAA forum administrators that tagged this post onto the weekly e-mail!

 

So far, no one has mentioned anything I didn't really know about. As for pulling the stick back, there seemed to be some kind of linkage just behind the stick that was annoying me- it was under a leather trim skirt. I couldn't figure what it was, but it stuck up above the seat cushion- did I mention it was annoying? whatever it was may have been particular to that build.

 

I will look at some other kits, but the Sonex does put a fair amount of bang into an inexpensive and small package.



Andy Walker
Homebuilder or Craftsman
19
Posts
2
#7 Posted: 5/24/2010 10:06:17
Jack Silver wrote:

 

Thanks for the feedback everyone! Also, thanks to the EAA forum administrators that tagged this post onto the weekly e-mail!

 

So far, no one has mentioned anything I didn't really know about. As for pulling the stick back, there seemed to be some kind of linkage just behind the stick that was annoying me- it was under a leather trim skirt. I couldn't figure what it was, but it stuck up above the seat cushion- did I mention it was annoying? whatever it was may have been particular to that build.

 

I will look at some other kits, but the Sonex does put a fair amount of bang into an inexpensive and small package.

 

 

Beware, I was going to build a center stick Sonex, but ended up deciding to go dual stick.  The reason is that with two people in a center stick Sonex, you have to keep your right shoulder "rolled out" to fly due to the stick position.  When you have two people in the plane this will make it more cramped as your shoulder pushes into your passenger.  With a dual stick you can roll/twist your shoulder forward a bit and make more room for both you and the passenger.  The Sonex people at the factory mentioned this issue to me, and said that's the reason they sell about 90% dual sticks.

I'm planning to build dual sticks and make the right stick removable, since my wife is not a pilot and doesn't need the stick in her way when we travel.

Good luck!





Robert Johnson
Homebuilder or Craftsman
3
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0
#8 Posted: 7/2/2010 01:13:45
Patrick Hoyt wrote:

 

I keep going back and looking at that Xenos motorglider...

 

 

 

 

The Xenos would have been my first choice except that plane is *way* too small. At 6'6" even the tall guy mod isn't close to adequate for me, even if I flew it single-seat. I've always been curious if anyone taller than 6' has ever comfortably flown (or flown in) a Sonex.

 



Eric Marsh
Homebuilder or Craftsman
49
Posts
7
#9 Posted: 7/7/2010 23:36:39

Early on I was seriously considering the Sonex. I was also considering a Van's RV-6/7. Here's the things that made me decide to go with the RV (I'm building an RV-6 now).

The Sonex looked pretty affordable at first but when I looked closer the $ gap between it and the RV started to close up. For example,  there is a $2k premium on the Sonex if the various sub-assembly kits are not all purchased at the same time. Then there are quite a few pieces that need to be machined or can be purchased from Sonex, once again at an additional cost.

Suddenly the kit wasn't so inexpensive. In fact if I were to purchased the kit one subassembly at a time (which is the only way that I could afford to do so) the cost of the basic airframes were not all that far apart.

Then there was performance. Essentially, the RV is a pretty solid 40-50 miles an hour faster than the Sonex. That's not insignificant. On the other hand the Sonex does go much farther on a drop of gas, which is a good thing.

I was somewhat concerned about the long term durability of the VW engine. The Jab seems to be a fine piece of engineering but again I could get a nice mid hour Lycoming for the cost of the Jab.

Essentially, I expected to pay a bit more for an RV but not THAT much more and I expected to get a lot more airplane (and more shoulder room).

So how did it work out?

Well, I kept my eyes opened and found myself a RV-6A fusalage, wing and and two emp kits all for $6500. A few pieces are missing but not many. So I've already done a lot of catch up on the low price of a Sonex. Who knows, if I find the right prices on an engine I might even be able to put my RV together for somewhere around the $25k that Sonex says their Aero-V model can be built for.

Having said all that, I will also say that the Sonex appears to be a pretty neat little airplane and I did give it serious consideration. But I decided to take a different route for the reasons I explained.



Richard Smith
Homebuilder or Craftsman
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#10 Posted: 7/9/2010 15:31:11

I considered a Sonex and became good friends with a local very experienced builder who had one about 75% done.  Just as I was about to order a kit John Monnet basically quit supporting him because he inquired about using another, locally available  tailwheel....  this turned into a situation where Monnet refused to supply parts to a builder who had paid in full.  The emails I saw from Monnet convinced me to look elsewhere.



Rick 07TangoSierra Texas
Andy Walker
Homebuilder or Craftsman
19
Posts
2
#11 Posted: 7/14/2010 08:12:34
Richard Smith wrote:

 

I considered a Sonex and became good friends with a local very experienced builder who had one about 75% done.  Just as I was about to order a kit John Monnet basically quit supporting him because he inquired about using another, locally available  tailwheel....  this turned into a situation where Monnet refused to supply parts to a builder who had paid in full.  The emails I saw from Monnet convinced me to look elsewhere.

 

 

There is more to this story than just somebody wanting to use a different tailwheel, guaranteed.

The Sonex folks are *very* open to modifications of their design, and builders making the airplane to their own needs and specifications.  in no way are they dogmatic about having to follow the plans in every detail.  That said, keep in mind that John Monnett has already been bankrupted once because a builder decided to build one of his designs with hardware store parts and hardware, and his heirs decided to sue.  The Sonex people are entirely aware of the liability issues involved in experimental aircraft.  If you try to do something in your build that the consider unsafe or uses substandard hardware, they will do everything in their power to change your mind. 

I can certainly see John refusing to support a design he sees as unsafe, as a matter of self-preservation.   



Jon Crew
Homebuilder or Craftsman
4
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#12 Posted: 7/28/2010 13:59:53

I live in RV country and have over 100 RVs that belong to my chapter members.  I bet I can't find one of them that built an RV for much less than 60 grand, and many for much more.  An RV is not a light sport with the exception of the 12 and If you hung 180 horses on a sonex, you would be going over 200 knots cruise.  Most flying is done solo,  especially if you are flying for fun.  Can't do aerobatics in an RV or otherwise with a passenger unless you have parachutes.  Double the cost, for building, gas and maintenance, and the RV serves a different mission.  My next build will be an RV or a composite plane.  But with the Sonex, I can fly with a big bunch of fun for 1/2 the cost.  Performance with my 3300 sonex is almost equivalent to the 6 and if I changed the prop and opted out of the light sport, I would be cruising at 180-190 mph as well.

 

Kit wise, the RV airframe cost is as good or better for what you get.  The costs go way up when you get to the panel, and firewall forward.  Oh by the way, the average build time is more for an RV, with the exception of the 12, as well. 



Neal Miller
IAC Member
23
Posts
4
#13 Posted: 12/16/2010 05:24:16
Andy Walker wrote:

Beware, I was going to build a center stick Sonex, but ended up deciding to go dual stick.  The reason is that with two people in a center stick Sonex, you have to keep your right shoulder "rolled out" to fly due to the stick position.  When you have two people in the plane this will make it more cramped as your shoulder pushes into your passenger.  With a dual stick you can roll/twist your shoulder forward a bit and make more room for both you and the passenger.  The Sonex people at the factory mentioned this issue to me, and said that's the reason they sell about 90% dual sticks.

I'm planning to build dual sticks and make the right stick removable, since my wife is not a pilot and doesn't need the stick in her way when we travel.

Good luck!

 

So the consensus seems that the dual sticks actually offers more room than center stick?

I keeping looking at the Xenos.  My wife even says she likes the look and Sonex's track record.

Is making one stick detachable legit? My wife don't fly yet either, but she's creeping up on the idea.

 

 



Terrifying Flying Service. If you fly with us once, you'll never fly with anyone else.
Bradford Griswold
Homebuilder or Craftsman
3
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1
#14 Posted: 12/23/2010 22:16:43

I'm in the initial stages of planning/starting building now. (I'm starting with the engine first though) For a very long time I considered the Sonex and looked at it as my first choice but after crunching MTOW and other numbers, it basically came down to either carrying a passenger or fuel. As much as I like the design, the Sonex really isn't a realistic option for me.

I believe I've finally settled on the Zodiac CH650 (unless I find something better in the intervening time).



Becky Shipman
Homebuilder or Craftsman
6
Posts
2
#15 Posted: 12/24/2010 13:24:32

I came to essentially the same conclusion - the Sonex isn't realistic in terms of payload for me and a passenger and fuel. I'm also looking at the Zodiac CH650B



Eric Witherspoon
Homebuilder or Craftsman
29
Posts
3
#16 Posted: 12/24/2010 22:11:03

Not 100%.  There are those few Sonex builders flying with the center stick because they sit in the middle, with their feet on the outer rudder pedals of each side.  As in, basically a big single-place airplane.  Some are big enough that they just don't give rides, ever, and then the others just put up with the less-than-ideal arrangement of a center stick when flying with a passenger.  As to making the RH stick "removeable" - you can't get rid of the lump that sticks up through the seat - because the stick's aileron function pivot point is ABOVE THE SPAR BOX, right out where you can see it if you don't have a stick boot installed.  So the only part you would be able to remove is the grip, because you have to leave a stub of a stick on there to attach the "removeable" stick back onto.  Go look at one and have the pilot peel off the stick boot and you'll see - there isn't much to "remove".  With two on board, my standard practice is to ask the right-seater to put their left arm on the seat back behind me (in the left seat).  That way, there's only one arm in the middle of the seat, and it's my right arm, flying the left stick.  When I let the right-seater take the controls, they fly with their right hand.  As for the "lump in the seat", that's part of all of them, again because the aileron pivot is above the spar box, and the elevator pivot is aft of the spar box.  Anyway, one more point I wanted to make - I don't know why you're even worried about detaching a right stick - all of my non-pilot passengers haven't noticed it at all, once they are strapped in.  They're too busy looking out the canopy, and the stick doesn't move around that much. 

Photos - stick full back, then stick full forward:


IMG_2671.jpg


IMG_2670.jpg

Keith Sanford
Homebuilder or Craftsman
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Posts
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#17 Posted: 12/28/2010 03:00:30

 The Zodiac CH650B was my first choice after doing plenty of research but now I'm opting for the Zodiac 601HD with the Jabiru 3300. Good payload and the polyhedral wing is proven. You can actually build the 601 "heavy duty" light sport compliant with a smaller power plant, but I've spoken to two 601HD builders, one with an Aerovee PP and one with the Jabiru 2200, and their only issue with their projects is lack of power.



Mark Gardner
Homebuilder or Craftsman
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0
#18 Posted: 1/2/2011 21:42:08

Im glad I ran into this forum!  Im currently planning to build the Zodiac 650B and like most others have looked into the sonex offerings as well.  I LOVED the info packet I purchased from sonex but after careful examination, the limited space and the limited MTOW has me looking at the 650B.  I was considering the erovee engine but after hearing the other comments...  I may have to re-think that.  I have some time!  The cabin room is larger in the 650 by less than 6"  but this is a huge amount when you have two people in there.  I have been trying to locate a local pilot with a 650 or 601 that I can sit in and feel it, or better yet go for a ride!  Im still looking!  I would drive a long ways to do this, any takers in WA?  Looks like it will be a zodiac for me though.



Jack Silver
18
Posts
3
#19 Posted: 1/5/2011 12:13:49

Eric-

 

Thanks for posting those pictures. I can see that it's the "aileron function pivot point" that was banging into my "junk"

 

-->Jack



Neal Miller
IAC Member
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4
#20 Posted: 1/9/2011 07:45:49
Jack Silver wrote: Eric- Thanks for posting those pictures. I can see that it's the "aileron function pivot point" that was banging into my "junk"  -->Jack

...must  resist  juvenile  impulses...

Always wear your seatbelt!

Neither gender would enjoy a ride overtop that stick in the event of a sudden stop!

 



Terrifying Flying Service. If you fly with us once, you'll never fly with anyone else.