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I'm considering homebuilding my first airplane, I need some suggestions for a project

Posted By:
Greg Schultz
58
Posts
1
#1 Posted: 1/24/2011 15:48:11 Modified: 1/27/2011 13:11:50

    Ok, as the topic suggests, I'm considering building my first airplane.  This plane will be my first to own and to build.  Below I've outlined the specifications that I need the plane to meet before I can consider the project.  Then I've outlined some "wants".  These are things that I would like the plane to have, but if they are missing I won't necessarily discard the idea of taking on that project.

   First you should know what consrtuction skills I possess as a first time builder:   In my younger days  I helped remodel my mothers house, from installing plumbing to building studwall and covering it with drywall.  I've run electrical, from installing outlets to hanging lights and ceiling fans.  I'm very familiar with wood construction, I've also done some costume building (a.k.a. sewing, if this has any application in aircraft)

 

 

Thats about my limit.  I've never done any welding or metal work to speak of.

 

*edit* after some considerations these are now what I'm looking for in a  kit or plans built plane:

  1. The finished plane must be LSA compliant (I can't get a class 3 medical)
  2. The plane needs to be inexpensive to build.  Preferably between $8k and $15k complete.  Although given the time involved, this may be 'negotiable'.
  3. Relatively quick build time and simple construction (Preferably manufacturer 'first time builder estimate of 500hrs or lesss, or pretty close to it).
  4. Enclosed cockpit (most kits can be modified for this from what I've seen)
  5. Practical X-Country flyer (I've amended what this means for me based on some reading and research.  Cruise speed of 75-80 mph will work, and a range of about 300 nm)

Any Suggestions are welome.



Ken Irwin
Homebuilder or Craftsman
1
Post
0
#2 Posted: 1/24/2011 20:37:02

check out the Sonex with aerovee engine.  I built it.  Its a grea flying plane- easy to build and low cost

Ken



Greg Schultz
58
Posts
1
#3 Posted: 1/24/2011 21:15:53

Thanks for the suggestion, I do have some questions about the Sonex kit that you built.  Did you build from the scratch or quick build kit?  How long did it take?  Was there any welding involved?  If so how complex or difficult was it?  Did you have to cut and form any parts from provided sheet metal stock?

Thanks for your time.



Rick Galati
Homebuilder or Craftsman
22
Posts
8
#4 Posted: 1/25/2011 07:02:38

Meeting that 15K limit will be the biggest challenge.  If you are willing to buy an airplane kit in pay-as-you-go stages,  you would be hard pressed to find a better value than an LSA compliant Van's RV-12.  Here's why. Thanks to computer generated advances in design and manufacturing, the kit parts are delivered to the builder predrilled which is a HUGE timesaver and the advantages that brings to the new builder with little skill or experience cannot be overstated.  Since the RV-12 is mostly assembled with blind fasteners set with a common hand pop riveter, traditional sheet metal skills are greatly mimimized.   Typically, you pull parts out of the shipping crate, cleco them together, ream to full size, disassemble, debur, reassemble, then rivet it all together.  No welding skills are required either because all welds are completed at the factory and those parts are shipped to the builder with a powdercoat finish. 

Another major construction plus is this. Learning new electrical skills is also minimized.  There is no waste or needless expense buying wiring components that you may or may not need.  That is because the wiring harness for the RV-12 is completely preassembled and when matched with the instruments called out in the builders plans is about as close to being plug and play a solution as you can get.  

As an EAA technical counselor, I have inspected an under construction RV-12 project and came away very impressed with the degree of sophistication written into the builders plans.  It contains many illustratioins and is written with clearly explained "bullet points."  You simply check off each bullet point as you proceed along the assembly process.  In no time at all, that collection of parts will take the shape of a real airplane. 

Finally, builder support is widely available and is part of quite likely the largest single group of aircraft builders in the entire experimental aviation homebuilding community.  By joining the RV community, especially Van's AirForce (VAF) you will quickly discover that there is not a single challenge you will face that has not been dealt with by someone before and the solution shared among the VAF membership over and over again.

There are some good airplanes out there that meet your performance specifications and the RV-12 easily exceeds many of your stated requirements with a speed similar to that of a Cessna 172.  There are many things the RV-12 with its set of quickly removable wings can do, but the one thing the RV-12 cannot do is meet that 15K limit.



Rick Galati RV-6A N307R "Darla!" RV-8 N308R EAA Technical Counselor
Robert Melis
5
Posts
0
#5 Posted: 1/25/2011 07:55:25

I'm building an RV-12 as a first-time builder, and can fully vouch for what Rick says.  Although the RV-12 won't meet your $15K limit, you can buy each of the six very well engineered and complete sub-kits over time, and you will finish up with a first class LSA aircraft. The level of support that is available through the VAF forums is outstanding, especially for a first time builder.

rgmwa

Western Australia



Greg Schultz
58
Posts
1
#6 Posted: 1/25/2011 08:52:44

Sounds like a great first build plane.  So, ballpark, how much am I looking at for a total build cost (minus engine, which I might be able to find a good used engine)?



Matt Iso
2
Posts
0
#7 Posted: 1/25/2011 13:57:13

Sorry for the off topic questions, but Greg I was curious about your icon attached to your profile? Coyote icon?



Greg Schultz
58
Posts
1
#8 Posted: 1/25/2011 14:21:48

For the off topic question an off topic reply:

It's a silhouetted wolf howling at the moon.  I fly a WWII combat flight simulator called IL-2 Sturmovik.  My call sign is Lupus and I use the icon as nose art on the custom skins I fly.

 



Robert Melis
5
Posts
0
#9 Posted: 1/25/2011 18:05:15
Greg Schultz wrote:

 

Sounds like a great first build plane.  So, ballpark, how much am I looking at for a total build cost (minus engine, which I might be able to find a good used engine)?

 

Builders in the US are reporting about $65k to $75k all up, depending on options and paint. ($85k-$100k in Australia!).

Keep in mind that if you build it as E-LSA you have to buy everything from Vans, including a new engine (Rotax 912ULS).  You can also choose to go EAB, but the RV-12 is designed around the Rotax, so putting another type of engine in it won't be easy. There is one company that is trialling a Jab2200 installation, but they haven't got it flying yet.

Here's a link to the RV-12 forum on the VAF website. You should be able to find answers to your questions there. Friendly bunch of guys always ready to help. 

http://www.vansairforce.com/community/forumdisplay.php?f=73

Also check Vans'  website:

http://vansaircraft.com/index.htm

BTW, the Sonex is worth looking at too. Very good performance on less HP (VW engine). Cheaper to build but also smaller and probably not as complete. If you want high-wing, maybe a Savannah or Kitfox, but these are not all-aluminium, and they are not as fast.

There are quite a few LSA aircraft kits around, but for my money, the RV-12 is probably the best tested and engineered kit out there.

rgmwa

 

 

 



Greg Schultz
58
Posts
1
#10 Posted: 1/25/2011 21:40:05

Thanks for the info, but at that price, and with my disposable income, it would take me about 30 years to pay for the plane kit. I'd probably end up divorced as well.  I might be able to streatch 20k over a period of time, but that would mean planning on building over more than 10 years.  Or will the banks finance a kit?

 

I would actually prefer a high wing, and have considered the kitfox, but  I don't like the diagonal down rod right through the middle of the pilots view.  I'll take a look at the Savannah.  I have been considering some more "ultralight like" LSA's like the Rans S-12 and the Kolb Mk3x, but I"m not real happy about their limited range (and small fuel tanks) and low Vne.



Robert Melis
5
Posts
0
#11 Posted: 1/26/2011 03:15:33

OK. Best thing I can suggest is get a copy of Kitplanes magazine Dec 2010 (Vol 27, Number 12). There are 320 kit aircraft listed (and pictured) that you can build/buy.  Many of them are LSA.  Estimated costs are also given as a guide. Hope you find one that ticks all the boxes. Good luck.

rgmwa



David Darnell
61
Posts
18
#12 Posted: 1/26/2011 08:45:02

  May  be a silly question, but pertinent, and no one else has appeared to ask it yet. Single or Twin Seats?

Since you have mentioned you are most familiar with wood construction, you would possibly be well served as to build from plans instead of a kit. One possibility I'd look at would be the Jodel/ Falconar series



Greg Schultz
58
Posts
1
#13 Posted: 1/26/2011 11:21:07 Modified: 1/26/2011 11:35:03

I would prefer two seater, but I'm not hung up on it as my wife is afraid of flying and has only promised me that she would 'try one trip around the pattern' with me to see how she feels about it.

I'm not familiar with the Jodel/Falconar series.  I'll take a look.

*edit*

I'm not sure if I found a website for those planes or not, if you can provide a link that would be great.  I must say though, the aircraft look very complicated to build.  Any idea on the build times for those? or the estimated build cost?

*edit 2*

The planes look great.  However, I think that for a first time builder it would quickly turn into one of those projects that got started and never finished.  Unless you have a link for some source that provide complete plans and some building instructions.



Greg Schultz
58
Posts
1
#14 Posted: 1/26/2011 11:50:36
David Darnell wrote:

 

  May  be a silly question, but pertinent, and no one else has appeared to ask it yet. Single or Twin Seats?

Since you have mentioned you are most familiar with wood construction, you would possibly be well served as to build from plans instead of a kit. One possibility I'd look at would be the Jodel/ Falconar series

Ok, so after further reading, This is a plane that I would really like to build, although I'm still not sure about making it my first built plane.  The raw materials cost seems to be within my limits, particularly considering that I can purchase the wood as I go.  I like what the Jodel site I found has to say, but this still leaves me with the problem of being unsure about finding complete building plans or building directions.



Carl Orton
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or CraftsmanAirVenture Volunteer
87
Posts
16
#15 Posted: 1/26/2011 13:04:06

Hi, Greg;

Since Ken hasn't replied yet, I'll throw a few Sonex data points out there.

You can build a Sonex with AeroVee from a kit for around $26K as advertised on their website. Your decisions on how extensive a panel to build will drive that more than anything. Also, depending on your proximity to Class B/C airspace, you may/may not need a transponder.

The Sonex is available as a plans-built product as well. $600 for the plans, and the only other item you MUST purchase from Sonex are the spar caps. Don't recall what they run. They give you the dimensions for every other part out there. I have a friend who built his that way. You can get the raw materials for (? - no idea) less than $5000 (I've heard a 2-3K figure tossed about, but figured on the heavy side).

HOWEVER, if you go with the plans-only side, you can still purchase all your welded items (or any part for that matter) directly from Sonex. Will cost you more, but if you want to get several sheets of skins, you can cut your own materials, then buy the motor mount, gear, etc., and the fiberglass, and get out quite economically.

I went the kit route. Since I'm under the DFW mode C veil, I had to get a transponder. I also went glass panel. I think I've got $29-30K in mine so far, and I'm basically done.

Carl

http://mykitlog.com/corton



- Carl
Greg Schultz
58
Posts
1
#16 Posted: 1/26/2011 13:49:07

The Sonex sounds like a great aircraft and one I would really enjoy flying.  The problem is I have next to no metal working experience or tools.  This means that scratch building the Sonex would have a huge learning curve, and one that, to be honest, I find more than a little intimidating.  The kit option doesn't sound to bad, but this adds a lot to the expense, enough that it is realistically probably out of my price range, at least for the time being.

I find myself much more comfortable with the thought of scratch building out of wood and fabric, mostly because of my experience working with these two materials in the past. 



Daniel Zinni
2
Posts
0
#17 Posted: 1/26/2011 15:52:23

Take a look at the Volksplane.  There is a group on yahoo and Evans has a web site..  This year there should be one at oshkosh.  It is wood and fabric and you buy the materials as you need them.  Some members make a few parts like bushings for a very reasonable fee.  The 2 place VP2 is built with a covair engine.  



Greg Schultz
58
Posts
1
#18 Posted: 1/26/2011 16:49:31

Wow, nice.  Seems to meet most of my requirements, but god it definetly doesn't get any points for being pretty

I'll take a look at the Yahoo group, if I can find it, and see what they have to say about build cost and materials.  I'm wondering if you could use an engine besides a modified VW.



Irv Russell
Homebuilder or Craftsman
1
Post
0
#19 Posted: 1/26/2011 17:27:16

Hello Greg,

After reading your post, I realized we had a very similar situation. I researched several of the planes (Sonex, Zenith, RANS etc) mentioned by others who responded to you, all great aircrafts with wonderful features. Many hours of research and matching my requirements, I decided on the Thatcher CX4 (it's a plans built aircraft). Check it out....I think you will like what find. Here's the website: 

http://www.thatchercx4.com/

All The Best,

Irv Russell aka "Bizzflyer"



Terry Ridgeway
Homebuilder or Craftsman
7
Posts
0
#20 Posted: 1/26/2011 18:01:48

Greg , you might look at  a Wagaero Sport Trainer . A Cub copy . available as plans built ,LSA quailified . See their Web site .

 

                http://www.wagaero.com/sportrain.html

You can buy as you go , and there is  a Yahoo group for these planes. The Plans are pretty good ,  it's typical Rag and Tube Construction , so there is ALOT of people around with That Building Experience .  should be economical to Fly Too!

I am starting a  Wagabond Traveler  , Not LSA .

Just my 2 cents worth .

 



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