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Edge 540 like kit build

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Ron Pearson
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#1 Posted: 5/18/2011 15:02:55

I have recently been looking at getting a nice super decathlon to fly acrobatics with but have been recently thinking if there are an edge 540 like kits avalible with aluminum or carbon fiber spars (NO WOOD).  Would be willing to spend around 100k but a factory build edge 540 is around 300k.

I am really weary of any pitts or other used aerobatic aircraft because I dont want a "run out" air craft, you can put alot of strain on an aircraft in a few hundred hours.

I will be flying out of a 1800 ft run way and can grade it and make it as nice as I want and an edge 540 like air craft would have over 300 hp so it should be no problem taking off but im not sure what their minimum landing distance is.

I guess if worse comes to worse I can entertain myself with teh super decathlon until I can afford an edge 540 if no such kit exists or if the kit is only slightly less than the factory built.  I have been told horror stores of pitts, cant see to taxi and they are a nightmare to land.

Thank you in advance for any help.



Martin Price
IAC Member
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#2 Posted: 5/18/2011 21:04:12

Quite a lot to digest in that question and it's not 100% clear what you're looking to do but I'll take a stab. I think the first things you need to do are

- determine exactly what you want to do with your airplane: touring and recreational aerobatics, competition... ?

- join your local IAC chapter if you haven't already and talk to owners and pilots of the types you're interested in to get a better feel for your options and gotchas (and, in fact, that may help you answer the first question).

In no particular order I'd say

- There's a huge difference between a Super Decathlon and an EDGE 540. One's a Swiss Army knife, the other is a scalpel. There's a lot to choose from in between.

- In another thread I think you mentioned you're working on your Private right now. If that's correct you're likely to hit insurance issues with an unlimited monoplane., and possibly some other types

- The Super Decathlon is a wonderful airplane to fly everything from 2-up touring to Sportsman-level competition. Theoretically it can fly Intermediate but that's very hard on it which brings us to...

- Used airplanes: don't rule out a used aerobatic aircraft, just make sure you get a great pre-buy done by an expert on the type. Also, don't assume a used Super Decathlon will be any less beat up than a used Pitts (for example). In fact, a hard-flown Decathlon (especially one that's done a lot of snap rolls) could be a real money pit. Worst-case: new wings. Obviously one that's been used for touring isn't going to suffer from that kind of issue.

- Similarly, I'm not sure why you are strongly opposed to wood but I wouldn't rule it out without talking to some experts. There are some phenomenally strong aerobatic aircraft making good use of wood.

- Don't rule out a Pitts based on reputation alone - that's a little bit overblown. "Nightmare to land" is an overstatement. Having said that, the earlier point about experience and insurance coverage applies.

- I very much doubt you'll get any kind of kit that approaches EDGE performance for $100K. The 300hp motor and prop alone would blow most of your budget before you even buy an airframe to attach them to.

- 1800 feet isn't that long a strip for a lot of aerobatic types, which tend to approach faster than a spam can. I assume you don't have an FAA standard 50-foot obstacle at both ends so you could probably get most types in there if you're precise but definitely check carefully for whatever you look at.

- IF you decide you're flexible on new vs. used and construction then the good news is that the aerobatic world's your oyster for $100K. OK, so you can't have a new EDGE or Extra but you could get a nice Super D, a pristine Pitts S-2B, a Laser, a Yak, possibly a Staudacher or any one of a number of aircraft that could serve whatever purpose you have. If you really want unlimited monoplane performance with practically unbreakable construction, and if you're mechanically inclined, you could get a Yak 55 with your budget (actually, you could get 2 Yak 55s with your budget). It helps to own an oil well, though.

Good luck, whatever you do. And if you can clarify the answers to some of the questions you'll be able to get help from people a lot more experienced than me.




Ron Pearson
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#3 Posted: 5/18/2011 22:13:39

Hello,

Thank you very much for your post, I am not looking to do competition acrobatics any time soon but I want something that I can do every acrobatic move in.  I have gone up in a super decathlon and we did every manuver including snap rolls and the owner did not seem concerned that it was straining his plane so I am a bit confused as to the actual capacity of the super decathlon compared to say a pitts.

Before I took a ride in the decathlon I had my heart set on a pitts single seater and was going to train in decathlon with the instructor and then take the pitts out when I had more hours but I talked to some people about pitts air craft and they said they are extremely difficult to land, so much so that I would need specific pitts training which they dont really have up here.

The other option is to buy a 2 seater pitts and find an instructor in Alaska but the 2 seaters are significantly more expensive than the single seater.  100k is my cap, I have about 30k now and could save another 20k by next summer and finance the other 50k but if I could get away with a single seater pitts or something like that, that would be ideal and I would have minimal if any financing, I just want to be REALLY careful that I dont get one thats "run out" especially on the air frame, but like you said you could get a super decathlon thats run out as well so it boils down to a really good pre buy inspection.

As far as training I plan to finish up my private in a C-152 and then get my tail dragger rating in the super decathlon and then build up tail wheel time in my dads super cub but thats not acro training, I would then do more acro training in the super decathlon.  But would that be enough to keep from killing myself in a single seater pitts?  That is the question

 

As far as the edge 540, its just a super sexy plane with unbelieveable power so who would not want one, I found some planes that look close to them for 140k but thats still steep, I will probably buy an edge in the next 10 years but not now.

 

So thats where im at, the other angle is if I get a super decathlon I have a free run way and place to put up a simple pull barn but if I get a pitts I will have it at a regular air port and have to find a hangar to rent or rent out a portion of a hangar which should not be too big of a deal and I dont want to sacrifice acrobatics because of a free run way.



#4 Posted: 5/19/2011 12:43:45 Modified: 5/19/2011 12:48:25

Dreaming is a great thing....I know...been there done that....I acchieved my dream aircraft after I purchased my first ever and it was a pitts S2B...Used, 1984...had seen a few competitions, a couple of here and there issues...normal stuff....I had it rebuild and enjoyed the heck out of it for two years...I recently moved to a Giles 202 and it is a keeper...

Here are my $.02 for you...you decide

Finish your PPL in the C152.

Get a tail wheel endorsement

Learn to fly...get at least 200 hours under your belt...you can still pay a CFI to teach you aerobatics....

forget about  landings in 1800 ft rwy . it can be accomplished but .it wont happen in any descent acro ride...it just wont!

want cheap? buy a rans 9....want cheap? there is not such an aerobatic thing......

If all you want to do is gentleman aerobatics and not competitive...consider an all Metal Zlin 242 or a French made Robin. The English Bulldog is also a choice...all primary military aircraft...very forgiven and can do most of what you want and more...180 hp for the Zlin and 160 for the other two....trycycle gear...(Nose Wheel)  and you can get in and out of the 1800 ft field a lot easier!  these 3 aircraft  look like a Piper Cherokee basically but aerobatics.

You mentioned ALASKA? 99% of acro rides are non insulated and I can safely say that over 75% dont have heaters....just a though when you build your own or buy one...

 

Become a member of IAC and participate in charpter activities. Great people who are willing to take you under their wings. Become an assitant judge in competitions. Understand the sport in and out...

 

 

 

 

 



N202MK Giles 202 S/N 11 Owner
Ron Pearson
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#5 Posted: 5/20/2011 00:44:49

Yea the 1800 ft run way is not set in stone, im also looking at renting hangar at a 4000 ft paved strip and buying a house near by (separate life endevor).  I like your ideas, I have really been looking at a pitts but I dont know if I should get a 2 seat model and find an instructor or a one seater and try to cobble together acro time in a super decathlon.

I am struggling with weather now, cant wait to finish the licence but the weather sucks right now.  Yea I will probably get a heated electric suit I have seen motor cycle riders wear them and hook them up to an auxilary battery.

That is a great idea with joining the IAC, I think part of me is just frustrated because im grounded because of weather and need to save another 20k and can finance the rest for a pitts S2 but probably not till next summer, need to get the floats off my dads super cub so I can start doing tail dragger time as well.

 

The key thing is I just need to be REALLY careful to get a really through pre buy so I dont get one thats run out.



Johnny White
IAC MemberVintage Aircraft Association MemberYoung Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or CraftsmanAirVenture Volunteer
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#6 Posted: 5/20/2011 04:40:41

Hello Ron

Sloooow  down just a little. If you have a desire to be a aerobatic pilot you need to crawl, walk, then run. 

Get out of the C152 and get in a Tail Wheel aircraft to get your private in. Two reasons: one is they are much better trainers, two, the instructor is probably going to be a much better pilot if he can teach in a tail wheel airplane.

Most Aerobatic airplanes are a Tail Wheel type and demand good "Stick & Rudder" skills both to fly and do aerobatics.

The Pitts is not a "Night Mare" only to those that don't have the proper flying skills and sufficient training to fly them. The Pitts is still one of the best and most economical, safe aerobatic airplanes on earth. 


Stick with the Decathlon for 200 hours or so, then get training  and prepared for a Pitts or a monoplane. But a 300HP monoplane is too much airplane for a low time pilot and you won't learn aerobatics as well because it is too easy. 

You learn to point roll and round loop, hammer head that decathlon well then you can fly any of the rest.

Good luck, Fly Safe & Smooth

Johnny White



FLY SAFE & SMOOTH
Ron Pearson
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#7 Posted: 5/20/2011 14:54:43

Sounds like a plan, just got up today and got another 0.8 instrument hours, hope to get my second and last solo cross country in soon so im pretty close.  I dont know if I want to spend the money on 200 hrs in a super decathlon so it sounds like I may be leaning more and more to a 2 place pitts and doing instruction that way instead of having to engage in to much buying and selling of air planes.  If I just start with a nice 2 place pitts I could keep it for a while until im ready to upgrade to an edge in 10 years or so when I have the money.

I want to try to avoid to much turn over with buying and selling planes because you will inevitably loose money on that transaction as the seller.  Let me know if you think that is a good idea as opposed to starting with a super decathlon.



Martin Price
IAC Member
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#8 Posted: 5/21/2011 16:14:59

You don't necessarily need to rack up exactly 200 hours of acro in the Super D, it's just that you'd be well-served building up a healthy combination of aerobatic and tailwheel time before moving to a higher performance aircraft. If you have access to a Super Cub and a Super Decathlon that should be more than enough to keep you occupied while you get truly comfortable in both of them. Consider 200 tailwheel hours a good planning number. For reference I think I had about 150 tailwheel hours when I started my Pitts checkout, with about 120 of them in a Super D.

The 2-seat Pitts are awesome but you wouldn't necessarily need or want to buy one just to get training in - I suggest you stick with what you're able to rent at first. Once you have some experience you can come down to the Lower 48 for a week and visit somebody like Bud Davidson in AZ or the Tutima Academy in CA (for example - there are others). Spend a week with either of them and you'll know how to fly a Pitts. Then you'll only have to find $30K for a little S-1, you'll have years of fun and you'll save a fortune.

Even if you decide you want to buy a 2-place Pitts, or another high performance aircraft, straight out out of the gate then you should still seek out the best quality training you can find. It's not a nightmare, as previously noted, but you want plenty of landings and you need to spin the hell out of it every which way to be safe.




Mark Killian
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#9 Posted: 5/21/2011 22:10:18

Having owned 6 airplanes, it is cheaper to rent.  You are much better served by spending your money learning to fly. Low time and high performance is going to kill you insurance wise. You mention a kit.  Ask yourself, Do you want to fly or build?  Nothing wrong with either answer.  Great advice from several about getting tailwheel time.  Start with the ones you can rent and get checked out to fly without an instructor.  Cubs, Decathalons etc.    Get a good solid tailwheel endorsement and go get experience.  Be sure to get continuation training with an instructor to expand upon your skills.  Then find a good aerobatic school/instructor.  The best way is to go somewhere for a week to 10 days.  After that you should be good to go for Primary or Sportsman.  Find a local IAC Chapter and go to some contests.  After a season of competitions, you will have a much better idea of what would be appropriate for you to buy.  This might save you some money and keep you out of a plane that is a bad match for you.  When you do decide to buy, get an very thorough checkout from a reputable instructor.  My wife did her Pitts checkout with Budd Davisson and there others advertising in Barnstormers and IAC publications. 



Eric Sandifer
IAC Member
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#10 Posted: 5/23/2011 11:32:44

Ron,

Johnny White and others give good advice. Give yourself time to gain experience and some perspective before deciding on, or excluding any particular type of plane. You might find that what you want may change with experience and time. And the horror stories about a Pitts come from those who have little to no experience in them, so forget all you've heard. :-)

Regarding your question about a kit, to my knowledge there are only three currently-supported monoplanes designed for "unlimited" type aerobatics that you can build yourself: Dan Rihn's DR-107/109 and the Laser series by York. All have wood wings. There is nothing wrong with wood if the design and build is sound and the aircraft is flown within its limits. The Pitts is probably the most venerable aerobatic design ever and its wings are all wood. None of these will approach the performance of an Edge 540. As far as an all-carbon aerobatic monolane kit goes, your nearest option is to find an unfinished Giles 202 kit. But these are no longer produced and components and support are very limited. But you'll have over $100K in a finished Giles. For that matter, generally you will always be able to buy something for less than you have invested in a build. You could build a DR-107 and Laser for under $100K, but you could also buy a finished DR-107 outright in the $55K range. There are some flying Lasers out there, but they are fairly rare. Good luck with your flight training and getting into acro.



Ron Pearson
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#11 Posted: 6/7/2011 11:34:36

So I got my second and last cross country out of the way and the last of my instrument time but when I went for a mock check ride I did not do so hot, most of my manuvers were just barely in spec but the instructor wanted to see them cleaner, my short fields were a little hard.  I was looking at the planes they have avalible and they do have a citabria for only a few bucks more an hour but I am so close to finishing my licence I wonder if it is wise to change right now or just wait and do an endorsement.  Right now I am just getting all my manuvers onto a knee board check list and studying up for my oral exam for my check ride.  My fiance and I have been talking about taking a trip to arizona for a week or so, we have a free condo we can stay at near chandler and free air line miles and I can get pitts time in that way I can buy an S1, I would like to get a 200+ hp pitts however so it will likely run me 60k ish, not an insurmountable task by next summer since I have almost 30k now (lost a few bucks in the stock down turn here recently).

 

They do have a super decathlon at the school im at but its like 325$/hr which translates into thousands of dollars in a really quick hurry so I will fly the super cub alot and build up tail time and maybe get a few hours in that super decathlon before I head to arizona for 6-10 hrs in a pitts but ~200 hrs in a 325$/hr plane = a new plane (minus maintence and stuff but close enough).  When I buy a pitts I will likely have it crated and shipped to Alaska, flying an aerobatic plane with a 300 mile range thousands of miles does not sound ike a good time.  I was talking to an A&P friend of mine and he said maybe you can get a beat up pitts for dirt cheap (almost free) and then have all the skin cut off and have custom made carbon fiber ribs made and have them reinstalled before putting new fabric back on and you would have a one of a kind air craft or even aluminum ribs and struts, I could even put a super stinker motor on there if the air frame will support it.  He said you could get the whole plane refabriced and painted for 10k and I have seen new 230hp engines on barn stormers for 20k, I dont know what custom ribs and struts would cost but I cant imagine more than 5-7k so if the plane is 15-20k that might be an idea, of course there is all the horsing around with A&P's and having a plane in pieces in a hangar or garage and not being able to fly so that is something I will have to think about and im sure there are all kinds of hidden costs in doing that so I might just keep looking until I find the perfect one online.

 

My biggest thing is I want to be safe but I dont want training costs to bite me in the rear end and drain my bank account and find myself at 40 years old before I can even buy a pitts.  At a certian point its a ballance between taking some chances and doing what you want and being overly cautioius and ending up an old man and having blew all your money renting someone elses plane.  I am not too worried about insurance becasue if they are going to price gouge me I just wont carry it, its a one seater over a remote area after all, would be nice to have hull on it but im not going to pay a bigillion dollars a year for it because the truth is if I do enough damage to exceed the deductable im not likely walking away from it (unless an engine fails and I have to parachute out, how many people have you heard of doing that), if I just damage a landing gear or ground loop it and scuff a wing that will probably not meet the deductable.  Would be nice to have hull in case I have to bail but not if its so expensive I could buy a new plane in a few years just from the premiums.  I emailed the insurance company that a CFI gave me that took me on a super decathlon fun flight but they never got back to me, I may have him call the guy on my behalf because I cant get them to give me the time of day and I did not indicate how many hours I had I just wanted general information.

 

So for right now I am just hitting the books to make sure this check ride goes off without a hitch, have thought about converting to the citabria to do my check ride to keep from getting bored but also need to keep certs and writen exams from expiring as well, I had a writen expire last time and dont want to repeat that lol.



Martin Price
IAC Member
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#12 Posted: 6/14/2011 10:28:43

A much wiser man than me observed that the sport of aerobatics is about the journey rather than the destination. Finish your check ride, enjoy the time you build in the Super Cub and the aerobatic time you can afford in the Super D, look forward to the Pitts training, and don't get so wrapped up in the details of the Pitts you want to build that you forget to enjoy yourself. Have fun.

-Martin