So you're considering
building an aircraft from plans...Experimental aircraft plans vary
widely from manufacturer to manufacturer. This quick article
will help you clarify two important questions to building an aircraft.
"What" and "Why".
It's easy to be cynical in aviation, as many are. I'm not trying to be
cynical. I am however begging the question, and maybe throwing it in
your face a bit, "are you the type of person that has the dedication,
commitment, and passion to build an airplane from plans?" If the answer
is YES! then great...buy those plans and get building. Remember,
building an airplane, especially from plans, is like eating an
elephant...it happens one bite at a time. If your answer to
that question has some hesitation...then now is a time to step back and
do a little more research into the "why" instead of the "what".
"What" is simply what we want. We "want" an airplane. We "want" to
build an airplane. We "want" to live out our dreams and take to the
skies...The "what" part is easy. Mostly the "what" comes down to the
fact that you do in fact have a passion and love for aviation and
flying. The "why" of building an experimental aircraft from plans is
the part that needs more inner-reflection.
Why do you want to build an airplane, and specifically one from experimental aircraft plans? Why do you want to order
experimental aircraft plans? Is it to reduce the cost? Is it to attain
the satisfaction of building our own airplane? These are really
important questions to answer and you should answer them for yourself
The truth is, most people want to save some money and take on a project
that will give them great satisfaction. I'm all for that! However, I've
seen so many unfinished projects that I began to wonder...Did these
unfinished projects slowly tarnish, rust, and dissolve one's spirit and
passion for aviation over the years? Most homebuilt aircraft literally
take years to build, especially when coming from experimental aircraft plans. We're talking in the area of 7-15 years.
That's a commitment!
Not only is it a commitment...but most people never finish the project.
So if you have hesitations...ask yourself "why"? If the answer is to
save a few bucks, I have a solution. I'd much rather see someone
actually flying than to see so many unfinished projects. Instead of
spending 10+ years of your valued time...why not save $400 a month for
10 years. Ok, I know this sounds crazy and seems off-topic...but here's
my logic. Save $400 a month and invest it for 10 years. Invest all of
this money and receive a typical return of 10%. At the end of 10 years
you have around $85,000. What to do with this money...I wonder...How
about buying an airplane (preferably an experimental aircraft for sale,
they're easy to find in trade-a-plane or other magazines). Or if you
still want to build...build an experimental kit aircraft and cut your
build time in half.
Where will you get $400 a month...well, where would
you find the time to build an airplane? Take that time and get a
side-job, cut your current budget, or start a small side-business. If
you're saying to yourself "I can't make another $400 a month,
are you crazy? How would I do that? That sounds way to hard" Well my
only answer is...try it. Try it for three months and make it a goal
every month to make and save an additional $400. I agree it's not easy.
But, if you can't do it or don't like doing it...then what makes you
think building an aircraft, especially from experimental aircraft
plans, would be any easier or any different? In my opinion, it seems it
would be easier for most to save money, have some patience, and then
after 10 years you can just buy a finished airplane or a 90% finished
experimental aircraft kit. I know experimental aircraft plans are
tempting, and I admit, fun to look at...but buying a set of homebuilt
aircraft plans does not mean you will have an aircraft, or what you
"want" in the end.
My point is not to deter anyone from aviation, especially if you are
truly passionate and dead-set on building your own plane. In fact I'm
hoping this article inspires you to make the wise choice. Be a good
pilot and make the go-no go decision. You must know what you are
capable of and comfortable with as a pilot, so why should it be any
different as a builder? I'd rather not
see people wasting their time and money and still ending up without a
finished aircraft. This is sadly the case a majority of the time. I
welcome ideas and comments and alternative solutions. I realize my
solution would lead to fewer sales...but I believe in the long-run we
would have more actual aircraft, of higher quality, flying. You can email me
anytime or comment below. I want to see more aircraft flying, and I
want you to fly as well, but for the majority of us, experimental
aircraft plans are not the answer to the the all important "what".
by Parker Woodward
Author Bio: Parker Woodward is a third generation pilot
and co-founder of the aviation companies Woodward
Aerospace LLC and
Ravin Aircraft LLC. To contact him please email firstname.lastname@example.org