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Thread: What's the easiest plans/kits built sheet metal plane for the massively inexperienced

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    What's the easiest plans/kits built sheet metal plane for the massively inexperienced

    Seriously, I'm ok with my hands, but never even tried to do anything on a scale this huge before. I have a two car garage at my disposal and can get whatever tools I need. I'm literally starting from scratch here.

    I'm a student LSA pilot, btw, 51 y.o., so I know this limits me a bit, and I'm not rich, not by a long shot, so there's that as well. I'm a patient, studious kinda guy who likes to learn as I'm going along, and, as is obvious from this post, prefer metal to all other forms of aircraft. Kit aircraft like Zenith's are completely out of my price range, by like many thousands of bucks, so keep that in mind as well. Finally, I'd like a two seater as my significant other would actually like to join me in my flying life from time to time.

    Any help here would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

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    Re: What's the easiest plans/kits built sheet metal plane for the massively inexperie

    Check out David Thatcher's CX-4/5 plans. Building a scratch built airplane is all about head scratching on what tooling you'll need to get down the road. It's very rewarding (I'm told). I'm 90% done with a CX-4 with 90% to go. It is rising to the top of the priority list slowly. :-)

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    Re: What's the easiest plans/kits built sheet metal plane for the massively inexperie

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Z View Post
    Check out David Thatcher's CX-4/5 plans. Building a scratch built airplane is all about head scratching on what tooling you'll need to get down the road. It's very rewarding (I'm told). I'm 90% done with a CX-4 with 90% to go. It is rising to the top of the priority list slowly. :-)
    Sounds like a great place to start, thanks! Are those VW powered? Can they use something other than...kinda not to into VW's for power, just a preference.

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    Re: What's the easiest plans/kits built sheet metal plane for the massively inexperie

    What kind do flying do you like to do (i.e. what's the mission)?

    Do you mind saying what your budget is for the project? Did you mean that a Zenith kit alone is too much, or the finished airplane (including engine and everything else)?

    A VW (as used in the Thatcher aircraft) is one of the more economical ways to get in the air but there are probably those around here that would suggest a C-65 or C-85 could be found inexpensively also. I don't know that anything other than a VW has been used on a CX-4/5.
    ​simplify.

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    Re: What's the easiest plans/kits built sheet metal plane for the massively inexperie

    Thatcher is tandem seating, not side by side, that may be an issue?
    Quote Originally Posted by BoKu View Post
    The vast majority of engineering failures are the results of failure of imagination rather than failure of calculation.

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    Re: What's the easiest plans/kits built sheet metal plane for the massively inexperie

    Quote Originally Posted by mcrae0104 View Post
    What kind do flying do you like to do (i.e. what's the mission)?
    Do you mind saying what your budget is for the project? Did you mean that a Zenith kit alone is too much, or the finished airplane (including engine and everything else)?
    A VW (as used in the Thatcher aircraft) is one of the more economical ways to get in the air but there are probably those around here that would suggest a C-65 or C-85 could be found inexpensively also. I don't know that anything other than a VW has been used on a CX-4/5.
    Thanks for that, maybe I shouldn't be so quick to judge the VW, it has been around a long, long time. And it seems from what I've read so far today, the Thacher's are built around said engine, so it should work ok in this application....but I'm still a bit leary on this one.
    My budget so far is $5000.00, but I'm adding to it every week, I own my own business so that helps. Also a loan isn't out of the question, just would rather avoid it if possible. I'm cleared for up to $20,000.00 if need be though.

    I'd love to fly cross country, but life may mean just flying local for the next few years till I retire.


    Quote Originally Posted by cheapracer View Post
    Thatcher is tandem seating, not side by side, that may be an issue?
    Doesn't really matter to me, I kinda like the tandem idea, though, makes me feel a bit like a fighter pilot
    Last edited by dragon2knight; December 18th, 2016 at 03:21 PM.

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    Re: What's the easiest plans/kits built sheet metal plane for the massively inexperie

    $5,000 will get you pretty far into your wings and fuselage I bet. I like the approach of scratch building and doing it a little bit at a time. I would think a CX-5 would be a fine cross-country machine on a budget. Check out Glen Bradley's YouTube channel for more on the CX-5.
    ​simplify.

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    Re: What's the easiest plans/kits built sheet metal plane for the massively inexperie

    Quote Originally Posted by mcrae0104 View Post
    $5,000 will get you pretty far into your wings and fuselage I bet. I like the approach of scratch building and doing it a little bit at a time. I would think a CX-5 would be a fine cross-country machine on a budget. Check out Glen Bradley's YouTube channel for more on the CX-5.
    Thank you, will do!

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    Re: What's the easiest plans/kits built sheet metal plane for the massively inexperie

    The Sonex family might suit you as well. You can plans-build an original Sonex (and I might even have a set of plans and parts I'm willing to sell )

    I don't think you'll find many kits in your price range--at the very least I'd expect to spend $30-35k for a completed metal kit LSA. Then again, finding a partly-completed kit would give you a good start for a good price.

    The easiest build would probably be an RV-12 but I'd bet that's well out of your price range.
    I reserve the right to be smarter tomorrow than I was yesterday.

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    Angry Re: What's the easiest plans/kits built sheet metal plane for the massively inexperie

    Does your airplane need to meet LSA parameters? (You said LSA student
    pilot)

    Carrying 2 people on VW power seems to be as elusive as a unicorn. While it may be possible, marginal power and performance are not associated with a safe flying machine. The sn001 cx-5 has a revmaster engine, a VW derivative but a long way from the typical VW conversion.

    A $20k expenditure will be the minimum to build something. Thatchers website list cost to build the CX-5 at ~$25k.
    It's not just the parts to build the plane, you'll need tools and such. It may be possible to find a legacy classic that meets all your parameters, LSA, carry 2 people, no VW engine and you don't need 3 or more years to build it.
    “The only difference between reality and fiction is that fiction needs to be credible.” - Mark Twain

    “If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull$hi+.” ― W.C. Fields

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    Re: What's the easiest plans/kits built sheet metal plane for the massively inexperie

    You know, come to think of it... a guy up the road is selling an Ercoupe: http://savannah.craigslist.org/spo/5919256266.html

    Useful load's a little limited though.

    As Mr. Ferguson notes, a VW can be marginal for a two-person airplane, depending on the airplane and the size of the people in question.

    With no offense intended, how big are you and your wife?
    I reserve the right to be smarter tomorrow than I was yesterday.

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    Re: What's the easiest plans/kits built sheet metal plane for the massively inexperie

    Quote Originally Posted by gtae07 View Post
    You know, come to think of it... a guy up the road is selling an Ercoupe: http://savannah.craigslist.org/spo/5919256266.html

    Useful load's a little limited though.

    As Mr. Ferguson notes, a VW can be marginal for a two-person airplane, depending on the airplane and the size of the people in question.

    With no offense intended, how big are you and your wife?
    I'm 190, and, seeing as shes not reading this and you have no idea who she is,lol, I'll say she's 160 I'm honestly looking into a possible legacy aircraft now, as it seems my initial budget might not do it for a kit/scratch build. I do know however, that that initial cash influx will swell quite a bit during the build, so money really isn't too much of an issue. I honestly did not even think of going the old aircraft route, just didn't think they were too many to use for LSA, and I've always liked Ercoupes, with working rudder peddles that is. Yet another path to consider.....

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    Re: What's the easiest plans/kits built sheet metal plane for the massively inexperie

    Quote Originally Posted by Turd Ferguson View Post

    Carrying 2 people on VW power seems to be as elusive as a unicorn.
    Dave Thatcher seems to have broken the code to a two passenger VW airplane with the CX-5.

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    Re: What's the easiest plans/kits built sheet metal plane for the massively inexperie

    Have you visited your local EAA Chapter?
    With luck, a member has already built your chosen type of all-metal airplane and can answer most of your questions. For the price of a coffee - or beer - he/she can save you thousands of dollars in time and effort. They might even loan you specialized tools.

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    Re: What's the easiest plans/kits built sheet metal plane for the massively inexperie

    Quote Originally Posted by Riggerrob View Post
    Have you visited your local EAA Chapter?
    With luck, a member has already built your chosen type of all-metal airplane and can answer most of your questions. For the price of a coffee - or beer - he/she can save you thousands of dollars in time and effort. They might even loan you specialized tools.
    Sadly, my nearest chapter is over 90 miles away in the complete opposite direction of the airport I'm learning to fly at....but I am an EAA member, been one for many years, it's how I got hooked on flying in the first place Lot's of great advice from those folks! I also have quite the library of books and dvds that are also helping out with the decision process. It's how I settled on metal as my choice of materials, and it's still letting me know what I'm in for during the build and after as well. Still, looks like buying a partial kit or possibly an older LSA qualified plane may end up being the order of the day here, but I'm still in research mode and will decide soon enough. I only have the cash to do this once, and you can be sure that will be after long and hard deliberation on what's best for both my budget and me in the long run.

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