Sorry Billski, have to agree with you--- Buttercup. Pre-welded parts for those who do not weld. As close to a quick build kit as possible for the person that lived a sheltered life and need to learn that "Right is tight and left is lose. ( in most cases).
all of the above; average guys with average wealth and resources. For example, all of the RV builders that I know (a dozen or more) were and are all wealthy/have the room to build/have tools and resources and the means to buy more. They can also afford to keep and run them after completion. Builders of more common aircraft such as the VPs/Jodel D9s/Freds/Fleas and the more basic ultralights tend to have less to spend and can still turn out fine aircraft on a tight budget and strive to keep and fly them afterwards.
When my oldest son was in the AF and in the Gulf War, we sent care packages. One package was about 50 of those rubber band model airplanes. He said the other guys almost fought over who would get one. Kids will be kids.
Travel plane, Tailwind. Knock around plane, Flybaby. Aerobatic, Pitts S1. They will all cost you about the same amount of money to build from plans and in general require average skills. T-18 if you need metal. They are all no nonsense full airplanes.
RV's ARE the common aircraft in experimental circles. I've never seen a VP, Flea, or Fred in person and I've been to a dozen SNF's, over twenty Oshkoshes, and tons of local fly-in's. On the other hand, I've probably seen a thousand RV's.
RV's *can* be built on a reasonable budget. But nobody does that any longer. There's a lot of peer pressure to spend a lot of money on "looks pretty and impresses the guys".
Requirement one is it only counts if you finish the plane. RVs get finished. Hard to beat that calling card. Without RVs there probably wouldn’t be 10,000 registered homebuilts from the day they were legal; add in attrition and probably would only have 5000 fliers today. RV took it out of hands of hard headed doer into a more leisurely hobby. For the true common man, RV. The Christian Eagle and the BD4 were precursors. Supposedly some crafty grandmother bought an Eagle kit because it was touted as anyone could build it, and she did. Not a pilot. Only a fool would spend the money on an Eagle kit today; they are like $200k now. You might like a BD4 better than an RV, but the RV is a better plane for the same money. Common to completion, RV.
You know I'am just like most a broke a$$ builder but its all about laying it out and staying with the build. Rather RV, MM, Sonex, Cassette keeping focused on the end product is the trick. Now if a person can figure out just what build fits all desire to builders then we will know what is the best choice for the common man .
For a metal plane, I think I'd vote for a Thatcher (CX4 or CX5). Can be built from plans, third party parts are available if wanted, active builder community, not challenging to fly, and cheap VW power.
Ain't got RV money so I built an all around plane on a budget. It's fast enough to do some cross country work, slow enough to get into some smaller fields, easy enough to build, and powered with a reliable auto conversion engine that has given the airframe the power it needs when it's hot, humid, and the plane is loaded to gross.
It ain't the perfect plane as it could use more fuel and bit wider cockpit, but I'm very pleased with what it came out to be. As I get older I think about a high wing that would be easier to get in and out of. But I can't afford two airplanes and I can't talk myself out of this one. But ... (there's always a but) I haven't seen the Van's high wing offering yet!
RV's are only expensive if you let them be. The kits themselves are probably the best value going - and largely driven by the raw materials prices which everyone else has to bear too. Forego the leather interior, hang a runout engine and prop from a Mooney, buy 3rd generation old glass or (gasp) steam guages, and squirt some leftover automotive enamel on the thing and you have an airplane every bit as capable as this years Lindy winner at a fraction of the price.