# Can someone recommend a beginner's plane?

Discussion in 'General Experimental Aviation Questions' started by DLrocket89, Feb 15, 2010.

### Help Support HomeBuiltAirplanes Forum by donating:

1. Feb 15, 2010

### DLrocket89

#### Well-Known Member

Joined:
Aug 10, 2009
Messages:
249
1
Location:
Janesville, Wi
Hi!

For valentine's day, my wife bought me plans for a Mustang II, which I would consider my "dream" airplane (cross country IFR platform). Ive been doing a lot of looking into it, and to equip it how I want and to build it is going to take at least 10-15 years. I'd like to get airborne before then.

So, I was wondering if anyone has recommendations for an "around the patch" airplane. My criteria:

1) 2 seater (tandem preferred)
2) Open cockpit
3) Reasonably quick build
4) Kit availability is a plus
5) Can fly on a "cheaper" engine... VW, O-200, etc
6) Anything other than composite construction
7) Reasonably well-known design - I don't want to be a guinea pig
8) Mild acrobatics a plus

Any thoughts?

Thanks!

2. Feb 15, 2010

### cpd

#### Well-Known Member

Joined:
Jul 24, 2008
Messages:
111
35
Maxair drifter, cgs hawk II, challenger II, tandem airbike. Probably a couple of biplane designs that are less ultralight like.

Chris

3. Feb 15, 2010

### DLrocket89

#### Well-Known Member

Joined:
Aug 10, 2009
Messages:
249
1
Location:
Janesville, Wi
Yes, non-ultralight would be preferred. I was just looking at Fisher Flying Products' Classic, Tiger Moth, and Celebrity (all 2 place Biplanes). Those look interesting, any experiences with them?

4. Feb 15, 2010

### Mac790

#### Well-Known Member

Joined:
Jun 22, 2008
Messages:
1,529
19
Location:
Poznan, Poland
5. Feb 15, 2010

### bmcj

#### Well-Known MemberHBA Supporter

Joined:
Apr 10, 2007
Messages:
13,176
5,084
Location:
Fresno, California
The aerobatic preference is a very limiting factor when put together with the other requirements. Most of what has been recommended up to this point I would not consider aerobatic.

6. Feb 15, 2010

### DLrocket89

#### Well-Known Member

Joined:
Aug 10, 2009
Messages:
249
1
Location:
Janesville, Wi

K, thanks. Dropping aerobatics from the list, where does that leave me?

7. Feb 15, 2010

### bmcj

#### Well-Known MemberHBA Supporter

Joined:
Apr 10, 2007
Messages:
13,176
5,084
Location:
Fresno, California
Lots. Pietenpol is one example. There is also the Bekeng Duece and the Spacewalker II. You might possibly find something suitable among the RagWing or Fisher lines. I'll throw some more ideas at you later once I've had time to think about it.

BTW... Lots of Piets and Deuces out there; not sure how many Spacewalkers. Here's a link to the new owners of the Spacewalker design:

Serenity Aviation - Home

Bruce

8. Feb 15, 2010

### DLrocket89

#### Well-Known Member

Joined:
Aug 10, 2009
Messages:
249
1
Location:
Janesville, Wi
Spacewalker looks really good. I was looking at the Hevle Classic (which my wife has declared the "perfect airplane") but I'm a bit worried about being one of the first to fly...if there are a few Spacewalker IIs flying so I know what I'm getting into, that'd be about perfect I think.

What kind of reputation do Fisher and RagWing have, just out of curiousity?

9. Feb 15, 2010

### bmcj

#### Well-Known MemberHBA Supporter

Joined:
Apr 10, 2007
Messages:
13,176
5,084
Location:
Fresno, California
The Hevle classic would be a good one too. I tend to think of the Hevle Classic and Spacewalker together as they both seem to be an outgrowth of the Bowers Flybaby design.

I do not have any personal experience with the Fisher or Ragwing line. I've seen some of the Fisher aircraft under construction and was not terribly impressed with it (the construction) but, in fairness, that was just a cursory look with no engineering or testing to back up my opinion.

There is one other kitmaker that might fit your criteria... www.airdromeairplanes.com has a Taube replica that looks like it has seating for two (unless the second hole is just a dummy).

Another plane you might consider (just a fair-weather flyer) is the Breezy. No kits, but its simple design would make for a quick build and you can always pick up a set of used wings and tail off of a Cub, Champ, Chief, etc. If it weren't for your preference for open cockpit and tandem seating, I would suggest an Avid Flyer or Kitfox as an affordable, easy to build kit to get up quickly.

Bruce

10. Feb 16, 2010

### Joe Kidd

#### Well-Known Member

Joined:
Apr 9, 2008
Messages:
192
1
Location:
Tennessee
The Fisher aircraft are wood and fabric fuselage and wings, very strong and suprisingly sturdy. They have very detailed plans and an active Yahoo group. The FFP Horizon I & II are tandem seat aircraft, with the later slightly larger and faster. Kit build or plans build options are available, overall pricing is pretty reasonable. Ragwing Aero aircraft are plans build only.
I have Pietenpol Aircamper plans and am ordering a set of Dakota Hawk plans from FFP. Someone recently had an incompleted Horizon I listed on Barnstomers for a fantastic price. You have plenty of options and a far bit of time, look around and see what you like.

11. Feb 16, 2010

### DLrocket89

#### Well-Known Member

Joined:
Aug 10, 2009
Messages:
249
1
Location:
Janesville, Wi
Joe,

Thanks for the reply. I signed up on the Yahoo group and asked a basic question (think it was if the 150lb AeroVee was OK on the Classic) and never got a response. In all fairness, I never actually emailed the Fisher company.. :whistle:

I like the idea of the Serenity Spacewalker with a Rotec up front...that kinda blows my budgetary "keep it cheap" engine idea though.

As it stands now, when the time comes it'll probably end up being a budgetary thing... something like the FFP Classic if I want to keep the cost under X (right now, about $20k) and the Spacewalker if I want to keep it under X + more (prolly$30k total). Who knows what the prices will be when I actually get around to it though.

Thanks to everyone for all the replies so far! Any other ideas?

12. Feb 16, 2010

### Joe Kidd

#### Well-Known Member

Joined:
Apr 9, 2008
Messages:
192
1
Location:
Tennessee
A hand proped A-65 would be great in the FFP Classic and the right VW based engine would work as well, provided you kept it light. In the end a mid time A-65 will probably cost less and work very well.
Where weight becomes a factor on VW aero conversions is adding on accessories that are heavy. Buying lightweight cylinders and such for the VE aero engine decreases weight but increases cost.
If you don't already belong to some of the Yahoo VW engine groups then take the time to join them and read through the material. I've learned a lot from them and the public library about these engines.

13. Feb 16, 2010

### etterre

#### Well-Known Member

Joined:
Aug 30, 2006
Messages:
313
1
Location:
St. Louis, MO, USA
It sounds like you're really sold on the Mustang II and probably have some specific trips planned... So why build an airplane if it isn't your dream airplane? Too many compromises and you may not finish it.

Lots of solid airplanes can be found for 20-30K at Barnstormers (Airplanes & Aircraft Parts For Sale - Free Classified Ads - Ultralights to Airliners - Used Aircraft and Helicopter Sales and Classifieds including Cessna, Beechcraft, Piper, de Havilland, Boeing, Airbus and Lockheed planes). Especially if you're not scared off by an experimental. Every \$ and, sometimes more importantly, every hour that gets spent on something other than the Mustang keeps you from living your dream.

Even more radical idea: Why not join or form a partnership?

No matter what you do, I hope you get to enjoy building something. :grin:

14. Feb 16, 2010

### DLrocket89

#### Well-Known Member

Joined:
Aug 10, 2009
Messages:
249
1
Location:
Janesville, Wi
Sounds good, thanks!

15. Feb 16, 2010

### DLrocket89

#### Well-Known Member

Joined:
Aug 10, 2009
Messages:
249
1
Location:
Janesville, Wi
The Mustang II is a longer term goal...yes, I have plans for that, but I've always wanted to have a smaller/lighter/cheaper/etc plane for just cruising around. Something small bipe-ish or spacewalker-ish.

Regarding buying vs building, building is going to be half the enjoyment! I love working on things and seeing projects come together. Also greatly looking forward to customizing the plane (mostly in the avionics/instrument department) to be what I want it to be.

Partnership: Working on it with two aviation-minded friends, we haven't yet decided what we'll do. One friend is interested pretty much only in canards, other one isn't sure he wants to do it. It's being considered...

Thanks for the thoughts and comments!

16. Feb 16, 2010

### lr27

#### Well-Known Member

Joined:
Nov 3, 2007
Messages:
3,577
541
I imagine a lot of guys are trying to figure out how to trade spouses with you, after reading about that Valentine's day gift.

I met a guy who built a Mustang 2 but found out that it was too hot for him and he was never comfortable in it. So he sold it. How are your pilot skills? Will you still be young enough to fly one of these 15 years from now?
------------

Just out of curiousity, and I think it's more or less related to this thread, are there other homebuilts besides the Volksplane that are considered really quick to build? Not necessarily kits as that's kind of like "some assembly required".

requirements similar but more like:
1) 2 seater side by side preferred
2) enclosed cockpit
3) very quick build
4) Can fly on a "cheaper" engine... VW, O-200, etc
5) composite ok if easy
6) Reasonably well-known design
7) aerobatics probably don't matter
8) doesn't look like everything else. I actually think the Volksplane is kind of interesting looking

treat this as a fun discussion as it's just curiosity at this point.

The fun thing would be a 2 passenger Facetmobile, but that would be a big engineering project.

17. Feb 16, 2010

### Dana

#### Super ModeratorStaff Member

Joined:
Apr 4, 2007
Messages:
8,847
3,191
Location:
CT, USA
Don't rule out the Kolbs. Not "very quick build", but great flying airplanes. Single seat (Firefly or Firestar I), two seat tandem (Firestar II), or 2 seat side by side (MKIII).

-Dana

A rolling stone .... kills worms

18. Feb 16, 2010

### DLrocket89

#### Well-Known Member

Joined:
Aug 10, 2009
Messages:
249
1
Location:
Janesville, Wi

Hah, yeah. It's not too hard, basically she's OK with it under a few "ground rules":

1) She's allowed to get a horse (I like horses anyways, so no biggie)

2) She gets to paint it (and decide the paint scheme)...If you've ever seen "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" she wants to paint the MII like that (P-40 shark jaw/teeth thing)...so, I'm going to have something named like a P-51 but painted like a P-40. :silly: I was going to go with a traditional P-51 scheme, o well.

3) I make it as safe as possible. She's followed things technically as I've been reading up, that ends up translating to dual alternator, dual ignition, BRS chute (I know the controversy surrounding them, fly the plane first, etc etc, no need to rehash the arguments here), no auto-conversion, no used electronics.

*shrugs* 6 months ago she was completely against the idea of me even flying, much less building something. It took her a bit of time, once she saw how much I really wanted to do this she first relented, and now is getting excited about it herself. It's just like the build itself...if something sets you back, don't get discouraged, just take a step back, figure out what needs to happen, go do it. In this case, it was "don't be argumentative, let her see how much you really want to do this, add some chocolates or flowers" and yeah.

...she is a wonderful wife besides all that though. :grin:

19. Feb 16, 2010

### bmcj

#### Well-Known MemberHBA Supporter

Joined:
Apr 10, 2007
Messages:
13,176
5,084
Location:
Fresno, California
A trip to Oshkosh is sometimes all that is needed to bring a reluctant spouse on board.

20. Feb 17, 2010

Joined:
Nov 3, 2007
Messages:
3,577