Hello from The Gambia, West Africa.

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kent Ashton

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Are you a pilot? I see that there is apparently only one airport in your country. If you are not a pilot, I suggest putting aside your plans to build an airplane and set your goal on becoming a pilot or aircraft mechanic. With the need to import materials to The Gambia, shipping, VAT, etc., I doubt you can build even a simple airplane for less than $20,000. For that amount, you could pay for pilot or mechanic training. As a young person, you would find more success in building your skill stack—skills that an employer will pay for. Along the way, you’ll learn about aviation and what aircraft suit you. You may have to go somewhere for training. There is a lot of aviation in S. Africa, I think.

As you described, there is no support in your country for building light aircraft and formidable obstacles to operating one— more obstacles than you can imagine at this point. However, a huge continent like Africa needs pilots and trained mechanics! Good luck.
 

Wayne

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Not meant as a criticism of your chapter, but I have very little confidence in the national EAA leadership’s ability to recognize a good chapter.

You raise an excellent point BJC. I can't recall how much I shared above (we are incredibly busy at the Flying School + my RL Job and I have not been on here much recently).

To explain my 10% comment - it came from someone who has visibility to all of the Chapters, but was not based on the metrics that earned us a Bronze Chapter award, and which I protested and while President (I retired to kick off a youth based initiative) basically discarded because I was not happy.

Here are some of the things the Chapter has done in the last 5 or so years, and perhaps these will give you some more perspective of what I personally think makes a good Chapter. The current SLT is continuing on as well so we are far from finished.

Examples:
  • One of only 2 Chapters to complete the "Give Flight" competition with our Zenith Cruzer. Displayed the aircraft at Oshkosh. Wings were built at AirVenture, rest built at 1C5 by 800 (yes 800) local community adults and kids, with a core group headed by Gary Wilkins of 461. See here for news release
  • Turned the Cruzer into a non-EAA flying club - one member got his license in it and they fly it a lot. Scholarship memberships available for kids to learn to fly inexpensively.
  • Grew the Chapter from about 8 "senior" members to about 65 folks of varying ages - ladies and men.
  • Created a kids club, now called Future Aviators Association (FAA 😂) Watch this one there are about 20 active kids in it so far. It is run by my Mentee and that's the magic ingredient. Run the club with someone who is relevant to your targeted audience - not a boring Old Guy....
  • Three speaker engagements at AirVenture on Youth Engagement, and growing Chapters. I have been invited to present again - Wednesday, Blue Barn, 12 pm. I'd love to meet any of you guys for that. It will be "Proven ways to Engage Young Adults" or similar.
  • Chapter Hangar - the current leadership team has taken the hangar I got for us and has improved it and is making additional improvements!
  • Chapter Pietenpol project is coming along nicely - with regular open build nights for the locals
  • I was very fortunate to be requested to select a team to present over several days at an Aviation Expo in Xi'an China about homebuilt aviation. It was a stunning trip for so many reasons. We had a lovely time and the people were fantastic, but boy are we lucky here in the US from an aviation perspective.
These are some highlights - so you can see we are highly active, and in my opinion adding value. An offshoot of the Chapter has resulted in me mentoring one young lady very actively (she just turned 16, got her driver's license in my Turbo Hyundai Veloster, and the examiner told me she was the first female she had seen take the test in a stick shift - very sad). We met her via Young Eagles. She and I also present occasionally to Seniors at Illinois State University on Change and Innovation using our personal journey in the aviation ecosystem as the backdrop for the messaging.

So - are we the best Chapter? Nope. Are we top 10% - I think so.




BJC
 
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TFF

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I second the thought of spending the money to get the pilots license first. Yes it’s expensive and yes it’s fun to say you own an airplane, but you become an asset if you have a license and it will open doors. Building an airplane takes a long time. Only experts can build fast like in the books, but you can be learning to fly right now.
 

Victor Bravo

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Abdourhaman, I must also agree with the suggestion of becoming a pilot if you can. The reasons for this are:

1) There is a worldwide shortage of qualified pilots now, and this shortage will be getting worse. What this means is that a qualified pilot will be able to make a very good living... enough to be able to afford the Zenith 750 kit as well as having a more comfortable life.

2) If you spend all of your money to build an aircraft, then how can you fly it if you have not yet learned to fly?

If you are a pilot already, and you begin the building of the Zenith, you will have much higher credibility and a much better chance of the government supporting the construction of an aircraft. The government cannot call your capabilities into question as easily if you have become a qualified pilot!
 
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Wow, I’m glad i shared this thread because I honestly am getting very wonderful ideas that i had not thought of. Thank you all so much.
Is the PPL license the starting point?
 

ddsrph

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Tullahoma, Tenn
I have a question, guys. I have been going through the sites recommended and looking at the cost of building closely. I spoke with a guy who works at our airspace and our discussion was mostly centered on the cost needed to build the STOL CH750. looking at other aircraft, he suggested building the Affordaplane ultralight since it will be cheaper and my build won't stop due to financial issues. He is certain that if my build is successful then the government will certainly help me build another aircraft since that would be the first time an aircraft is successfully built here and then I can build the STOL CH750 as my second build with financial support from my government.
My question is, is it okay to build the Affordaplane for a start?
I think you are right about not tackling too big a project as your initial build. This is especially true considering your location. Take a look at the Legal Eagle. It uses a Volkswagen engine and gives experience in all types of light aircraft construction. Being a ultralight you may not need a license to fly.
 

rv7charlie

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Jackson
I wonder if the a/c suggestions are so diverse because we don't know what materials are readily available in another country. Wood is nearly universal; the builder just needs to learn how to 'grade' it, if they use non-aviation suppliers. Steel tube in a/c grade (4130) may well be much harder to obtain. Same with 2023 & 6061 aluminum sheet, and substituting unknown grades of sheet aluminum could be really dangerous. If 6061 tubing is available, then tube/gusset construction like the Kolbs and numerous other ultralite-like designs become feasible. There may be tubing in 'architectural' grade alloys available that would come close to 6061's properties, but I'd want an engineer to make the call for me.

In any case, learning to fly 1st is certainly good advice; it removes the temptation to test fly yourself at the same time you test fly a new plane.
 

kent Ashton

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Here are some flight training schools in Africa. Flight Schools in Africa

You should try to meet all the pilots you can meet and learn where they trained and what it cost. A formal, full-time course is the best way but it requires money and commitment. Try to take a couple of introductory lessons and see if it is something you enjoy. Military training is a good option, maybe in helicopters, maybe as a mechanic on military aircraft. A big advantage you have is that you speak English. Now build more skills on top of that. Learn things that an employer will pay for.
 

Brünner

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Beer country
Wow, I’m glad i shared this thread because I honestly am getting very wonderful ideas that i had not thought of. Thank you all so much.
Is the PPL license the starting point?
In Europe and NA you could start with an LAPL - Light Airplane Pilot License - or Ultralight Pilot License, meaning you will fly with ultralights which are not certified airplanes. That means substantial savings for becoming a pilot.
I don't know the current situation in your country, so it may or may not apply.

However one thing that I think nobody mentioned is that you could start by building - or purchasing - other types of aircraft. If you simply want to fly around spending as little as possible, a PPG (Powered ParaGlider) is pretty much unbeatable.

1621201949225.png

After that you could get a trike, or powered hang-glider: again, dirt cheap.

1621202053165.png

Be warned that these 2 are NOT 3-axis aircraft as the Zenith, so you will need specific training for each.
Best of luck whatever you choose.
 

Victor Bravo

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Kent Ashton mentioned something important - the fact that you can speak and write in English is a significant advantage. All airline pilots and commercial/corporate pilots must be able to communicate in English, anywhere internationally and likely in your country as well.
 
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