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CdnMedic

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Oct 28, 2009
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13
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Oromocto, New Brunswick
So, finally getting close to that time where I can actually start a project. I've been away from this scene for quite some time, somethings are still the same, but there are things in the last few years that are really changing how things are done.
I started flying ultralights at 14, 22 years ago. One spirited aerobatic flight and realized THAT was the type of flying I wanted to do, and lost all motivation to finish my ultralight permit. Haven't been at the controls since. Joined the Army as a medic and life was too hectic. I'm now a structures tech in the RCAF, so I'm working on aircraft every day. My trade encompasses essentially everything aside from wiring and power plants. So the structural work, composites, finishing etc. Welding, Machining, textiles, it's all part of the job.
I like fast. I spent a long time racing motocross. Being in your 30s with a body full of screws and plates and enough joint cracking for someone my age, I decided to build a circle track car... Yep, too boring after racing 2 wheels. So, essentially I'm no longer wasting the money on racing. I had a street bike for a number of years (the girlfriend misses it) but sold it because I didn't want to die because someone was texting and driving. I built a pretty quick LS swapped trans am (learned how much I really enjoy building wiring harnesses). So yep, I like speed.
Myself and my other half live about a 1600km drive from our families, so the idea of a 6-8 hour flight vs 16-18 hours of driving is nice. I'm 190-200lbs she is 130ish.

Coming from the world of LS swapping vehicles, and the fact that I have beat the guts out of my Yamaha race bikes without a single failure and my Yamaha street bike was super reliable, I really want to follow Steve Henry's lead and use an Apex motor. I like the idea of building a 200hp turbo set up, which is relatively simple, reliable, fuel efficient. Finding a cheap donor sled up here is very easy. I was a big time sledder up until 5 years ago, so I have friends all over still in the scene.

So, aircraft I'm considering:
A 2 place sonerai being pulled with that 150hp motor would absolutely scream along. Basically zero baggage when flying 2 up, and I really hate the fact it has to be flown from the back. But, CHEAP! However, it is a scratch build. Not sure if Sonex will be supplying things like spars now that they have the rights to the design.

A sonex, does not really attract me in the looks department. But, again, that apex motor in that aircraft would be a great cruise speed. And the wings come off which is a bonus for me as hangar rent sucks. Kit price is really near that of an RV now. But, a simple build.

RV-4. Yes, please. However, a turbo apex set up is much lighter than the lycoming, and considering it is apparently easy to have the C/G too far aft with a pax, bags, and when lower on fuel, means I have to come up with a solution... Extending the engine forward, moving anything ahead of the firewall that I can could help. Or Maybe an 8 and just reduce my rear baggage capacity.

SPA Cougar. The panther is sexy, kit is a bargain, very simple to build and it essentially has a roll cage. If the Cougar follows suit, it just may be the way to go. I'm approx 18 months from starting my build, so hopefully it has been released to the public by then.

But, then there are these STOL rat characters that just make that form of flying a blast. Both of us are outdoorsy. We fish, hunt, camp etc. However, an airplane that fits that mission isn't a cross country flier.
 

Kyle Boatright

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Nov 11, 2012
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Location
Marietta, GA
What's your budget on timeframe, availability, and cost? Do you have a 2 year, 20 hour a week, $40K project in mind, or???

Just you and your significant other? How big are the two of you (not just weight, but height/width)? How about luggage?
 

TFF

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Apr 28, 2010
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Memphis, TN
I would recommend you leave the hot rod engine for your second homebuilt.

My first pick for a traveling plane is an RV 6. You can find a unfinished kit cheap enough to make it work. Sporty flying but good traveling. RV4 without the aft CG problems. Side by side makes most wife’s much happier when traveling. There is also the T-18 as honorable mention.

More back woods, I would pick one of the Bearhawks. Good all around planes. Cruise ok for a backwoods plane but designed to be tough.

Best bang for budget to travel is a Tailwind. Fast, cool, cheap. Lots of mods.

After the first, build a Sonerai or a Kitfox for yourself and be crazy.
 

Toobuilder

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Mojave, Ca
It's been my experience that you really have no idea how you're going to use an airplane until you have one and start using it. My advice is that you buy a flying example of something close to what you THINK fits your mission, start flying it,then figure out what you REAL mission is. If you get lucky, your initial purchase is a good fit. If not - well, there no law (yet) that we are only allowed to own one airplane for life. Sell it and move on.

I'd also suggest you ignore the non performance characteristics like "looks" and focus on the numbers. List what you want, collect the candidates that fit those criteria, pick the best of that bunch.

In my case, that was a Hiperbipe. After flying it A LOT, I realized my mission wasn't quite what I thought it was at first.
 

ToddK

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The Real Texas
I would get a bit of time in whatever you are considering. You are about to invest a lot of time and money, so do your diligence. Its great that you have some ultra light flying (ultra light guys tend to develop pretty good instincts), and that you know what you want (fast), and have a defined mission. You might look at a W-10 Tailwind. For speed and bang for the buck they are pretty hard to beat (they get that speed with fairly low HP engines), and there are a lot of builders out there. It also opens up the possibility of a partially completed airplane for pennies on the dollar.
 

Toobuilder

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Buying a flying airplane is probably the safest bet (financially) that you can have. First off, you will purchase the airplane at "market price", which, in the case of a classic homebuilt, is pretty close to maximum depreciation. You flying it around for a while and suddenly realizing that it's not a good fit for you does not diminish its value to the rest of the market. It's almost a certainty that you will be able to flip said airplane for what you paid for it (or more).

The same can't be said for building from nothing or completing a half finished project -. It's almost certain that you are going to spend more (sometimes many times more) than the thing is worth to "the market".

My advice is to buy cheap, figure out your true mission, THEN you might consider building the "perfect" airplane (or just buy an existing similar example for half the price).
 

BJC

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Oct 7, 2013
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97FL, Florida, USA
So, finally getting close to that time where I can actually start a project. ...
This thread repeats every year or so with the same recommendations and comments each time.

Suggest that you do some searching for recommendations on what to build or buy.


BJC
 

CdnMedic

Member
Joined
Oct 28, 2009
Messages
13
Location
Oromocto, New Brunswick
What's your budget on timeframe, availability, and cost? Do you have a 2 year, 20 hour a week, $40K project in mind, or???

Just you and your significant other? How big are the two of you (not just weight, but height/width)? How about luggage?
I'm looking to spend 40-50K CAD, and expect the build to take 18-24 months. I would suspect that with something like a Sonex B kit, I could pop it out quicker than most first timers considering my career is structural work on bell 412 helicopters. My trade also does all the painting as well.
I have no kids, and work a 40 hour week. Most of my weekends are all mine, and have at least 6 weeks worth of holidays per year. The reason I'm 18 months out from starting my build is I have a new garage coming next summer so I have a heated spot to work. 5-6 months of the year it's too cold for me to enjoy anything other than being in the shop.

We're both around 5'7", she's 130, I'm a broad shouldered 190-200lbs. Neither of us mind being a bit tight. She's a military brat, and I've lived for months out of a ruck so we both know how to pack light.

I would recommend you leave the hot rod engine for your second homebuilt.

My first pick for a traveling plane is an RV 6. You can find a unfinished kit cheap enough to make it work. Sporty flying but good traveling. RV4 without the aft CG problems. Side by side makes most wife’s much happier when traveling. There is also the T-18 as honorable mention.

More back woods, I would pick one of the Bearhawks. Good all around planes. Cruise ok for a backwoods plane but designed to be tough.

Best bang for budget to travel is a Tailwind. Fast, cool, cheap. Lots of mods.

After the first, build a Sonerai or a Kitfox for yourself and be crazy.
The Patrol has caught my eye, and if I were to do a plane in that category, is likely what I would be after. My only "excess" on that would be buying a pre-finished fuselage which is not a cheap route, but I've built enough roll cages to have an idea how much work that really is.

I saw a tailwind a few years ago, for a box it sure was sharp. But, I would really have to go for a flight in one before I could be interested enough, as I'm not sure if the bars across the windscreen would bother me.

I'd also suggest you ignore the non performance characteristics like "looks" and focus on the numbers. List what you want, collect the candidates that fit those criteria, pick the best of that bunch.
If a particular design doesn't meet the numbers, it doesn't matter how good it looks. I'm still considering aircraft that aren't high on my list of "look at that sexy thing".

The Apex motor is really what I want to run. The reliability is there, I'm familiar with them, the efficiency is good, hp/lb is great. I've learned that even though you can get in over your head with too much power, there are times where too little can be just as dangerous.
 

vhhjr

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Jun 29, 2003
Messages
80
I have a legacy Sonex and find it OK for cross country if I'm flying alone. It's a bit tight with a passenger. The Sonex B model is enough wider that it would be worth going with that version for the two of you. I would also recommend the higher HP option, I have a Jabiru 3300 and the extra 30 hp makes a great difference with TO and climb, especially when loaded. Turns out that the Jabiru 3300 weighs the same as the 80 hp VW based engines. There are other engine choices if you don't like Jabirus though I must say I've not had any problem with the two that I own.

I f you do plan on doing a lot of xcountry flying I also recommend 2 axis autopilot. This may not be as important if your passenger can fly and take some of the load off you. Otherwise, it's hard to even fold a map without wandering all over the sky.

I did not build the Sonex or the Onex that I have, mostly because it was much cheaper to buy them than to buy the kits and all the other bits. This seems to be very true when dealing with partially built aircraft. I also suspect that in today's market this is even more true. I was going to build a Onex and went too look at a flying one. The builder offered the plane tome for far less than the parts cost, even with a used engine. The ultimate quick build. I'm sure you find this true for most any other kit plane.
 

Daleandee

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Joined
Sep 11, 2015
Messages
992
Location
SC
How did I choose? I had owed a Challenger ll Clip Wing Special ultralight trainer (when such was allowed) and it was great fun! But when I earned my lowly Sport Pilot Certificate I knew I wanted, 1) a stout air frame, 2) a reliable four stroke, 3) all the speed a Sport pilot was allowed, 4) all metal construction, 5) a fun aircraft for the $100 burger, 5) some cross country capability, 6) room for a passenger (the wife), &
7) something with a distinct look about it. Here is where that list brought me:

1586188042657.png

I do miss the "hair blowin' in the wind" part of the open cockpit feel of the Challenger, and the low and slow, warm summer evening flights over the beautiful Carolina countryside. So no airplane is perfect but this one is pretty close to what I imagined as a young boy with a burning desire to leave the ground and touch the sky.

Dale
 
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TFF

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Apr 28, 2010
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Memphis, TN
There is a idea in homebuilt airplanes. The gist is this. If you want to build, build. If you want to fly, buy. Lots of projects are out there because the builder though they could build it cheaper. Even with skills, they underestimate the time required. Even kits with holes that line up or even fast build take more time than expected. There are people who can whip through a build, they are the exceptions. Non aviation engine, double the time. Aviation engines end up being a separate hobby to go though that stuff.

Since you still need to finish a license, more than likely you will not be able to use your homebuilt. Most CFIs don’t like homebuilts especially some hot rod. Building and taking lessons are two different pass times, even if they are in the same world.
 

cluttonfred

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Feb 13, 2010
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World traveler
I have seen varying numbers for the Yamaha Apex auto conversions, but my rough guess is about 175 lb firewall forward, plus the weight of fluids, so I don't think it's that much lighter than other typical engines, though you do get more power.

Personally, I think your original idea is spot on. The base mid-wing, round-tail Sonerai II is very sexy, but you'd probably want to go with the LS (low-wing, stretch) model for the bigger cockpit and 200 lb higher gross weight. Both have a 200 mph Vne. I wouldn't recommend strapping on a 200 hp turbo, but a 150 hp stock Apex engine with the right prop for efficient cruise would still have fantastic takeoff and climb.

1150 lb gross - 540 lb empty - 96 lb fuel (16 U.S. gal) = 514 lb payload with full fuel so you'd have some room for the inevitable underestimations and later weight growth as you add bells and whistles.

With your background and I would think you could add some reinforced attachment points to the welded steel-tube fuselage and fabricate a small, removable belly pod for your luggage.

PS--And a Soneraii II LS can look dead sexy, too!
gdavid4Jul27.jpg
 
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Hephaestus

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Jun 25, 2014
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YMM
May want to consider a luceair Wittman buttercup?

Kind of best of both worlds? Some better STOL qualities + bit faster than average. Seem to recall seeing a few o200's available in the GTA neck of the woods not so long ago. (Guessing by RCAF structures that's likely where you are)

My .02
 

WWhunter

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Mar 2, 2011
Messages
19
Location
Virginia/Minnesota
Not a huge contribution to the thread but I would like to mentiion one thing...insurance! Maybe it's not a big deal in Canada, but in the US insurance can be a exhobanantly high on an aircraft that is not powered by the typical aircraft engine. Think Lycoming/Continental. The insurance premium on any other engine can be nie impossible to get. I personally have a friend that has to 'self-insure' due to not able to get insure.

The additional cost,when you are able to get it, will pay for that egacy engine in a few years.

Back to the OT...I've flown in a Tailwind. Awesomely fast plane and I liked it. It's only downside was it has a very tight cain. I'm smaller than you, at 5'6" and 170lbs. The owner was about my size and it was definitely cozy inside.....but darn...it was fast!
 

TFF

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You definitely need to get your wife to sit in some planes. Find a tandem and a Cessna 150. Tandem so she knows she will be isolated and a 150 because that is standard width. A 150 has the same width as a RV7. Just a reality check.
 

Daleandee

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Sep 11, 2015
Messages
992
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SC
Not a huge contribution to the thread but I would like to mentiion one thing...insurance! Maybe it's not a big deal in Canada, but in the US insurance can be a exhobanantly high on an aircraft that is not powered by the typical aircraft engine. Think Lycoming/Continental. The insurance premium on any other engine can be nie impossible to get. I personally have a friend that has to 'self-insure' due to not able to get insure.

The additional cost,when you are able to get it, will pay for that egacy engine in a few years.
Not doubting your personal experience but mine has been quite different than that. You may not know (believe it or not) William Wynne has worked with insurance companies to insure that his conversions are insurable. My aircraft is currently insured for liability and hull coverage for less than 1K a year. Over the eight years I've had it since we built it I've had insurance with two different companies and obtaining insurance at a reasonable cost (I know, I know) has not been a concern. Also keep in mind that I'm a "newbie tail wheel pilot" in a tail dragger with a auto engine conversion.

I'm not doubting that auto conversions and certain homebuilds can be a nightmare to get insurance on ... just giving my personal experience.

Dale
 

malte

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Feb 5, 2011
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Flensburg / Germany
I'd also suggest you ignore the non performance characteristics like "looks" and focus on the numbers.
I beg to differ. If you are going to spend a good chunk of your free time with the aircraft, you should be comfortable with it and perhaps a bit in love. Here, looks are important, too. Or rather attraction.
 

TFF

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Yes and No to looks. Most planes look good anyway.

If you are building a plane to do a job, it will look like what that job needs. If you fight that, you are just a dreamer. Like a STOL plane, they are all modified Cubs. Some bigger, some smaller, nuance stuff does not make it not a Cub clone of sorts. Same goes with fast planes.

You either build for spec or build for love. Most people don’t finish for spec not because it’s not the right plane, but they don’t want to build; they want to use. I have never seen someone complete a plane they want to use without access or owning one they could fly anytime they want. I have seen plenty who want to build complete planes; usually multiple ones.

Neither is wrong but pretty much define the industry.
 

Chris Matheny

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Nov 26, 2019
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St. Paris OH
I am probably biased since I'm starting one myself but it sounds like a KR2S would fit what you are looking to do very well. I'm working on a small turbocharged engine for my plane now and will start the rest of it very soon. Good fuel range, fast travel, side by side seating and you can fit the width to what you need. They can be built with modest purchases of materials as you go. Like I said, I may be biased though.
 

wsimpso1

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Nobody said it, so I will. What material set do you LOVE working in? If you select a bird made out materials you hate working in, you will be unlikely to finish it.

Next all of the mission issues should be thought about. How many seats, how much baggage, aerobatic or not, landing speed, cross country capable? You may be happy with achieving only some of your list, but at least consider it all.

Billski
 
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