Inexpensive Homebuilts... Why?

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Which is the closest reason to why you're interested in "inexpensive" homebuilts?

  • Have some discipline, save, and get something really nice later.

    Votes: 1 1.3%
  • I don't make much money. I can barely afford a used ultralight.

    Votes: 15 20.0%
  • I have a pilot license, but everyday expenses mean I can't afford what's out there.

    Votes: 17 22.7%
  • I need to get my license, and can afford that or an airplane, not both.

    Votes: 2 2.7%
  • I'm just a cheap bastard. Aviation costs too much. It should be less.

    Votes: 31 41.3%
  • I CAN afford many offerings, but can't get the (performance, looks, etc.) in my price range.

    Votes: 9 12.0%
  • Have some discipline, save, and get something really nice later.

    Votes: 1 1.3%
  • I don't make much money. I can barely afford a used ultralight.

    Votes: 15 20.0%
  • I have a pilot license, but everyday expenses mean I can't afford what's out there.

    Votes: 17 22.7%
  • I need to get my license, and can afford that or an airplane, not both.

    Votes: 2 2.7%
  • I'm just a cheap bastard. Aviation costs too much. It should be less.

    Votes: 31 41.3%
  • I CAN afford many offerings, but can't get the (performance, looks, etc.) in my price range.

    Votes: 9 12.0%

  • Total voters
    75
  • Poll closed .

Topaz

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We see a lot of threads here on HBA about "less expensive" or "inexpensive"airplanes. The VP-21 and "flying motorcycle" threads are prime examples, and there are many, many more. In fact, such threads tend to become our some of our more-popular postings. Along with spiders. Weird. Anyway, many,many people, it seems, are interested in "inexpensive" homebuilts. Others say, "Don't bother - save up your money and get something you'll enjoy more," usually meaning much higher performance, better looks, etc. There's a lot of wisdom in that latter point, yet the popularity of"inexpensive aircraft" threads persists. Are we all silly dreamers?

It struck me to ask WHY are you interested in "inexpensive" homebuilts? Please read through all the options and pick the ONE that is closest to your own situation.

The poll closes on October 20th, 2016.
 
Last edited:

Hot Wings

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It's not the initial cost for me that bothers me. I learned a long time ago to spend less than I make and saved for things I really wanted. After years of this I could afford to purchase about any reasonable plane I might lust for. The costs after the purchase are the ones that add up over time and with certified planes you never know when that one pesky AD will come out that makes your purchase worthless (Blanik/Let). That's one of the reasons I'm interested in Experimental.

The reason I want cheap is because I fly for fun and a $40K+ insert brand model is just too low a fun/dollar hour ratio, especially if it burns 8+ gph of avgas. The only interest the wife has in having access to a general aviation plane is to avoid the whole TSA and canceled/delayed flight hassle when we need/want to fly to get from A to B. That is getting to be more frequent and once she decides the extra cost of having a transport rated plane then we'll buy whatever is on the market and makes the best spreadsheet entries.

So for now a single place aircraft that can be, stored in a garage, trailered to the airport, and burns <4gph of auto gas is at the top of the list.
 

Aesquire

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Rochester, NY, USA
I got started in aviation with the cheapest way available at the time. Home built hang gliders. "Don't fly higher than you care to fall" was the mantra in the beginning. We were not pilots.... we "committed aviation". College students, vans, sleeping on hill tops and surfing invisible waves the size of mountains.

The notion that from that beginning we have cross country flights over 400 miles is sorta staggering. ( if you ignore we went from Kitty Hawk to the Moon in 60 odd years... )

The change was visible in a very inside way for me, but by the nature of progress, you just don't pay attention.... until it hits you. For me that was at 2700 ft. AGL and climbing, and getting a flashback to the days when 27 feet was a triumph and you hauled the wreckage home to rebuild and try again tomorrow.

There's also the simple fact that I haven't had the mental fortitude to save enough for a Ferrari ( Stemme ) but can tinker together a decent Ford ( Quicksilver ) and keep the family fed. The failing is not in my stars, but in myself.
 

plncraze

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Aviation is a disease and I can't let it go. A cheap homebuilt is my only ticket to fly on a regular basis. I am employed in aviation as a mechanic and cannot afford a factory built plane.
 

StarJar

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El Centro, California, USA
Ever since I saw Roger Mann's designs it changed my whole way of thinking. I thought; if he can make all these different planes cheaply, using pretty much the same techniques on all of them, than this is a cool way to go. If you try a new shape or idea, and it doesn't work out, you're not out a whole lot of bucks.
You can use a lot of the stuff again too (as long as you're not dead). Lol
 

gtae07

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Savannah, Georgia
I went with "cheap bastard", partly because I am, and partly because I want more than one airplane and something cheap is the only way I'll be able to afford the second (and third, and fourth...) one.
 

12notes

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I don't make much, and what I can spare I spend on flying. PP-SEL in February, PP-G as soon as I can schedule the checkride. I joined a glider club and a club with two tailwheel planes (170B and Citabria 7ECA), and I can rent a 172 from the flight school if I want, but none of those are good for any kind of long cross country trip. It's not the planes themselves that are bad, it's scheduling them. The flight school planes are booked pretty solid, no chance of anything but a late afternoon departure, early morning return overnight trip, scheduled at least 2 weeks in advance and hope the weather's good, but at $110/hour wet, it's too expensive to go far. The flight club planes I might be able take for a couple of days, and the Citabria is half as much per hour as the 172s, but that's still pretty expensive for a long distance and I'd need to schedule it way in advance.

I'd like in the next few years to take a month or so off and make a trip around the country and visit my whole family (KY -> FL,NJ,NH,IL,MN,WY,CA,TX -> KY). Renting a plane to do that would be prohibitively expensive and impossible to schedule. Other than probably an old 150, everything certified is going to be out of my budget. And most homebuilts would have much better performance than a 150.

I voted #2, but #3 is close and #5 and #6 are partially true, too.

My choice to learn to fly now an go broke doing it was financially irresponsible, badly timed, and completely unnecessary, but it was always going to be all of those things, so I went ahead and did it anyway. It beats putting it off until too late and never flying.
 

TFF

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Memphis, TN
Cheap is a very broad category. Cheaper than X is more accurate. Cheaper than $1000, $5000, $10,000, $30,000. Cheaper than 1 gal an hour , 5 gal, 10 gal operating costs. Most people who are active in aviation are doers. They tend to find their denominator to participate. Many people who want "cheap" in these threads want a new $500 airplane that will fly a 1000 miles on 5 gallons of gas and require no pilots license and can land in 50 ft. "I'm cheap and I dont want any money or sweat equity to be involved." If someone is not picky, finding a flying airplane for $10,000 or with sweat equity $5000 is possible. How much does your car cost? If it is more than a beater, you can get something. Being picky and being cheap is close to mutually exclusive; it sounds like a welfare complaint.
 

skier

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Unfortunately at most airports around here, to rent an aircraft you need to schedule it 1-2 weeks ahead of time. You never end up scheduling one of those beautiful evenings. And weather frequently cancels a planned flight. When one of those perfect evenings comes around, I'd love to be able to ditch work a little early and head to the airport for a short flight. To be able to do that, I need my own plane.

I make enough that I could probably purchase a more expensive certified aircraft if I so desired. To do so, however, I would have to give up other things that make me (and my wife) happy. If it were possible to purchase an aircraft for <$15,000 spread out over 2-4 years that allowed me to fly 50 hours per year for <$5000, I'd be a happy man.

Cheap bastard? Might be a good description. I tend to think of it as keeping peace at home.

How much does your car cost?
But my car has a purpose that is easy to justify: getting me to and from work where I make the money to be able to afford a place to live, food to eat, and yes, that car for transportation. To get good jobs that we like my wife and I work an hour apart. In most of the US, unfortunately, cars are more a necessity than a luxury. No good public transportation in rural areas, suburbia, or even smaller cities (I'm looking at you Hartford, Wichita, etc.).

My plane (when I have one), on the other hand, is just a toy used to give me some enjoyment and relaxation. I can't get to work with it. Without IFR and Flight into Known Icing I'm not going to be travelling for work in it or even to see friends and relatives in this part of the country.
 

bmcj

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Fresno, California
Perhaps another good poll (an offshoot of this one if you will) would be to set price ranges and ask members which kit price point would tip them over edge from looker to buyer.
 

Topaz

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Perhaps another good poll (an offshoot of this one if you will) would be to set price ranges and ask members which kit price point would tip them over edge from looker to buyer.
Never works. People say one thing, do another.

I'm interested to see how this plays out, when more votes are in. I may have a follow-on or two. What I ask depends on the result that comes from this one.
 

rbrochey

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My dad was 100 years old when he passed away in 1990. He was old school to say the least and taught me to be independent. At age 11 I was on a step ladder learning to install ceiling lights in our old farmhouse that didn't have electricity when he bought it... he looked on from his folding chair while drinking his ever present cup of coffee when I asked how do I know if this wire is hot? His reply was 'touch the black one and white one at the same time.That will tell you. ' I did and was shocked..and he said 'there now you know you have to wire up the light carefully." I'm 67 now and have been doing wiring and everything else for myself my entire life. All thanks to him teaching me. I don't think there's a day that passes that I don't use something he taught me. I have had maybe three outside service calls in my entire life. I like doing things myself. I want to build my own plane for the same reasons I build everything else for myself, like my dad said, 'avoid the paths everyone else is walking down, you'll never get anywhere.' And when the plane is finished? I will name it Russell. RIP dad. And thanks.
 

radfordc

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Part of the question resolves into how much does it take to make you happy? I can't say that I've ever enjoyed flying anything more than my Airbike and CGS Hawk ultralights, and then my Sonex. Lots of bang for the buck.
 

lurker

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cheap bastard.
that's why i have what nice things i have.
retired, fixed income. some little of it is disposable, so i don't want to fritter it.
aviation is a luxury. don't really know that i'd enjoy flying often, like every weekend. but i want to try it on my terms and schedule. not concerned (yet) with "performance", or going anyplace particular except maybe back to the field i took off from.
if i build (i've always wanted to build my own airplane, just so i can tell myself i did) a cheap (frugal/inexpensive sound so much better) airplane and i just love it, maybe there's a license and nicer bigger faster airplane in my future. if not, i had fun and learned something, and it didn't break the bank.
 

Pops

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I guess I am cheap. I like to make my money go as far as possible. I also like to build things, airplanes, houses, cars, boats, etc from scratch. I am sort of a relic of the past, if I don't have the cash, I don't buy. I live a lower life style and as simple as possible. Built both of my new homes without a mortgage. Never had a car payment since I bought a new 1968 VW bug for $1868 and paid it off in a few months. No credit cards, no debt of any kind. Credit rating, not listed, (great, I had my bank check on me). With all of that, having 3 children, we have lived a very nice life style and done a lot of things and traveled a lot. So, since I like building and rebuilding things, I would never buy an aircraft kit. Airplanes have been very good to me in my life in all ways. I have been blessed in all ways.
In building the SSSC, I didn't build it cheaply because I couldn't afford it, I wanted to see how inexpensive I could build a nice performing airplane. I had a little more than $3850 spent when I did the first test flight.
 

cavelamb

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I went with "cheap bastard", partly because I am, and partly because I want more than one airplane and something cheap is the only way I'll be able to afford the second (and third, and fourth...) one.
How many airplanes do you have right now?
 

TFF

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In response to the car, my car does get me to work, to eat, kids to school and it is only the second one in my life that only has that purpose. All the other cars I have owned had the joy of ownership first and I dealt with making it get me to work or school. Alfas, Triumphs, MGs, A Jag, Range Rover among many others were my normal kit and only options. I started driving what I have now, and everyone I knew wanted to know if I had hit my head as it was very un-Tom. AC does work good though. So to me a Pininfarina designed fender is way more important. Why do I drive what i do now? Free. Would rather turn it into a 65 Mustang if I had the choice.
 

cavelamb

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Very interesting - and very telling!

6 of 29 hold licenses (20%).

80% don't.

I think that explains a lot of what I've read on this forum!
 
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