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 .

bifft

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I answered "cheap bastard" because tho I can (and do, barely) afford an RV, I enjoy seeing what can be done with less. Love taking things that others would (or have) thrown away and making something useful out of it. Not usually safe to use trash in your airplane, but these "cheap" threads scratch that itch.
 

Toobuilder

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It's been tried, here on HBA even, and the thing I've learned from that such a definition as a dollar value is impossible. "Inexpensive" means $2,000 to one person, $20,000 to another, $200,000 to a third. Trying to nail that number down for everyone is a deep, deep, rabbit hole.

For purposes of this thread, I really don't need to determine what "inexpensive" means objectively. It can mean whatever it means to each individual.
Fair enough. It still does not help me because in answering because while there may be plenty of airplanes I'm interested in that just happen to be inexpensive, the cost is not a discriminator in that appeal. I bought a Taylorcraft because I wanted a Taylorcraft - not because I was looking for something inexpensive. On the other hand "simple" holds some appeal... Maybe that is a better descriptive term? Some people are limited by their financial situation and it is cheap or nothing, but for those of us with more elaborate means, simple for simple's sake is a good thing sometimes.
 

Little Scrapper

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I couldn't find a poll question to answer unfortunately.

I'm a firm believer the airplane you select has to resonate with your soul or you'll never finished it and fly it. A Cassutt is pretty cheap to build and fly for me but the design itself just struck a cord with my soul.

A WACO tapering does too but it's not in the cards for me financially.

So I think my brain just tends to focus on simple tube and fabric homebuilts knowing that most are in reach.

It's my opinion only, but many people I believe pick ultra cheap airplanes because they know they can't afford it and convince themselves they have a chance never actually completing or flying anything. Toys are expensive, even motorcycle ownership can be expensive. Kinda like a horse, buying a horse is dirt cheap, maintaining a horse is expensive. So I think the allure of "cheap" trumps the design with certain people.
 
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Little Scrapper

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Inexpensive is pretty easy to relate to income. Income spread is the major influence in the large spread of "inexpensive"

For a subgroup with a given incone that spread will be pretty small.

5% of your net income is cheap. 25% is unaffordable for most.
Not necessarily. There's plenty of people whon have great incomes and 5% would cause bankruptcy. There's plenty of people who make 50k a year and have more money than people who make a 100k a year.

Airplanes, like any other hobby, is more affordable to an individual who has planned ahead financially.
 

Daleandee

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Airplanes, like any other hobby, is more affordable to an individual who has planned ahead financially.
Some very good points made here. As I consider it myself I was employed and making a pretty good living when I bought my first airplane. As a new student I did what many new pilots do ... I bought an airplane like the one I trained in. I didn't have the money in the bank but I was allowed to borrow against my 401K plan. Flying that plane for a few years, I did some upgrades and sold it and made a few dollars on it.

In the meantime a few of us bought a plane together, fixed it up, flew it a little, sold it and made a bit more. Taking my scratch money, I went and bought one that was mostly built and not finished. After getting it finished, airworthy, and flying it a few years I sold it and made a pretty good return on the investment. That allowed me to begin the build of my current aircraft. I had to bring a bit more money in the end but had gotten some settlement monies from an accident.

So now I have an aircraft that is reckoned to be worth 30-35K. Depending on where you are on the economic scale that is either inexpensive, about right, or crazy money spent on a toy. To me it's not a matter of either as it was what I was after and in the course of the fifteen years, and other aircraft I have bought and sold to get here, that money isn't really missed as I paid back myself for my 401K many years ago and every other aircraft was paid for when I got it.

My point in all this ramble is to say that there are a number of ways to get from here to there. The cost can be a lot if you are determined to have the best to start with. A lot of young people get into this kind of trouble early trying to live to their parents standards not considering that their parents didn't start out with two new cars, a large house, nice furniture, and an airplane in a private hangar.

I now work for the state and make less money than before but have more free time. But that works for me because the wife and I found out that when the kids moved out and started feeding themselves ... we saved a lot of money! :roll:

Dale Williams
N319WF @ 6J2
Myunn - "daughter of Cleanex"
120 HP - 3.0 Corvair
Tail Wheel - Center Stick
Signature Finish 2200 Paint Job
130.2 hours / Status - Flying
 

Winginit

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I think the cost of owning, storing and operating a certified airplane after the initial purchase is what I dislike most. I also have concerns about the aging aircraft that have become available for reasonable initial purchase prices. I want my airplane to have folding wings, be trailerable, possibly be storable inside the trailer at no cost, require no professional annual inspections, be repairable by ME, and have reasonable repair and operating costs. Thats my goal.
 

BBerson

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Simple is perhaps a better word.
I like high quality and durable and simple.
Like Pops mantra: if not installed it doesn't add weight, cost nothing, and never breaks.
I am working on a durable ultralight concept. Not easy.
I chose a Honda Vtwin which is both durable and inexpensive. Not cheap as possible (clone)
 

Turd Ferguson

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I think the cost of owning, storing and operating a certified airplane after the initial purchase is what I dislike most. I also have concerns about the aging aircraft that have become available for reasonable initial purchase prices. I want my airplane to have folding wings, be trailerable, possibly be storable inside the trailer at no cost, require no professional annual inspections, be repairable by ME, and have reasonable repair and operating costs. Thats my goal.
To accomplish your goal means building a plane and getting a repairman certificate. Great if you can make it happen. However, there are a lot of challenges in that path.

I found that an inexpensive certificated airplane has advantages if flying is >25% of the equation.
 

Pops

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Back many years ago I got tired of throwing my money away after paying hanger rent for 25 years. My wife and I started looking for farm land to live on and make a grass field runway. Found a local grass field for sale and agreed to the price and the owner back out. Short time latter my youngest son found another farm with a 1800 strip on it. He bought it for the 25 acres portion to do a housing development, I was going to buy the other 50 acres from him with the 1800' strip. Then I found out about the man that was starting to build a runway and sell land on each side. Found out about it on Saturday, flew in on Sunday and met with the owner on Monday and bought some land. Called my Son on Sunday and was telling him about the land and he said another developer just made him an offer for the 75 acre farm with the grass strip for a huge profit. So we both got what we wanted. I built an new house and hanger on west side, in the middle of the runway, and my son started a housing development on some other land that he owned That was in 1995.

Saying all of that to say it sure is nice not having the expense for hanger rent and living on a runway without an hours drive one way to the airport and living 90' from the hanger. Saves a lot of time and money and makes flying a lot more fun.
 

cheapracer

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Not necessarily. There's plenty of people whon have great incomes and 5% would cause bankruptcy. There's plenty of people who make 50k a year and have more money than people who make a 100k a year.

.
Yup, kind of like me, busy turning it over again and again trying to make it work for me and often scant actual cashflow in difference to the asset I own. And it catches me out occasionally so risking too much into a hobby could be a straw that breaks the camel's back.

It hurts sometimes when your Mates buy the latest toys and you have 20 year old dungers, if at all, but they are on 30 year bank plans and have to be at work Monday morning without fail, I don't (even though I work 24/7 but by choice). Each to their own I guess.


I want my airplane to have folding wings, be trailerable, possibly be storable inside the trailer at no cost, require no professional annual inspections, be repairable by ME, and have reasonable repair and operating costs. Thats my goal.
Wow, I could have written that. My grammar would have bee perfect though. :gig:
 

Victor Bravo

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I want my airplane to have folding wings, be trailerable, possibly be storable inside the trailer at no cost, require no professional annual inspections, be repairable by ME, and have reasonable repair and operating costs. Thats my goal.
(Likely additional quote) : "I want it to be cheap as well."

Your wish is granted.

Buy a Kolb Firestar kit, the airplane will meet most or all of your needs.

One-person folding wings, 10 minutes from folded to flying
Exceptional STOL and "low and slow" flight performance
Able to fly open cockpit, semi-enclosed, or fully enclosed.
Stores in 22 feet x 3 feet x 6 feet of space
Transports/Stores in "toy hauler" style box trailer that doubles as workshop and luxury camper.
Save $$ by converting a flatbed trailer with cheap steel conduit bows and tarps for non-luxury aircraft storage
Be clever and buy an old school bus or delivery van, gutting out the interior, and have a self-propelled toy hauler
You build it, you get the FAA repairman certificate, you do the maintenance and inspections
Pete's O-100 engine will be very very reliable and inexpensive to operate
Other engine choices available on a budget as well

Full Disclosure... (I have one for sale, which already has some of the work done on it, and is priced at ONE-FOURTH of the cost of a new kit. See the FS section)
 

narfi

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I wonder how much of this 'Cheap Certified Aircraft are too expensive after the purchase' is based on Location and how much on culture (ignoring the fact that everyone has a different sized budget to work with)

Two points listed often as major factors seem 'non factors' to me, but I am not sure how much of that is reality and how much is location/cultural.

1. Hanger fees - need for folding wings - trailarable.....
I have lived in a 'harsh environment' for the last ~20years and observed planes of all sizes/values stored outside 365 days a year with no major issues. (small fabric aircraft, small Cessnas, bonanzas, otters/beavers, Cherokees, etc... on up to King Air types... some with and some without wing covers and tire covers (protecting bush-wheels from UV deterioration)
Yes I am sure there are costs for a tie down if stored at an airport, but is a hanger really necessary? (of course I want one!)

2. Cost of Annuals/maintenance/certified parts.
A non issue for me as an IA, but for non certified mechanic you certainly will need to pay for those signatures each year.
However..... A large portion of Annuals I bill out is in the labor, not in the parts. Much of that labor can be done by you if you have a good relationship with your A&P/IA.
A typical owner can do all the opening up of panels, cleaning, servicing(with supervision), etc...
A owner capable of building their own plane as an alternative however...... Shouldn't have any problem doing minor sheet metal repairs, as well as other more major stuff with the proper supervision.
We aren't talking 135 standards here.... you wouldn't be doing commercial work with your homebuilt anyways, so you cant expect those standards from your (for same use) Certified aircraft.
Parts are going to cost more.... but for the smaller type stuff usually discussed here (we arent talking about beechcraft prices right?) Your year to year parts arent going to be significantly more.
Certified Engine overhauls are then your only BIG cost difference, and some would argue you get reliability with that extra money spent, and for the light users (which I assume most here are) that cost amortized over a year to year basis (vs per hour) will be relatively small.

-----------------
Cheapest (lowest cost) option for me by far (for something that looks like an airplane) would be an old Tcraft or similar which would have negligible year to year costs for me. $0 storage, $0 Maintenance, Low fuel burn, cheap parts, long maintenance history with ADs etc... for all known issues over the years.

So lets break it down for my situation......

Tcraft
+ <$20,000 ready to fly now.
+ long maintenance history

- I didn't build it
- Certified parts will cost a little more
- Certified engine will cost more to overhaul/maintain

+/- No storage costs (or a couple 100 a year if I dont park in my yard)
+/- No maintenance costs (I am certified)

Zenith 750 STOL
+ I (my son) will have built it
+ It will be new
+ I can choose the engine which will likely be cheaper than an OH certified one.

- Much MUCH shorter maintenance history of potential issues recorded
- Potential for a less reliable engine
- High cost of 'reinventing the wheel' on changes I may want to make and have to keep tweaking. (autocorrect wanted 'twerking' there..... :/ )
- ~$20,000 WITHOUT the engine
- Many Many manhours must go into it before it ever flys.

For me, the 'Cost' part for similar aircraft weighs heavily in favor of a certified aircraft and I believe even for an average guy it still leans in that same direction, though could be a wash for some depending on tiedown fees.
Why then am I leaning so heavily towards the 750?
Almost all of my decision is weighted by 'My son will have built it', even though it will cost nearly twice as much for a 'new' aircraft worth less in the end than an 'old but solid' certified aircraft.
 

Winginit

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(Likely additional quote) : "I want it to be cheap as well."


Actually, I don't mind the initial outlay for building an airplane of choice, and even the cost for tools to do it with. I don't plan to throw $100K at something, but I'd basically like to feel that when its completed the whole thing will not have set me back more than the cost of a new Lycoming O-320 or O-360. And then knowing that from that point on it will not be a strain just owning it with a perpetual drain on finances. I have never liked the idea of renting anything longterm. Pay for it one time and enjoy it for as long as you own it. Sure there have to be some exceptions to that rule, but the idea of a continual money drain is nearly the same as renting. $30K will get you a long way in a lot of inexpensive homebuilts. If it were to take another $10/20K at that point to do it right, I'd bite the bullet and do it. But when it is done and ready to fly, thats when I expect what I have built to be virtually inexpensive to own, operate, and store. If people plan for that option by selecting or modifying a design so that it meets those criteria, then they can often afford a better airplane from the git go. Its all about planning ahead .

As for the storage ideas, I will probably use an enclosed trailer, but one option I had thought about was an old motorhome. Once they get old and have some roof leaks, people practically give them away. Get a 30+ footer, strip everything out of it and make a rear ramp.

Narfi makes some good points in his evaluation, but I think he is in a better situation to cope with/reduce costs than most owners would be. There is one thing that especially concerns me with older tube/fabric airplanes. That thing is interior rusting of the tubing. A friend is rebuilding an old cub. He is a hybred kind of guy who scraps nothing and makes everything serve some kind of purpose. He is a good O/A welder. I saw some of the tubes that were being replaced, and they were rusted thru in places . This was a restoration of a carcass, not an active airplane. The more I looked at it, the more I worried about what he can't see. To me that is one of the things that pushes me toward building a new airplane. Many of these airplanes have set in those unprotected environments for 50-60 years. The tubes have no interior protection and are thin to begin with. Perhaps I'm being overly critical, but to me it is a major concern.
 
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Hot Wings

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As for the storage ideas, I will probably use an enclosed trailer, but one option I had thought about was an old motorhome.
Might be a good idea for some. I'm embarrassed I didn't think of it as well because I bought an old camp trailer and gutted it to use as a tool trailer to haul my home renovation type tools from one project to another. Camp trailers go for surprisingly low prices at the insurance auctions with hail damage. Selling off the appliances, propane bottles and fixtures can make the deal zero cost. The propane heater from the one I gutted will keep the green house warm this winter.
 

Twodeaddogs

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Cost: I have a CPL and it's expensive to keep and I prefer homebuilds, classics and microlights to store-bought aircraft. Pilots in Ireland like me have learned that an aircraft from the three types listed can be owned and operated for much less than the cost of a certified aircraft, even a humble 150 or Rallye. The costs of keeping a certified GA aircraft in service have spiralled in Europe and only wealthy owners can keep them up. I know wealthy men and women who have changed to Permit aircraft because of the costs and bureaucracy attached to certified aircraft..... I can fly for three or four hours in a Jodel for the cost of a club 172, can use a much wider range of airfields, can avoid controlled airspace as required and can hang around with like-minded people. I know so many people on good incomes who can no longer justify the cost of using GA aircraft and have embraced the homebuilt/microlight/classic types, to stay current and to stay enjoying flight
 

Little Scrapper

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Cost: I have a CPL and it's expensive to keep and I prefer homebuilds, classics and microlights to store-bought aircraft. Pilots in Ireland like me have learned that an aircraft from the three types listed can be owned and operated for much less than the cost of a certified aircraft, even a humble 150 or Rallye. The costs of keeping a certified GA aircraft in service have spiralled in Europe and only wealthy owners can keep them up. I know wealthy men and women who have changed to Permit aircraft because of the costs and bureaucracy attached to certified aircraft..... I can fly for three or four hours in a Jodel for the cost of a club 172, can use a much wider range of airfields, can avoid controlled airspace as required and can hang around with like-minded people. I know so many people on good incomes who can no longer justify the cost of using GA aircraft and have embraced the homebuilt/microlight/classic types, to stay current and to stay enjoying flight
Yeah, same here. I make decent money but with 3 kids, wife, and life expenses it's pretty hard to justify certified airplanes when so many homebuilts with great reputations and flight qualities exist. The real question for me is, why would I want a certified airplane and all the stuff associated with it? I do have a partnership with a Taylorcraft but that's a unique situation.
 

wltrmtty

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I don't see my rationale as an option in the poll: "My mission profile doesn't call for a high dollar airplane" or, "I just want to get back to the basics of sport aviation." That's why I'm building a Pober Junior Ace.
 

Turd Ferguson

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I don't see my rationale as an option in the poll: "My mission profile doesn't call for a high dollar airplane" or, "I just want to get back to the basics of sport aviation." That's why I'm building a Pober Junior Ace.
What do you estimate for capital investment when it takes to the air for the first time?
 

Aesquire

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Actually a Minimax or such will likely be cheaper than a PPC, and it doesn't have the life limited wing the PPC has.

Dana
The PPC is a Very Limited Aircraft. Fun, & pretty affordable, don't get me wrong, but any airplane that tops out at ( say ) 26 knots is a case of wait for the rare day that's flyable and I have time off. OTOH it's perfect for a small trailer and operating expenses are very low. Low enough that replacing the 'chute every X hours might still be cheaper than a Minimax Plus Hanger rent.

The Minimax is a sweet open air machine that, although not a speed demon, at least has the legs and speed to do some cross country flying.

Any Open cockpit or no cockpit plane is a bit masochistic.... or thrilling, depending on your weird. I ride motorcycle, so I fully appreciate the difference between sitting IN a car watching the scenery like it's a video game, vs. ON a bike immersed in the real world. ( even behind a full face helmet )

I don't expect anything called "inexpensive" to be good at trans Atlantic trips... ( there are exceptions ) The Mission drives the specs.

Affordability is certainly dependent on lifestyle nearly as much as income.

To beat an analogy with a stick, Cars.... Average income in the U.S. is just under $50k. The last car I bought was $10k. 3 year loan for $7k ( second car, Minivan, for hauling loads & as a replacement for the primary car... which is being recalled... ) Primary car was $30k all up. 5 year loan for $25K

I've got a mortgage, and practically fixed income ( Union ) about average, but can get some overtime. It wasn't a bad hardship to pay off loans for half my income.

And I know that I can have any car I want.... to a point. If I save & skimp on fancy meals at Wendy's I can have a Corvette. Call that one year's income.

If I drop any other expensive hobbies, I can have a top of the line "vette that's twice my income. ( Or King Ranch Pickup starting at 1.5 times my income... to twice )

I can't see any way to afford a Ferrari. Except used.... and good luck getting a loan for that. Possible, but not optimum.

So While I CAN afford to get a Minimax, or a decent used Cessna 150, I'm highly unlikely to get a Lancair. Or that dream Stemme.

So for me.... a Bearhawk LSA or a RV-12 is going to be a King Ranch/ZR-1 Corvette purchase. Pretty much past any rational limit, but just in the grasp of the gearhead/drag racer irrational hobbyist rationalization. High end 912 equipped Trikes edge into this category too. ( and for $100,000.... twice the national average income... I'd go for the RV-12 Or Bearhawk for the practicality..)

A Xenos/Sonex fits in the low end luxury car price.... Doable with mild rationalization, and a pretty common level of mild foolishness in the car world. As the financial salesmen keep telling us, that $55k Mercedes, if you'd just kept the old Honda instead, works out to a Million Dollars if you'd invested in Yoyodyne stock, by the time you retire. ;)

A not-fancy Trike or Himax or even a Xenos ( without the quickbuild option... and no paint... and the cheapest engine ) all fall under the decent used car to cheapest new car category.... with sweat equity.


Of course the analogy is far less than perfect. The cheapest Dodge Dart ( new ) is just as capable of driving from NY to LA as a Ferrari. ( in fact, I'd bet on less trouble with the Dart )

An ultralight Trike can, eventually do the job... but so can a riding lawn mower. In either case, it's not a trip, it's an adventure.

I put the Minimax in the same category, practical car wise... as an open Morgan 3 wheel... or a Polaris Slingshot. You may not get a novel out of a sea to sea trip, but you will have a few good articles for Kitplanes.

Sonex... RV's.... even a Dragonfly, all can do that continental trip with minimal drama. ( and luggage ) Bit more speed though:)
 
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