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Hey folks. Mitch here in Palmer, Alaska. Was a crew chief on Chinooks in the Army. I've wanted to be a pilot my entire life, starting when I first saw the show Airwolf when I was 3ish years old. Finally make enough money to where I can make that reality come true.

I'm a mechanic by trade. Didn't get my A&P, but it's on my radar.

Question is- what is the level of difficulty to build an airplane rather than buy one? High hour planes are still insane in price. It seems more cost effective to build one.
 

BJC

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Welcome.

To answer your question, a little more information about what kind of airplane would help. For example, it is much easier and much cheaper to buy an existing E-AB than it is to build it. There are two reasons to build: to get what is not commercially available, and for the experience. For most, that experience is gained through a long term project.


BJC
 

TFF

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Depends on definition of cost effective. Depends on type of plane. Alaska, fancy a Cub? The problem with Alaska is planes are valuable there, and you are in a bubble. Lower 48 they are somewhat cheaper. Getting one to Alaska is expensive. Comes in as a wash. New plane in Alaska is like new meat. Not Alaska worn. value goes up on it.
Where homebuilt wins is money spent can be in batches as you can afford. Your labor is free. You can build exactly what you want. No process is hard in building a plane. You do have to do all of it tho
Alaskans are lucky if in the Anchorage area because there are 4-5 aviation stores just like Walmart including aircraft spruce. Just walk in and get it.
 
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I do fancy the cub being in Alaska. I've been searching for cubs in the lower 48, and even in the midwest the prices are high. I live in Palmer. Alaska Bushwheel is just down the road, so getting parts will be the easiest part of this IF I do decide to go the builder route.

Anybody have any idea what the parts cost minus the firewall forward this usually runs? I'm looking at the Airframes Alaska 4 place PA-18 fuselage. 21k for the airframe. Is that a high price or standard?
 

pwood66889

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Welcome aboard, Mitch. I never worked on the CH-47 at Ft Rucker, but think they are real neat birds.
Do get the A&P! It gives an over-all view of airplanes that a career in practical Army Aviation may not. The Armed Forces specialize their people, so they may not be able to handle the unusual.
I am not familiar with Alaskan Bushwheel, but perhaps you could work with them to get your feet wet/hands dirty.
Best of luck to you, Mitch. Us flyer/fixers are 'da bomb.'
 

TFF

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$21 is standard, but that’s bare just a fuselage; nothing inside. For $4k you can buy all the metal, weld it yourself if you cut everything. There are companies that will cut the tube for another $4-5k. A friend has $200K plus in a fancy dancy Cub up there. If you buy premade stuff, you will spend at least $80k. If you make all the parts yourself maybe $25k without an engine. Good at scrounging, you might knock $10k down off that. Everything in between. The faster you want it together the more it will cost.
 

tralika

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Wasilla Alaska
If you haven't already done so, I suggest you look into the Experimental Aircraft Associan. The national website has lots of information about homebuilding including How To videos. The Anchorage Chapter (which has many members from the Mat-Su Valley) is pretty active with member projects from just starting to finished and flying. Once you define your mission you can choose an aircraft to build. Then you have to decide on building from scratch or a kit. As stated earlier the more complete the kit the more expensive. If you become a member of a local EAA chapter you will have an opportunity to network with other builders. That's nice for support but also to valuable to know if someone's project has stalled and they are willing to sell. I know of one builder in the valley that bought a kit 10 or 15 years ago and has barely started on it. Sometimes people like that decide to sell their kit for what they have in it. It's possible to pick up a complete kit that's 20, 30 or 40 percent less than the current price for a new kit. Keep in mind there are lots of planes out there that are not Cubs. Good Luck.

Aircraft Building | EAA

 

ToddK

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Depends on what you want, how much you want to spend, and what your time is worth.
 

blane.c

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There are STC's for 180hp Super Cubs to at least 2200lb gross weight and they usually weigh over 1400lbs empty so you are searching for an aircraft with STOL and 800lb useful load basically. I had a PA-11 fuselage with extended baggage, early no flap PA-18 wings (but spoilers added) and two 12 1/2 gallon fuel tanks in each wing, PA-11 tail (not nearly as wide as the PA-18) Atlee Dodge heavy duty gear 30" tires or skiis, Atlee Dodge cabin bracing and tail reinforcement, swing motor mount with O-290-D2 engine and 82x42 borer prop. It weighed just over 900lbs no electric ... none, hand propped and handheld radio. It flew many times @ 1800lbs. It flew in as tight a strip as I was ever willing to push it.
I liked the fuel tanks because when you go somewhere in Alaska fuel is a huge problem it is either super expensive, hard to get to the airplane, tainted with god knows what, or unavailable period. Seven hours of fuel allowed you to go somewhere, fly around the area, and return home.
Would it perform as good aa a Super Cub? No. Would I have been able to get use out of the difference in performance based on the hours I spent in the aircraft? likely not. (some consider me ok pilot)
If I had any money and wanted single engine bush performance I would go Bearhawk. Bearhawk Aircraft and to help reduce cost look at Aeromomentum engines
www.aeromomentum.com/am15.html
 
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Joined
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There are STC's for 180hp Super Cubs to at least 2200lb gross weight and they usually weigh over 1400lbs empty so you are searching for an aircraft with STOL and 800lb useful load basically. I had a PA-11 fuselage with extended baggage, early no flap PA-18 wings (but spoilers added) and two 12 1/2 gallon fuel tanks in each wing, PA-11 tail (not nearly as wide as the PA-18) Atlee Dodge heavy duty gear 30" tires or skiis, Atlee Dodge cabin bracing and tail reinforcement, swing motor mount with O-290-D2 engine and 82x42 borer prop. It weighed just over 900lbs no electric ... none, hand propped and handheld radio. It flew many times @ 1800lbs. It flew in as tight a strip as I was ever willing to push it.
I liked the fuel tanks because when you go somewhere in Alaska fuel is a huge problem it is either super expensive, hard to get to the airplane, tainted with god knows what, or unavailable period. Seven hours of fuel allowed you to go somewhere, fly around the area, and return home.
Would it perform as good aa a Super Cub? No. Would I have been able to get use out of the difference in performance based on the hours I spent in the aircraft? likely not. (some consider me ok pilot)
If I had any money and wanted single engine bush performance I would go Bearhawk. Bearhawk Aircraft and to help reduce cost look at Aeromomentum engines
www.aeromomentum.com/am15.html
What automotive engine is that based off of?
 
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One of my fellow crew members from back in the day is going to build a PA-18 using the Airframes Alaska fuselage in my shop behind my house. He lives just a few miles away in Wasilla. Engine is coming from Aircraft Spruce. IO-320 is 30k. I'll be helping him build it when my schedule allows with my stupid day job 😐. I'll also be finally starting my private license when I get back from a month long stint on the slope at the end of July. The dreaming stages are finally over.
 

blane.c

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One of my fellow crew members from back in the day is going to build a PA-18 using the Airframes Alaska fuselage in my shop behind my house. He lives just a few miles away in Wasilla. Engine is coming from Aircraft Spruce. IO-320 is 30k. I'll be helping him build it when my schedule allows with my stupid day job 😐. I'll also be finally starting my private license when I get back from a month long stint on the slope at the end of July. The dreaming stages are finally over.
Get your written completed before you start flight training.

Yes everything gets compared to the Super Cub which tells you it is the standard. The Bearhawk compares well.
 
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Started flying yesterday. Went very well. Better than my CFI expected. Been studying for a couple days. A lot of it is coming back to me pretty quick from my days of Crewing on Helicopters over 11 years ago.
 
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