New member from IN

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digitaldrifter

New Member
Joined
May 7, 2010
Messages
3
Location
Hobbieville, IN
HI everyone. My name is Joel and I just recently got the bite! Well, not recently I guess. I've always been into aviation, starting with the WWII planes. Somehow I ended up with a degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Illinois, which doesn't help anything.

I moved to IN back in October for my job, working for the Navy at their Crane facility. I've been trying to find a way to get into flying, but since I still have my student loans, car payments, a baby on the way, and soon a new house, I thought I was out of luck. I found out that there was an EAA chapter near me, in Bloomington, so I inquired about membership and got all sorts of responses. Just yesterday someone who happens to work at the base, and is a member of the EAA group, offered to take me for a quick ride in his plane. Believe it or not, I've only been flying maybe a half dozen times in my life, every time being on an airliner, the smallest being an Embraer 145.

The gentleman has two aircraft, a Zenith 701 he built from scratch, and a Socata TB9 Tampico. The field he's based out of is a small grass strip which got caught in the floods back in '08, and so his 701 is out of commission until he goes through the engine again. When I pulled up, he was giving it a quick rub down and I got to get up close and personal to the TB9. After hearing about the immense (lack of) room in the typical general aviation craft, such as the 150/172's, I was mighty impressed with the room and comfort of the TB9.

After some small talk and his pre-flight inspection, I hopped in and donned the headset. A shout of "clear" and the engine roars to life. I wasn't prepared for the torque of the engine, an O-320 I believe. I guess several hundred cubic engines in an airplane weighing less than 2000lbs would kind of shake things up a bit! So he calls over the radio his intent to taxi (to the attendant in a tractor mowing the field), gives some throttle, and we thunder down the runway. It was well graded, but bumpy none the less, although not in a scary way. A little less than halfway down he starts the rotation, and a few seconds later I realize we are up in the air! Woo Hoo! He does a quick turnaround, heading S, and climbs to about 2000ft agl.

He gives me some suggestions of places to fly over, and then asks me to take over the controls. Oh crap, this isn't anything like one of my flight sims! I never had rudder control for those, and I had a joystick to boot, not a yoke! I grip the yoke tightly, knuckles turning white, to counteract the turbulence we were encountering at that altitude. I was pretty surprised at how much there was, considering it was a gorgeous 70 degrees, barely any wind at ground level, and hardly any clouds out. After a few minutes, though, I relax a bit and take her for a few turns, showing my now co-pilot where my new house was, then he pointed out where he worked at, and where he lived. We spent about 45 minutes in the air, and I did the majority of the flying. Fuel was running a bit low, so I set him up for approach and he took over the controls. He said he came in a bit hot, but I thought the landing was fine considering it was a grass strip, and it's not like we were flirting with the end of the runway or anything.

I don't think it really hit me how exhilarating it was to fly in a small plane until my car ride home. I had to drive about 45 minutes through the winding back roads of rural IN, and my car, an '07 Kia Rio, takes the turns pretty good. But it just wasn't the same. Everything felt so... close. I don't know, I'm sure you all know that intangible feeling one has after a flight, I don't need to try to explain it. It definitely has whetted my appetite for flying!

I've been looking at a few particular airplanes for a while, but it will be a little while until I even have the money to purchase one, and even then, it won't be a very expensive one. That's one of the reasons I'm attracted to the home built airplanes. It will allow me to build at my own pace, and I won't necessarily have to put everything down up front. At first I was considering buying a kit, the Zenith Zodiac being my plane of choice. However, the gentleman that took me on the flight said the he built his 701 from scratch, and had less than $6k in it to boot, albeit it took him 7 years to finish it. I can swing that!

Right now (meaning, I have a short attention span, so this may change in, like, 23.564 seconds) I think I'd like to try to build a small, simple, single seat first to hone my skills, then to advance to something more flexible. I've been thinking either a Teenie Two or Hummelbird, but I recently found out about the Ercoupe, and LOVE the design. Well, I can't afford a real one, but the sister plane to the Two is the Mini Coupe. It looks like there have been several built. Does anyone have any feedback on how comprehensive the plans are? Will this be a good choice for a first time builder?

Once I finish my first one, I'd like to try to build something I can take my growing family in. The Zenith CH640 looks like it would fit the bill. I know some people don't like the way it looks, but I love simple, reliable, utilitarian things, so that's one of the reasons I like that design.

Sorry to ramble. I've been reading through a few of the topics here and it looks like you're a great, helpful bunch of folks. Hopefully I can meet a few of you at some distant airport somewhere.
 

bob.shea

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 24, 2009
Messages
74
Location
wonderlake IL USA
Wellcome
There is a mini coupe group in yahoo. its not real active but the gentleman who has the prints for a mini checks it often. There are several minis that are flying today, several still being built, (mine was started 30 years ago) There are also or at least there were a couple of teenies for sale in barnstormers.
you can e-mail me if you want any names or #s for the mini group or prints
Good luck
 
M

Mike12

Welcome mates ..!! New one for this forum just as you both..!! Want to be check as frequent as I could..!

.
.
 

pwood66889

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2007
Messages
1,860
Location
Sopchoppy, Florida, USA
"I recently found out about the Ercoupe, and LOVE the design. Well, I can't afford a real one, but the sister plane to the Two is the Mini Coupe. It looks like there have been several built. Does anyone have any feedback on how comprehensive the plans are? Will this be a good choice for a first time builder?"

The MiniCoupe is as good a choice as Jeanies Teenie. They employ the same sheet and extrusion, assembled with blind rivets. The plans are comprehensive enough (at least the set I have) but I do suggest getting help, like from that EAA chapter you mentioned.

And do consider the Ercoupe. They run from $20K and up, but can be flown under Sport Pilot rules = lots cheaper than gainng the full Private Pilot.

Percy in SE Bama
 

digitaldrifter

New Member
Joined
May 7, 2010
Messages
3
Location
Hobbieville, IN
Thanks for the welcome guys.

That's my dilemma pwood. I know it will take a lot of time to build my own plane, but I could build one for half the price even of an Ercoupe. However, the Ercoupes are still not expensive at all, and when I buy one I can fly it right away. The thing is, due to all the other stuff I have going on, it'll probably be a couple of years before I have the money to get one, and I don't want to get my license until I have (or have easy, cheapish) access to a plane. Hell, maybe I'll attempt to build a Mini Coupe, and then buy an Ercoupe when I get some stuff paid off.
 

Autodidact

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 21, 2009
Messages
4,513
Location
Oklahoma
Hey Joel, sounds like you may be a pretty busy guy, do you have time to build? I've never built an aircraft, but the things I have built always required more persistance than I thought they would. Sounds like you really want to fly. If building is the only way you can see to afford it (you have to buy a lot of tools too, or else build them!), then plan the build thoroughly before you start so there will be as few unknowns as possible. Plan your time as well.

You are an aerospace engineer; you could design an aircraft as a project (which would be a gift for the rest of us) while saving up to buy an Ercoupe. Or, perhaps you could refurbish an aircraft if money is really tight.

The Thacher CX-4 is a nice design and uses the VW also.

Can you weld? Do woodwork?

All just ideas, lots to consider here. Congrats on the degree!
 

Joe Fisher

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2007
Messages
1,379
Location
Galesburg, KS South east Kansas
Some things to consider airplanes are not selling and they sell for a lot less than they are advertised for right now. When you are through with a certificated airplane it will still sell what you payed for it. A home built will usually sell for less than it cost to build it. BARNSTORMERS.COM Look here for you will find some pretty cheep deals on both certificated and home built airplanes.
 

digitaldrifter

New Member
Joined
May 7, 2010
Messages
3
Location
Hobbieville, IN
Auto, I actually would have a decent amount of time (I think), it's really the current money situation. Since I'm a federal employee, I normally work a straight 80 hours every two weeks. I don't like overtime! We'll have our cars paid off in about 3 years, and then I would be able to purchase something for sure. But, I might be able to build something small in that time. Like I said, maybe I'll do both!

I don't have much experience with hands on stuff like welding, but I pick up stuff pretty fast. Designing something and building it from scratch appeals to me as well, but I don't know if I could come up with something unique enough for others to build as well, since there are already a boat load of designs out there.

Joe, you have a good point too. There are quite a few Ercoupes on barnstormers for a good price, and due to the economy, probably aren't selling. Let's hope that situation is similar when I can afford it!
 

Nickathome

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2009
Messages
758
Location
S.E. PA
Even though some aircraft may be selling cheaply right now(check trade-a-plane c150's can be had around $17-$22k+/-), consider though that these aircraft will all be at least 20-30 + years old and will more than likely require extra expense in the form of annuals and overhauls, etc to get them, or keep them airworthy. This doesn't include the hourly operation costs and storage fees etc. At least with a homebuilt, you are guaranteed a brand new aircraft when completed. That's one reason I have been shying away from the certified aircraft. I've always wanted to own a C-150 or 152, but they just don't seem like the right way to go anymore from the age standpoint. I know it all depends upon condition and upkeep but any way you look at it, you will be buying an aged airplane using aged technology. You can build a Sonex with digital instrument package for under $30K. Time to build is about 3-5 years from what I understand, and again in the end you have a brand new aircraft. That's the most likely way I will go within the next year. Fortunately in my case my kids are both close to teenage years so I can retire to the garage to work on the plane without having to assist mom with the kids every ten minutes.

If you have a kid on the way brother, you won't have much time on your hands trust me. At least for the first few years. Its not fair to mom to have to raise junior while dad's building his toy, and trust me mom will let you know about it every day. I sold an antique truck I owned when my oldest was a baby for this very reason. Well, not the only reason but it was a big one.
 

ddsrph

Active Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2010
Messages
42
Location
Tullahoma, Tenn
I just joined this site also. I used to own a Ercoupe and like them, but be careful in buying. Not all are LSA eligible if that is important and there are several AD's out with one requiring extensive inspection and possible expensive repair of the center section and wings. I used to live in Vevay, In and fly up to madison (IMS) several times a year to visit my mother and sister in Vevay. Another route to consider is to buy a certified project airplane, assuming you can find a IA who will work with you on getting it certified and letting you do most of the work. It will give the advantage of spreading costs over time but in the end will cost more than just buying something in good shape, currently flying. Start going to local EAA fly-in breakfast and see what's available and if you get time attend the Lee Bottoms fly-in coming up very soon near madison.

JM
 

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