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anaphylaxis

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Since my last thread on the subject, I took another look at my requirements and decided that I needed to willing to spend a bit more.

It seems that the Sonex / Onex are the most cost effective options out there and have the most reasonable build times.

So, a few questions:

1. Any opinions on Sonex in general? I guess my main concerns are that I have limited space and no prior experience with this stuff. I'd hate to start on something and wind up with a project I have to sell.

2. How about on the Sonex vs. Onex? Onex seems to be the least expensive option out of any kit out there. The lack of a second seat isn't an issue, with a $2k difference it would be nice but extras add up quickly.

3. I see there are kits and partial completions out there. What is the best way to verify these are complete kits and ensure the quality of construction on partial builds? I'd hate to get a "good deal" and spend just as much undoing someone else's mistakes.
 

autoreply

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Resale value of the Onex might be a lot lower. 2-seaters do far better on the 2nd hand market.

Make sure you fly any plane before building.

If you haven't built before, try to have an experienced metal-builder accompanying you to a potential buy. General impression of the builder you're thinking of buying from can also be telling.
 

Vigilant1

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1. Any opinions on Sonex in general? I guess my main concerns are that I have limited space and no prior experience with this stuff. I'd hate to start on something and wind up with a project I have to sell.
I didn't build mine, so I can't tell you much about that. The biggest news is that Sonex now offers matched hole construction in their kits. You still need to updrill the holes before riveting, but this speeds things up a lot. Of course, there's still the option to buy the Sonex plans and build from scratch (that's not an option for the Onex or Waiex, though).
2. How about on the Sonex vs. Onex? Onex seems to be the least expensive option out of any kit out there. The lack of a second seat isn't an issue, with a $2k difference it would be nice but extras add up quickly.
I gotta say, I don't quite "get" the Onex. The folding wing feature would be nice if you could use it ( e.g. to save $$ by sharing a hangar), but aside from that . . . ? The weight saving isn't much, resale value will be lower, and the dollar savings, in the grand scheme of things, is a drop in the bucket. Some Sonex's are built for a single person: Center stick, one set of peddles, etc. More common is a center stick with two sets of pedals--flown solo, just put feet on the outboard pedals and enjoy the "wide ride" Harley feel. Lots of available weight for carrying stuff when flown solo, and lots of panel room. You are based at a high airport in Colorado--If you go with the Onex, see if users in similar situations are going with/recommend the longer wing option.

3. I see there are kits and partial completions out there. What is the best way to verify these are complete kits and ensure the quality of construction on partial builds? I'd hate to get a "good deal" and spend just as much undoing someone else's mistakes.
Take an experienced builder with you. Someone who has built the exact model you are looking at would be best by far. The Sonex Builders and Pilots Foundation is now putting together a checklist that potential buyers can use, it will probably be done in a few months. Check out their web page.

Nothing can take the place of direct experience in this game. Go to a fly-in, talk to people, then get a ride in a Sonex. Do you like the way it handles? Do you fit in it well? Does the design inspire confidence? The Sonex builders workshop is a good way to find out if you like working with metal, though obviously they will make things as simple as possible (they are trying to sell kits, after all). The EAA Sportair workshops are another thing to look into. Or, find a local builder that is willing to have your help.
 

gtae07

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I have a set of Sonex plans and had just gotten started when circumstances changed and I realized I could afford the RV I had really been after. I'm still holding onto the plans to use later (either as a second airplane with a partner, or if one of my future kids gets the bug, they'll get an airplane instead of a car) but I've shelved them for now. My impression is that the plans are very good and clear*. If you're new to reading engineering drawings it will take a little getting used to, though that would be the case with any project. The skills are easy to learn, especially if you're going with a kit vs. a scratch-build. If you've never worked with this kind of stuff before, I'd recommend going to one of the workshops Sonex puts on, or a sheetmetal workshop somewhere else (e.g. an EAA class or one of the RV workshops). There will likely be some experienced metal builders (mostly RV guys) in your general vicinity, and at least a couple of them will probably be willing to help you with your first few parts and assemblies.

From those who have flown both, the Sonex is supposed to handle kind of like a little RV, though obviously the speeds and climb rates are lower (and vary widely on engine choice). The taildragger is reportedly very docile and saves a little weight WRT a nosedragger. Unless you're a small guy, the Sonex can get a little cozy and baggage-limited with two on board, but you said most of your flying will be solo. Sonex vs. Waiex handling is transparent to the pilot, except the conventional-tail Sonex can reportedly handle a little bit higher crosswind component.

As autoreply said, try one on for size and get a flight if at all possible, preferably in an airplane with the engine type you are looking at. Posting on the Sonex yahoo list could help you find someone in the area who is willing to take you up.


One thing to note in general is that building yourself doesn't really save you much money over buying a flying aircraft (experimental vs. certified is another debate). In most cases you'll spend about as much buying a flying Sonex as you will building one from a kit; you'll just save yourself a thousand hours of work, though you'll have to get your yearly condition inspection done by an A&P instead of doing it yourself. Late-model RVs seem to be one of the few aircraft that can be sold for more than build cost, at least when appropriately equipped. Scratchbuilding can potentially save you thousands over the cost of a kit, but then you still need an engine, instruments, etc. and you will do a lot more work. I wouldn't recommend going the scratch route for someone in your situation unless you're really the craftsman type or you have a whole ton of spare time and are willing to take ten-plus years to build.

If you're considering a partially-complete project, get someone with a lot of metal experience (former builder, EAA tech counselor, etc) to go with you--and preferably someone in that category who knows that particular design, if you can find one. Someone with general metal experience will be able to tell major problems very quickly and could give you a good idea of overall build quality and workmanship; someone who knows the specific aircraft type will know where the "gotchas" and difficult places are (e.g. wing attach blocks and angles on the Sonex family, the wing skin to fuselage screws on a short-wing RV). You can save a lot of time and money this way, but it can also potentially bite you if you aren't careful.



*As an engineer I have done lots of drawings. There are a couple of places where they made projections and views of angle extrusion parts much differently or even backwards from what I would have done--they aren't wrong, just diffferent and harder for me personally to read. Make sure you look at all of the views of a particular part before cutting. There were a couple of parts I had to make three or four times because I kept making the rough cuts wrong--eventually had to go model the part in Catia and re-drop the views the way I wanted them for it to make sense to me.
 

anaphylaxis

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As autoreply said, try one on for size and get a flight if at all possible, preferably in an airplane with the engine type you are looking at. Posting on the Sonex yahoo list could help you find someone in the area who is willing to take you up.
It looks like there are 5 completions within a 100 mile radius. So, that is being worked on.

One thing to note in general is that building yourself doesn't really save you much money over buying a flying aircraft (experimental vs. certified is another debate). In most cases you'll spend about as much buying a flying Sonex as you will building one from a kit; you'll just save yourself a thousand hours of work, though you'll have to get your yearly condition inspection done by an A&P instead of doing it yourself. Late-model RVs seem to be one of the few aircraft that can be sold for more than build cost, at least when appropriately equipped. Scratchbuilding can potentially save you thousands over the cost of a kit, but then you still need an engine, instruments, etc. and you will do a lot more work. I wouldn't recommend going the scratch route for someone in your situation unless you're really the craftsman type or you have a whole ton of spare time and are willing to take ten-plus years to build.
The scratch building idea is definitely out.

I've considered the cost on a kit vs. something flying. I'm also tempted to just buy a certified aircraft to be done with it. Then, I've heard that acquiring the aircraft is actually the cheap part. It's the numerous little things that have been deferred in annual year after year, plus other maintenance things that keep occurring, that become expensive. My thought with the experimental route is that while the initial costs will be similar, the long term cost has the potential to be much less. Fuel savings are huge, for example.

Thanks for the suggestions.
 

skier

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I gotta say, I don't quite "get" the Onex. The folding wing feature would be nice if you could use it ( e.g. to save $$ by sharing a hangar), but aside from that . . . ? The weight saving isn't much, resale value will be lower, and the dollar savings, in the grand scheme of things, is a drop in the bucket. Some Sonex's are built for a single person: Center stick, one set of peddles, etc. More common is a center stick with two sets of pedals--flown solo, just put feet on the outboard pedals and enjoy the "wide ride" Harley feel. Lots of available weight for carrying stuff when flown solo, and lots of panel room.
I have to agree with you here. Maybe if they had gone with a 1/2 VW (35hp) instead of the Aerovee I would have understood more. Then you save money on the engine and save money on fuel burn, but as it stands you have the same engine, almost the same cost, and similar building times. IMHO, you're losing out by getting the Onex.
 

danmoser

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I've sat in both Sonex 2-place with my son, and Onex single-place cockpits.. the Onex is NICE... my favorite of their line, if for no other reason, that I fit nicely into their cockpit, at my larger-than-average size.. The Sonex is ridiculously small for two normal-sized people, and for two above-average-size folks, it is horribly cramped!
The Sonex people stubbornly refuse to offer a roomier option for their two-place side-by-side designs.
This, for me, is a show stopper, which is sad because I love everything else about Sonex aircraft.
 

Vipor_GG

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You can fly solo in a two place, but you can't take someone with you in a single place. The only place I see a single place being practical is for a second plane.
 

Battson

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The Onex isn't meaningfully smaller or cheaper IMHO, given your constraints I think either is an option.

You would be best to think about why you fly, if you ever see yourself flying with friends or a partner - I suggest two place. Personally I seldom fly with an empty aircraft, be that spare gear / equipment, or just friends along for a ride. But on the flip side, you still pay for that space whether you use it or not - both during the build and in operating costs. Size & weight = $$$ when it comes to flying, that applied to all aircraft.
 

bmcj

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Sorry for drudging up an old thread, but I didn't want to clutter the forum with another thread when the subject matter fit within this one...

We had a new Onex do a hard landing on its first test flight a couple of days ago. It doesn't look like it faired to well. Emergency crews had to extract the pilot from the wreckage and hospitalize him for back injuries.

Onex.jpg
 

Vigilant1

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We had a new Onex do a hard landing on its first test flight a couple of days ago. It doesn't look like it faired to well. Emergency crews had to extract the pilot from the wreckage and hospitalize him for back injuries.

View attachment 46523
When we know a lot more about what happened we can make an informed judgement of how well the airframe did at protecting the pilot.
Unless a plane is on fire or there's another reason to hustle an occupant out of a crashed airplane, I'd >always< wait for emergency crews with proper training and equipment to get the occupants out.
 

bmcj

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When we know a lot more about what happened we can make an informed judgement of how well the airframe did at protecting the pilot.
Unless a plane is on fire or there's another reason to hustle an occupant out of a crashed airplane, I'd >always< wait for emergency crews with proper training and equipment to get the occupants out.
No argument there. I was only stating that it suffered some pretty bad damage from what the news called "a hard landing", and we all know how much the news wants to call it a "plane crash", so I am guessing that the choice of "hard landing" is well informed. From what I gathered (3rd and 4th hand), he did high speed runs down the runway most of the day before attempting his first flight. I am unclear, but it sounds like the event flight was straight down the runway (which might account for him being past and beside the runway). Of course, any damage from a balked landing is acceptable as long as the pilot and passengers survive with no (or recoverable) injuries.
 

TFF

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What is the mission? Distilled. What are the limitations? Airplanes very seldom do many things well. What airplane are you experienced with right now and what are you trying to do better?
 

Vigilant1

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I was only stating that it suffered some pretty bad damage from what the news called "a hard landing", and we all know how much the news wants to call it a "plane crash", so I am guessing that the choice of "hard landing" is well informed.
We'll see what comes out. Most of what I see in the press or from police regarding first reports of aviation incidents is just the opposite of "well informed." In the photo I see one undamaged prop blade (suggesting the engine was not running at time of impact (possibly shut down by the pilot, we don't know). The left wing/spar is buckled and bent up at quite an angle. We know that that spar is not a wispy thing (it's designed to a 9G structural limit), so this plane was definitely banged around quite hard in whatever happened. The cabin section of the plane seems to be intact, despite the impact.
 
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Little Scrapper

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I like the Sonex, but go sit in a CH 650 and there's no comparison, not even close.

Again, I really like the Sonex. But at some point ya gotta look at the competition and sitting in the cockpit of a CH 650 is just awesome.

If you like aluminum and are OK with single seat the RV3 is pretty affordable for what you get. Order the tail and build it, see if you like it.

My buddy built a RV 9a and it's an assembly game. You're not really building, didn't take him real long either.
 

Daleandee

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The Sonex is ridiculously small for two normal-sized people, and for two above-average-size folks, it is horribly cramped!
The Sonex people stubbornly refuse to offer a roomier option for their two-place side-by-side designs.
Horribly cramped? Not so much for two "normal sized people" but then me and my wife are not large folks (200 for me and a some less for her) but we aren't FAA size small either. We find the cockpit to be cozy but not horribly cramped. My son has flown with me and again while we were snug, it wasn't a horrible experience by any means. Now granted when I put my 250 pound brother in with me there was no room to spare and I wouldn't want to be in there long in that scenario.

There are some ways to make the most of the usable space in a Sonex. For anyone desiring to view my efforts:

http://www.homebuiltairplanes.com/forums/finishing-techniques/23867-interiors-3.html#post302420

The other factor is power. IMHO get as much as you can afford and for passengers I'd recommend at least 100 HP. I had an 80 HP Sonex tri-gear. Fun airplane but it wasn't fun on warm days with a passenger of much size.

Dunno if this helps ...

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

PS: My son and I going for a short ride - [video=youtube;rQVGFO2KTJw]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQVGFO2KTJw[/video]
 
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Vigilant1

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I like the Sonex, but go sit in a CH 650 and there's no comparison, not even close.

Again, I really like the Sonex. But at some point ya gotta look at the competition and sitting in the cockpit of a CH 650 is just awesome.
They are both good airplanes. It all boils down to what the mission is. If you want to do loops, wingovers, and you want crisper response to control inputs, the Sonex should/must be your choice. If you want a roomier cockpit and more stability, then the CH 650 is a better choice.
 
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