Storing Tube and Fabric outdoors in CA desert?

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Well-Known Member
Jan 17, 2013
Los Angeles, CA
Hi all,

Newbie here, I have been considering several sheet metal designs (Zenith, Savannah) as well as tube and fabric (Skyranger, X-air H, Skyraider, Ridge Runner 3) for my first build. I was actually all about metal aircraft because of the fact they can be tied down outdoors, but many of the t&f craft are built around chromoly and aluminum tube cages, which are arguably better in a forced landing, so I expanded my horizons. Bottom line, I'm on a tight budget as it is (need to build complete for 30-35K), and tying down here in SoCal saves at least $3000 a year in hangar fees. Ideally, a quick folding trailerable aircraft that I can store offsite or in someone's hangar for cheap would be ideal (and all of my t&f options listed above do fold), but if that's not an option I just want to know:

If I get a full set of covers (like Bruce's, or equivalent) that cover every square inch of my plane from spinner to tail (including cowl plugs, tailcone, and prop), can I tie my plane down outdoors without too much degradation? Will that protect as well as covered parking or a hangar? Which fabrics would last the longest, and how long would they last if I stored outdoors under a full set of covers?

Also, can anyone tell me which fabric is used on the Skyraider/Ridge Runner? couldn't find it on the site.

I know there's a few threads out there about storing outdoors but I didn't find anything about using a full set of covers to combat the climate/weather.

I'm in the high desert of southern California, so summers are very hot and winters are cold, and we don't get much moisture at all. Would love to hear some feedback from tube and fabric aircraft owners on this. Thanks!


Super Moderator
Staff member
Apr 3, 2007
There are two main types of fabric covering. Both use polyester fabric. Traditional aircraft covering is fabric with sone of several types of coating (Ceconite, Stits, some others. The coating usually includes a layer for UV protection, which will be the biggest enemy of fabric in SoCal. I don't know how long that would hold up to desert sun, but I believe 15 years is typical elsewhere.

Aircraft derived from the ultralight world use a similar fabric, but in sewn envelopes with no coating. These should not be stored outdoors without some kind of cover, or you'll be lucky to get a year before the UV degrades the fabric.

The ability to fold the wings and keep it in an enclosed trailer or shared hangar is a big plus.


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Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Dec 16, 2007
Port Townsend WA
I have owned 8 airplanes in Alaska, all stored outside.
Yes a cover can help, they last about 5 years, I think. (Check Bruce Covers website)

Do need good tie downs, gust locks and just common sense.
It might need a rebuild after 20 -30 years to look new.


Well-Known Member
Jan 30, 2012
New Zealand
Something else to consider -
Rag and tube planes these days, the polyester fabric is heat shrunk not dope shrunk in most cases. You need to paint your plane a light colour otherwise it can get hot enough to shrink the tapes (which aren't preshrunk) if you're parked outside in the hot desert. That shrinking causes the tapes to lift and peel otherwise. Not a game-changer, just a colour changer....
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