Truly possible to build plane within $5-8k budget?

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venividibxtchy

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I fully admit ignorance on this issue, and have much more to learn about aircraft in general, but I'm curious if it is truly possible to build a safe, general-purpose airplane within a $5-8k budget?

I spoke to someone who owns their own 1973 Grumman Traveler AA-5 that they fly cross-country, and they convinced me that with knowledge and careful investment that it is possible. I said I always had an interest in flying, and in owning or even learning to build my own plane, but I had written off the idea due to the expense (and difficulty). It always seemed like a pipe dream for me.

I appreciate his encouragement, but after browsing many classifieds, and plane kits, the prices seem to be much, much higher...

Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
 

Joe Fisher

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Once some one starts to build a kit it isn't worth much. And most finished home built airplanes sell for less than the kit cost. There are exceptions the really popular ones like the RV series. So if you follow Barnstormers you can find airplane kits like Avid Flyer that sold for $16,000 and after not being finished might sell for $5,000.
 

wally

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If you can consider a single place, you might be able to build one for about that. Or as Joe said maybe find a partially built kit and finish it.

Or if you get lucky, you can sometimes find a single place flying plane for that amount. I have seen Flybabys go for about that.

I started with a partially built plane from plans but it included an engine. It was $9K. I thought I could finish it for not much more money in about a year. Ha! It took 4 years and way more money than I ever thought. But I did finish it and it flys just fine. Pic is at left. A Pitts special, 160 hp.
Wally
 

Hot Wings

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I'm curious if it is truly possible to build a safe, general-purpose airplane within a $5-8k budget?
Yes, it is possible. My brother is well along the way to building a VFR Tailwind for less than $5K, complet with 400 hour Lyc. O-320. He has hurricane Katrina to thank for the savings on the power. Should fly this summer - if he doesn't get sidetracked with his boat.

You can take your time and wait for good deals (save your cash so you can pounce when needed), or you can spend the money and "get it now". eBay is your friend:devious:
 

bob.shea

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May 24, 2009
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wonderlake IL USA
I'm trying to get it done, I paid $1700 for a single place, all metal plane ( kit was about 85% built, its 30 years old but clean, I am the 4th owner.) Baught basic instu. and portable radio off B-bay, about $500. The plane came with a 1600 vw that was in a flying plane. I havn't decided whether to rebuild or replace it yet. First trying to finish my private 30 hrs into it ( Love being in the air).
I am hoping to have the plane finished, a very basic single seat low wing, with basic VFR and a GPS for between 5 & 6 grand. might be worth $9000 when finished. But for me its a dream that I can own and fly forever.
So, Yes it can be done and I will do it, so can you.
But before you worry to much about how much money it will cost. set your self a time table to try to be finished. I tried for 3 years, now things have worked out that I will should make that, but if it takes 4 or 5 years so what, once done its yours forever. Set your goal and have a plan, be sure of the type of plane you want. changing your mind mid stream will always cost more.
I think the hardest part is just starting.
Good Luck
 

lr27

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Probably depends on what you mean by a general purpose airplane. If that means 180 mph, I'm guessing you would have to scrounge really hard. If 80mph, maybe not quite so hard. If you accepted an ultralight, it would be easy. A kit for a Weedhopper, with engine, is listed on their site for $8500, though I don't know if that's up to date, and it's not exactly "general purpose". I'll bet a Sky Pup could be built for the price of the engine plus $1000 or $2000, so if you were creative about the engine... Again, not exactly "general purpose".

If you join the Eaglersnests group, there's a Double Eagle listed for $13,000 already built. I'm guessing with a bit of scrounge one could build that design for well under $10k if they're willing to sell one that's done for that low. Of course it needs a trailer or hangering, and as designed it's not fully enclosed, and it's slow. I haven't actually seen one myself.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EaglersNests/app/forsale/view/list
 

scuba72

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Aug 8, 2008
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I'm a firm believer that it is possible to build within a $5000 - $8000 budget. So far I have right at $1000 invested in my Volkplane VP-1 project and that includes the VW core i bought. With more scrounging and with what looks like some raw material prices coming down I may come in at under $5000.

Dave in Missouri
 

Dan Thomas

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I have had several major projects over the years, and have found that they typically cost at least twice as much and will take four times as long as originally anticipated.

It's the little stuff that gets you. Bits of expensive hardware or engine parts, radios (that work), more paint than the book called for, and so on. If you're building a taildragger, for instance, and it's big enough to need a decently strong tailwheel like a Scott 3200, you'll be quoted something over $3000 for it. For a TAILWHEEL. Who'd a thunk it? As a guy with machining and welding experience I would build my own but that's not available to the average homebuilder. (You can buy a certified knock-off of the original 3200 from Alaska Bushwheel but they're still not as cheap as they should be.) The aircraft salvage yards typically ask 50% of the list price, and you're getting stuff that's three-quarters worn out already. Many older com radios can't be used once they come out of their original installations, for instance, because they don't meet the tighter tolerances that were imposed when the 760 channels were implemented. And old transponders and encoders are nothing but trouble.

The Hummelbird is about as cheap as you can get for a real, all-metal airplane. It uses the half-VW but that even costs $4000 or so. If you convert one yourself there's some specialty welding to it. Some guys have put Rotax 532s or 582s in them, but that engine costs money, too. The engine can cost as much as all the rest of the airplane put together. And that's why the occasional airplane owner come to the airport to fly and finds his cowling off and the engine mount hacksawed through and the engine gone. Or the prop missing. There are some guys who will do anything to get an engine.

Dan
 
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Joe Kidd

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5K to 8K for a completed plane? Perhap's you can get most of your material's and insturment's, maybe a good core engine, but iffy. Why? Have you honestly assesed your tool's, skill's and where you'll do the build? Everything spent for tool's, training and facilities is as much a part of the building cost as the plane kit or materials, so don't fail to consider it into the equation.
 

litespeed

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If you could stretch that to $10,000 you should be able to build a nice but basic panelled WW1 fighter. Great fun, easy 400hr build as a replica, and a heap of fun in a real aircraft, replica Guns and all.:gig:

Even if you take 700hrs to build a nice one it is very cool for a home build.:ban:

My favourite is a Fokker DVIII. As a complete kit minus instruments and engine it is under $6000. Add a VW, prop etc and elbow grease.

Easy 80mph cruise, good handling for a tail dragger and can be built as a ultra light if need be.

Check out Airdrome Aeroplanes ~ Holden, MO :nervous:

http://www.airdromeairplanes.com/FokkerD-VIII{3-4scale}.html

:lick::lick::lick::lick::lick::lick:

If you go very basic and really are resourceful you could do closer to your upper limit but spend a bit more as you build and WOW!

This type of plane can really be built beautifully with not much money.:)
 

piperpilot1363

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what about the legal eagle and double eagle? i hear they can be built for $3000-7000 depending on model and scrounging ability. How true is this claim?

Andrew
 

Nickathome

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I've been casually deciding whether I want to build or go for a well used production built plane. In my case I want all metal so my choices for an inexpensive kit or plans built plane are limited. The hummelbird is nice and seems inexpensive but for my size it'd be like stuffing 10lbs of $hit into a 5 lb bag. The Thatcher cx-4 is a real nice looking plane and can be built for under $20K, but that I realize is about 4 times more than what you want. The Teenie Two is a choice for you but its really small as well. Good luck and I hope you find a machine. If you do let me know because I would love to find something I can afford, and fit into.
 
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bmcj

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Unless you are going with light and slow, engine cost is likely going to be your deal-breaker.
 

needswings

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The BK1 (Bruce King BK1.0 Home Page) and the Hummel Bird (Hummel Aviation - Bryan, Ohio) will probably be fairly close to the 8k mark if your careful about what your spending your money on, and go for a basic instrument cluster.

Be aware though that only part of the cost will go into the plane - unless you've got a fairly well equiped workshop you may need to buy a load of tools.
 

SkyPirate

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I've got 3K invested ..built from scratch all 4130 tube fuselage,..6061 T-6 spars wood ribs,..I'm using a (211 lb) 2009 ford 2.0 dohc EFI 140 hp engine..can be had for $700.00 delivered with ECU from most salvage yards and low miles on it,.I'm building my own redrive with timken bearings,...my big purchase will be the panel .. possibly a MGL Odyssey,..garmin 430 .etc
started Dec 5th 2009 ..fuselage is rolling and almost ready for engine install,..wings are 1/2 to 3/4 built.

Aircraft engines are nice ,.but only tested at WOT for 200 hours ..auto engines are tested for 2000 hours at WOT,..and the myth about dual ignition ..this was incorperated in aircraft engines only to ensure proper fuel burn at first,..but then realized it add's redundency,..which was definately needed in early aircraft ignition systems ..not so in EFI ECU systems.
my 2 cents worth,..
 

bmcj

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Aircraft engines are nice ,.but only tested at WOT for 200 hours ..auto engines are tested for 2000 hours at WOT.
Not sure if I believe or agree with this. Everything else I've seen or read indicates that the auto engines are not designed to run at max allowable power for long durations (especially loaded) whereas aircraft engines do this regularly in normal use.

Still open minded, though, if you can convince me otherwise.
 

Starman

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I've toured an auto factory and saw engines undergoing this testing and they do run a WOT for weeks or months, until something breaks, then they check to see what broke. I have no idea if they go for 2000hours, and I suppose they do these long runs to the milder (family style) engines. Obviously a high performance or racing engine wouldn't last so long at WOT.

Someone wrote in this forum that there are V8 engines running oil wells and they run at high (maybe not full) throttle continuously for many months or years.
 

Twodeaddogs

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Engines for industrial functions can literally run from Jan 1 to Dec 31, if you have enough filtered oil, filtered fuel and air and switch-over systems for the oil feed. I saw industrial diesels running like that in various oil and gas fields. These ranged from four pot Cat diesels to big V-16s running on oilfield natural gas, diesel, heavy oil or even dump gas. Industrial turbines are routinely run for very long periods. I saw Cat diesels being built and tested and they would get about five hours each in the test cell and out to work they went.
 

Twodeaddogs

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Provided you were careful with material, had a decent enough workspace and tools and good at scrounging, you could certainly do a part 103 or European style microlight for that price. You'd have a basic instrument set-up, for sure and a basic trim and paint scheme but it's doable.
 

PTAirco

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My UL3 is up to about $4,000 in materials. Could use any of the bigger 2-strokes or a simple VW. So yes, it can be done, but it helps if you're the designer and you don't specify some specific items that cost a fortune, like streamline wires (or streamline steel tubing at $20/ft!) clevis eyebolts, high end rod ends, or any number of expensive "real" airplane items. Basic instruments and a handheld radio if you must. A sheet metal design can be cheap, since you can use cheaper automotive paints on it - or just polish it.
 

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