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Clay's RV9A Web Site

You built an Airplane?   You must be crazy!

I know how you feel.  That's what I thought when the guy that sits in the office across from me told me that he was building an airplane.

I had visions of him working in his garage, with a rough sketch for plans, painstakingly cutting individual pieces of wood or aluminum out of raw stock to make each part... for an airplane that had only flown in his mind.

And then I did some research.

Each year in the US, about 1000 "home built" or "amateur built" airplanes are built by individuals and then certified by the FAA*.  For comparison, a total of 1466 single engine airplanes were delivered worldwide in 2002 by "certified" manufacturers like Cessna, Piper, and others, down from 1644 in 2001.

Click to see full-size photoMost home-built aircraft are built from kits that are professionally designed, have parts that are precut and formed using advanced equipment, and are built with supervision from EAA* technical counselors, other builders, and FAA designated airworthiness representatives.

Even though these "amateur built" aircraft are certified by the FAA in the "Experimental" category, there really isn't a lot of experimenting going on.  The planes are professionally designed, and builders are assembling a plane according to plans and instructions just like many others before them.

I also found out that I could build a 2-seat, 180 MPH kit plane for around $50,000 and end up with a new airframe and modern instruments and avionics.  This sounded a lot better to me than the 30-year-old-plus Cessnas I've been renting that would cost about the same amount.  A new very basic Cessna 172 starts around $150,000 today and cruises at around 135mph (but it does seat 4 people...barely).

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*  EAA - Experimental Aircraft Association
*  FAA - Federal Aviation Administration

Many photos seen here were shamelessly pulled from other sites on the Web... If you see a photo of yours that shouldn't be here or would like credit, let me know.