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
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.
Most 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
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
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).
* EAA - Experimental
* FAA - Federal Aviation
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.