This post opens a new category: airplane building. I’ve been wanting to get a pilot’s license for a long time, and I got halfway back in 2001 before losing momentum and realizing the financial futility of the endeavor. This past spring I thought I would get back into it, actually flew twice back in Massachusetts before it became clear that we were moving to CA which kind of made that pointless.
But what really got me fired up was the realization that you can build your own airplane! From a cost perspective it’s a big win, because when you are your own manufacturer you can do all maintenance yourself, not to mention that building a plane is generally a lot cheaper than buying one (for what you get). And how cool is that?!? It totally seemed like a project for someone like me.
I looked around for what suitable airplane models were around. Generally you can either buy a kit, where you do the assembly, or you can build from scratch. There are some cool kits out there. Check out this video featuring the Lancair Legacy:
How awesome is that? They’re fast! However, they’re also a bit on the pricey side, at $75k for the kit plus something like $50k for the engine…
After looking around some more, I pretty much settled on the Rutan Long-EZ. This was a quite popular aircraft to build back in the early 80’s, when the Rutan Aircraft Factory sold plans to them. It’s small, economical and relatively fast “canard” airplane (meaning the big wing is in the back) built from scratch out of fiberglass. This is a pretty good video showing it off even if it can’t match the Vince Walker video in awesomeness:
The catch is that they stopped selling plans to them back around ’84. There are still people building them, though, and you can still find unused plans around. Before moving to CA, I picked up a set of plans with serial #1122 off a guy nearby who’d never gotten around to building. Now I just needed to find space and learn the technique!
Moving to LA, starting at SpaceX, and buying the motorcycles put this on the back burner for a while, but when I saw that the Experimental Aircraft Association was having their SportAir workshops in Riverside I signed up for the composite one. That’s the next post.