January 5, 2021
I have always wanted to build my own airplane. I like to build things anyway and my garage is always full of model airplane or rocket parts, small electronic projects or whatever else I think of that might be fun to build.
What could be more fun and rewarding to build than a real life airplane?
There is also a HUGE economic incentive to build. I can have the features and performance of a several hundred thousand dollar airplane for tens of thousands of dollars. I can put instruments, engines and avionics in my plane that would be illegal to install in a Cessna. This gives me the freedom to use technology that won't be in production aircraft for another ten years. How many $30,000 airplanes have you seen that had an autopilot? Well I have flown one.
The FAA also allows the builder of the aircraft to perform all of the maintenance on the aircraft themselves, including the annual condition inspection. This can save thousands of dollars. It makes sense too, because who knows the aircraft systems better than the person that built the aircraft, and who cares more about it's safe operation than the person that will be flying it?
When I tell people that I am going to build my own plane, many times they act like I am nuts. I really like it when they look at my wife and say "Are you really going to fly with him?" I trust myself to build this plane more than I trust the guys at the XYZ aircraft company who don't have a personal health stake in the aircraft that they are building. Many people have the mistaken idea that I am designing the aircraft. I have no intention of designing my own airplane. I am building an airplane that was designed by someone who is far more capable than myself. There are over 2600 flying examples of the type of aircraft that I have chosen and I know that I can build it to the specifications of the designer. If I finish a part and it does not meet the specs, I will either fix it or build it again. I will have a safe aircraft when I am finished and if I think for one second that it isn't safe, then it isn't finished. I will even go as far as to say that mine will be safer than any other because I will understand it's systems better than I could ever understand the systems on another plane.
If you are curious about building your own plane then check out the KitPlanes Hobby Page. I think you will find that it is not as crazy as it sounds.
Why the RV-7?
I had first decided to build an RV-6. The reason was that it seemed to be the perfect all-around airplane. It does so many things well that the only thing that I found that it did not do well was carry more than two people. I would have liked to have a four place but there just weren't any that had the performance of the RV-6 for anywhere near a price that I can afford. Besides I will probably be flying this airplane by myself most of the time. One week after I received my tail kit Van released the RV-7. I decided to convert my kit to the 7.
My family lives in the north western part of Texas and from Houston that is almost 500 miles. It takes 9 hours to make that drive which makes it impossible to drive up there for the weekend. Flying commercial can be expensive for flying up for the weekend as well. One of the things that I was looking for in an airplane was speed so that I could get up to Lubbock and see my niece and nephew just because I had nothing better to do that day. I needed an airplane that could cruise at around 200 mph. The RV-7 does this.
I also wanted an airplane that could land on a dime and takeoff from a nickel. I like the idea of being able to land and takeoff from 1000' of level ground. The RV-7 should prove to be a very good STOL (Short Take-Off and Landing) aircraft. I wanted to be able to carry 100 lbs of baggage as well because my wife and I like to SCUBA dive and this airplane should get most of our gear (minus weights and tanks of course) to the dive sites and have room left over for clothes and some snacks. Above all what I wanted out of this airplane was fun. I just like to fly, and I wanted an airplane that would be enjoyable to both build and fly. I have met a lot of people over that last few months that fly RV's and I have gotten a chance to fly one myself and an RV is nothing if it is not fun. The RV-7 is even aerobatic.
If you have ever thought about building your own airplane I highly recommend the RV series of aircraft. Take a look at them here. I am having a ball building mine and I am really looking forward to wearing out engines flying it.