Successfully building and flying a homebuilt aircraft can be among a pilot’s greatest accomplishments. In exchange for hours of hard work and dedication, homebuilders have access to an affordable aircraft that’s uniquely their own. According to the EAA, the total number of registered homebuilt aircraft is growing by about 1,000 each year. If you’re thinking about buying and building a homebuilt aircraft, here are four key questions to consider.
Before you even begin researching kits, it’s important to identify and define your motivation behind building an aircraft. Homebuilding is an enormous undertaking; it can take years to complete the project and many kitplanes are never even completed. Your personal reason to build an aircraft may vary. Maybe you want to build your dream aircraft, or maybe you’re motivated by the challenge of the building process itself. Identifying your motivation early on can help you stay encouraged and confident once the building process begins.
Homebuilding requires a commitment of both time and money. Luckily, kit manufacturers provide many options to help pilots build an affordable aircraft. Usually, the cost of a kit will not include an engine, propeller, avionics, interior, or paint. EAA suggests homebuilders budget “about one-third for the kit, one-third for the engine, and one-third for everything else.” Creating your financial plan well in advance can help you narrow down the right kit for your budget.
Surprisingly, you don’t need a large hangar to build an airplane. Homebuilt planes are meant to be just about anywhere, from garages to garden sheds. It is important, however, to make sure your workspace is comfortable, well lit, and safe. Investments in your comfort, like rubber mats, a durable workbench, and climate control can make all the difference in your workspace.
It’s difficult enough to build an airplane, but the project can be even more challenging without support. Experts recommend ensuring you have the support of family members before undertaking such a large project. Often, building an aircraft can be even more fun with help from family or friends. Many aircraft were built by parent/child, spousal, or sibling teams, and people find that the project can bring families even closer together. If you’re looking for support outside of your family, there are plenty of online forums and clubs for homebuilders.