Before you buy a kit aircraft…
|We're very enthusiastic about kit (experimental)
aircraft. Building and flying a kit plane can and should be a very rewarding hobby
and a great source of pride and enjoyment, and building and flying your own aircraft can
also save you a great deal of money. But before you buy any aircraft kit,
please consider and understand the following important points. We want you to be happy
with your purchase and one of the best ways to do this is to make sure your
expectations are realistic.
|First, ask yourself some basic
- How familiar and comfortable are you with
basic tools and blueprints? Do you know some of the basics about simple aircraft
systems, engines, and how they work? Have you worked on an aircraft before
(building or maintenance)?
- Do you enjoy working with your hands and
simple hand tools? Do you use common sense and have good problem-solving
skills? Do you enjoy learning and developing new skills, and do not get
discouraged with occasional frustration?
- Do you have the time and space to build an
aircraft? Will your family be supportive of your new project?
|Don't be discouraged if you've answered No to
some of the above questions, but be realistic with your capabilities and
|We believe that nearly everyone can build their own
aircraft ...if they have the desire and realistic expectations. Our experience
in the kit industry has proven this time after time. The quality of the
and the accompanying drawings and manuals can make this a project that you'll successfully
finish and fly, and be proud to own for many years. But we have a lot of experience with first-time builders,
and we want you to have an honest appreciation that it takes time and effort to
successfully build your own aircraft.
you are the builder (manufacturer) of the airplane.
|As the builder of a kit
airplane, you are the
manufacturer of your aircraft, and as such, assume full
responsibility for its construction. An amateur-built aircraft, by its very definition,
"experimental" and has not been approved by the Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) like a certified production aircraft has. While a
specific kit design may have a great track record with hundreds of
successfully flying aircraft, don't think of a kit aircraft as a certified production
plane. The aircraft, as built and equipped by you, becomes a unique
"one-of-a-kind" aircraft in its design and construction. While others may inspect your aircraft, you are
ultimately responsible for assuring that your aircraft and its systems have been constructed
and assembled properly and
that it is airworthy.
|Recipes for frustration (if not
- Putting a deadline on the time to complete:
Schedules are made to be broken, which just cause frustration when they are
broken. Most builders have a family and/or career that often takes
priority over a kit project.
- Modifying the design and construction: As the
builder of your aircraft, you have the opportunity to modify or customize
your aircraft. However, do so only with the full understanding
of what you are doing. Most modifications are a lot more work than
builders originally anticipate, and may have unforeseen affects on the
performance, characteristics and/or structural integrity of the design.
- Installing a custom
powerplant. Most custom engine installations require a lot
of work and "troubleshooting" to properly install, and
often don't provide the expected performance and reliability.
- Getting advice from others.
Many onlookers are so-called experts in how an aircraft should
be designed and built (and flown), and will probably offer you
all kinds of "expert" advice on what you should be
doing differently. Qualify this advice, and have
confidence in yourself and the design.
- Building your airplane on too-tight of a
budget - We all want to cut costs, but don't
- Also, prioritize costs and put them in context
(an inexpensive engine may cost you less to purchase initially, but may not
provide the reliability and performance you expect, and may need to be
replaced a lot sooner than expected).
- Building your own aircraft is
probably going to be one of the most challenging and rewarding
undertakings you'll ever accomplish. But, occasional
frustrations are part of overcoming any challenge: Don't become
discouraged with the first frustration you encounter.
- Not being current - remember to keep current while you're building and
don't flight test your aircraft unless you're current and have developed a
proper flight test program.
- Not taking the time to maintain your aircraft and assuring that the
systems are all functioning properly.
- Showing off / trying to impress others:
Show off the aircraft on the ground and leave the airshows to
- Not being properly prepared:
Prior to the flight test, make sure that both you and the
airplane are ready. We highly recommend the use of EAA's
Technical and Flight Advisor programs.
- Just because
the aircraft is capable of off-airport STOL (short take-off and
landing) flying does not mean that you (the pilot) are.
more about the project before buying, we recommend:
- Factory Workshop: Attend a factory
workshop or order a "starter kit" to learn more about
the type of construction, tools, reading the drawings and manuals,
etc. A factory workshop also gives you the opportunity to visit
the factory (and see what the full kit looks like), meet the staff,
and go up for a demo flight in the aircraft
- Demo Flight: Go up for a flight in
the aircraft to experience first-hand the flight qualities and
characteristics of the aircraft, cabin comfort, visibility, etc...
- Talk to other first-time builders who
have "been there and done that."
|I hope you find these thoughts and
recommendations to be helpful. We look forward to working with you.... We believe we
sell great products, but we want to make sure that you have realistic expectations
so that you will enjoy both building and flying your aircraft.
||Sebastien Heintz, president,
Zenith Aircraft Company