Where to build

Once the decision has been made that you want to build an airplane, the next thing you should think about (besides cost) is where you will build it.  I see lots of people that somehow are able to get T-hangers for cheap or have a great workshop where they are building their plane.  Being just outside of DC, I have limited options available to me.  Hangers are EXPENSIVE and almost impossible to get as we have so few airfields.

That leaves me with my 2 car Garage.  I’ve heard stories about a gentlemen in NY who basically build an RV in his apartment.  I completely understand the maxim of “if there is a will, there is a way” but I also want the process to be enjoyable.  From a practical perspective, I’m hoping my garage has the potential to work as my shop until I’m ready to move things to a hanger.  (Just got an e-mail that VKX got an approved zoning for 30+ new hangers so I’m hoping those get built before I finish my RV)

The good news is I found that Brian & Brandi built their RV in a converted carport.  It’s slightly bigger than my garage, but makes me think this is doable.  I’ll get some pictures of my garage later but for now here are the details.

Garage Door – 94″ wide by 90″ high.  (Possibly higher if I release the door from the opener)
Easily usable space – Approx 13′ by 15′ by 8′ high.
Storage space – above Garage Doors.

The room is physically bigger, but have items in the garage that can’t easily be relocated.  (Motorcycle, Compressor, Fridge, etc).   I’m also worried about heat / cold as my garage isn’t conditioned space.  Do I just get a small space heater / portable AC, install a mini-split system, or just suck it up?  Overall having the workshop at the house means more opportunities to work on things, but also more opportunities for distraction.

Tools:  So I have some general idea of what tools are needed, but not sure the best way to procure them.  Just buy a set from http://planetools.com/ (I’m convinced I need a DRDT-2 dimpler by Jason Ellis), or should I go the e-bay route?  Luckily I already have a large compressor and some air-tools, but don’t have a drill-press, scroll saw, or bench grinder.

End of the day, I’m expecting to drop a sizeable chuck of cash to order the Empennage kit, Tools, and other misc supplies needed to get started.  I also need to get my loving family on-board as my wife still isn’t convinced that this is a great idea.  Hopefully once I get my PPL license and take her up a few times she may change her mind.

Getting Started – What is the mission

As I begin my journey of aircraft ownership, I am both excited and scared.  Can I actually do this?  What happens if I mess something up?  How much is this actually going to cost me?

After spending a ton of time doing research on what options are currently available (purchase a used plane, renting, partnerships, building an experimental), I am getting to the point where I think I know what makes the most sense for me.

Buy:  Buying a plane outright is just not an option financially.  Too much uncertainty on maintenance and history.  I love reading This Old Cherokee and wish I could do the same.  Granted it looks like he has some A&P friends that are supervising his repairs and I just don’t have those resources available to me.  Finding and fixing up a certified airplane just doesn’t seem to be in the cards for me.

Renting:  it’s what I’m currently doing as I get my PPL.  Sure it works for $100 hamburgers and local trips, but not sure if this really allows for longer XC trips.  Too expensive (daily minimums for more than local flying) or difficult to reserve in advance (take the plane to Florida for the week over Spring Break / holidays?)

Partnership: This seem like a great option, but would need to find the right situation / right plane to make this work.  Sharing costs seems like an awesome idea, but also worry about the whole scheduling thing.  Will I be able to get the plane when I need it?  How do you find a partnership where the other partners don’t really fly the plane so there are no conflicts? 🙂

Build:  That leaves building my own plane.  It has a number of positives already going for it.  Lower cost to buy into a new plane (not counting my time).  Ability to customize it to meet my needs and the ability as the builder to do maintenance on it should the need arise.  This doesn’t remove the need to have an A&P work on the engine as I’m not an engine mechanic, but it does allow me to put in Avionics that don’t have the cost associated with certified equipment.

This has led me to research what experimental airplanes would meet my needs / mission.  Basically need a 4 passenger (two adults and two kids) that can go up and down the east coast.   This lead me to two specific planes.  First the Raptor caught my attention.  Fancy looking plane with crazy specs (230 KTAS Cruise, 1800 lbs Usefull Load, 29,000 Ceiling, pressurized, retractable gear), but since the plane doesn’t even exist yet and the requirement to put down a deposit for a plane you will get years from now, I decided to look elsewhere.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m very much enjoying the constant updates on their progress and wish them the best of luck.  Heck, once they have them flying I would LOVE to take one for a spin!

For me, I’m excited to build an RV-10.  There are lots of others that have completed the RV-10 and a great community to support other builders.   I have been consuming a number of blogs and will continue to do so until I’m able to put in my empannage order.  From a build-log perspective, I have to say I’m most impressed with Brian & Brandi’s RV-10 site.  Hopefully they won’t mind if I emmulate how they organized things as I think they have a fantastic site with great information.

I’m also following Jason Ellis.  He has been doing a great series of YouTube videos documenting his build and providing information / entertainment along the way.  Not sure if I have the on-screen personality to follow in his shoes, but may do an overall time-lapse of the project for my personal records.  We’ll see.

Basically my goal is to document this project, provide others with information I wish I had before I started, and learn a bunch of new things.

Welcome aboard!