Thanks to my dad I have been pretty handy since I was kid. If I wasn’t building my own electronics projects or working on my computer I was helping dad swing a hammer around the house and on his job sites. So the idea of building something vs buying has always been a part of my life. I always knew there was a certain segment of the pilot population that built their own planes. Most non-pilots (and even some pilots) might call these people insane. To which I reply- Yes they are, and I hope to be just as insane as these gentlemen one day.
Once I passed my checkride I began exploring magazines and websites by the EAA and other homebuilding groups. I quickly realized that building can be a fun, rewarding, and possibly, just possibly a lower cost way to own an aircraft. If you are at all interested in building a plane I strongly recommend you join the EAA. Just having access to the Sport Aviation magazine archives (login required) has more than paid for my membership. Another magazine I really like is Kitplanes. They have a great airplane finder application on their site. You tell it if you are looking for plans or kit then input your requirements, high vs low, 2 or 4 passenger etc.
Another great part of the EAA is their SportAir workshops. These are workshops designed just to teach an everyday Joe like you and I how to build. Several months ago they were up in New Hampshire so I went with a friend on a road trip and attend the ‘Whats Involved in Kit Building‘. It is a great introduction to what you are getting yourself into. While the course title says ‘kits’ it also covered plans built options. My instructor was Mark Forss, he was great and answered everyone’s questions in detail. One of the biggest things I took away was that you can basically do anything you want. For example – contrary to popular belief – there is no minimum instrument requirement for your homebuilt. So long as you can convince a FAA inspector to sign off on your plane, you could have constructed the most ridiculous thing you can dream of.
So if you have ever thought about building a plane or just want to get some more information, check out those links above. Oh and if you are thinking to yourself “I just do not have enough space in my house” then I submit to you this guy. A fellow NJ resident who built a plane in his townhouse. I will try to post as much info as I can about building and hopefully one day get started on a plane of my own.