Homebuilt Experimental Aircraft, I
Building your own piston engine propeller driven or even a turboprop as the Turbine Legend, EPIC LT or, if money is no object, the Viper Jet aircraft can be a very rewarding project. Don't think too lightly about such an undertaking as it will consume a reasonable amount of time and dedication and it probably will take some three years or more to complete your project.
Now that we have established what kind of aircraft we are going to talk about or even build let see what comes with the territory. For you will need to invest a lot to finish this project.
There are a number of things you need think of before you start of and buy an aircraft kit.
Why build one?
This can be for a number of reasons. Some of us really enjoy building, finish (and sometimes sell) the project and then go on to build another. For others it can be for financial reasons to build their own airplane, a new factory build Cessna (the single engine types) can cost around 250,000.-- USD (or more) and a homebuilt can be build for much less (but not all of them, though).
Another compelling reason for having your own personal airplane is that its always available for you. No need to call the Aero club for a booking and to see its late from a previous flight. Or left with no fuel, diverted to another airfield or grounded for whatever reason. A personal plane gives you the freedom to choose whenever you wish to fly and to come home when you wish to do that. But this comes at a price.
If you are renting an aircraft for more than 100 hours a year it might be financially more attractive to be the proud owner of an airplane of your choice.
Realistically: expect a couple of years. But this could be much more if you are going to built one from plans (or roughly between 1000 and 3000 hours of construction, in some cases people have been building for 10 or more years). It helps a lot to have some friends around, preferably builders themselves, to help every now and then.
But believe me, it will be worthwhile and taking off for the first time in your own airplane is something not many people will do in their lifetime. But then again, some of us lucky few will do it more than once.
Plans, slow or fastbuilt
There are three main categories of these kits: plans, slow or fastbuilt. Those that design their own airplane fall under the plans built types. This will take a lot more time than a slow or fastbuilt. It still might be the cheapest way to go. But it requires you to obtain or buy the plans (or maybe design your own) and buy all raw materials (these materials must be aviation quality) yourself.
I would prefer the slow or fastbuilt route. This way you get a complete kit (partially built in case of fastbuilt) and you can see results much sooner. Which is handy to keep your spouse happy seeing you making some progress..;-)
Two or more seats
Some manufacturers have aircraft with more than two seats. Lancair and DynAero have four seat aircraft (MCR-4S) and Murphy Aircraft with their Moose even has six. Check with your local government if an experimental or homebuilt is allowed to fly with more than four seats / people on board. Expect insurance to be somewhat higher with more seats for passengers.
Pilot license and Medical Examination
Yes. You will need a valid medical examination and pilot license (a private or LAPL license would do fine) to fly a homebuilt or LSA type of aircraft. But the fun part is that you can do all the training at a flight school and get your pilot license with your own airplane! It's cheaper too (if you forget the cost or fun factor of building) and you will only have to hire/find an instructor comfortable with the type you have just build. Building flight time and getting experience with a experimental can be done too, these are legal all flying hours.
Homebuilt aircraft have to obey to the same air law as certified models. Some countries have restrictions for those aircraft as reliability is not yet proven for certain designs. Low flying over congested area's, except for take off and landing, is one of them, as flying at night.
In other countries is it allowed to fly at VFR night and even IFR, were as others do not allow that type of flying with a homebuilt airplane. You will need to check that with your local authorities for the exact details. Australia, for example, requires that you built at least 51 % of the aircraft yourself. This could be a problem if you wish to buy an unfinished project from someone.
It is best to contact the local experimental aircraft association for your country to obtain the most current regulations on these aircraft before you invest a substantial amount of time and money.