It starts with this kit:
This is a record of my journey to build a Sonex Onex aircraft from plans and a kit. Many people not familiar with aviation don’t realize that not all aircraft are built in factories. According to the EAA, there are over 33,000 licensed amateur-build aircraft licensed by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). They represent well proven designed that have been flying safely for decades.
Many different types of people build and fly their own airplane for a variety of reasons: performance, economics, personal challenge, education, etc.
The Experimental Aircraft Association is a non-profit organization that began as a flying club. Today, the organization supports both general aviation and experimental builders, through educations, scholarships, and much more to help ensure that all amateur-built aircraft are well-constructed safe aircraft. I am a member of EAA Chapter 309, which has numerous aircraft builds in progress, and also holds regular Young Eagles Rallies.
To qualify for an amateur-built certificate, the Federal Aviation Administration requires that the “major portion” (>= 51%) of tasks required to build the airplane be completed by the builder. The EAA describes this rigorous and regulated process here.
My Reasons for Building
As part of becoming a licensed pilot, you learn a lot about how planes work. As an aircraft owner, the more you know about aircraft maintenance the better and safer pilot you become. What better way to learn about how planes operate and how to maintain them than to build one? Long term my goal is to become a licensed Light Sport Repairman (allowing me to perform heavy maintenance on factory-built Light Sport Aircraft or LSA), and then follow that up by becoming a licensed A&P (Airframe and Powerplant repairman) that can maintain larger aircraft.
Why a Onex?
Sonex Aircraft has been around for decades. The Onex is a smaller (85% scale) one seat version of the popular Sonex, with easily folding wings. I have a small hangar and space is a premium. A Onex can fit in behind my Searey (a small amphibian plane). It is simpler to build than many kits, qualifies as an LSA, has quite a respectable cruise speed (155 MPH) with economic fuel flow, and is even capable of light acrobatics. It seemed like a good and fun entry point for me for building a first plane.