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Can I Really Build an Airplane from a Kit?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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It is indeed possible to build an airplane from a kit, and in fact a number of companies would be delighted to supply you with the kit and tools you need to do so. The resulting plane is generally considered to be a sport aircraft or sportsplane, reflecting the fact that it is used primarily for recreation, not for transport of passengers. Before you build an airplane from a kit, you may want to check on regional regulations about using such aircraft; some regions require a pilot's license or another form of certification to ensure that flying stays safe as well as pleasurable.

Kit airplanes have been sold since the 1940s, and it is also possible to build an aircraft from scratch, fabricating parts as needed and ordering specialty supplies. The advantage to building a kit airplane is that the kit arrives with all of the necessary parts, and sometimes the tools as well, and the aircraft has been tested, ensuring that it is safe to fly.

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It helps to have experience when you build an airplane from a kit, both with flying and with assembling machines in general, as it can take some finickiness to get the airplane completed and safe to fly. While most kits come with extensive instructions and all the needed supplies, for people who have never engaged in major construction projects, it can get a bit confusing. It is also important to have a clear, clean workspace such as a garage, to ensure that no parts are lost and to keep the components of the aircraft in good working order as they are installed.

Homebuilt aircraft are, as a general rule, classified as experimental, and therefore they are subject to different regulations than regular aircraft. Being aware of these regulations when you build an airplane from a kit can help to avoid an awkward interaction with the long arm (or wing) of the law. Kit aircraft are also subject to noise ordinances and other rules in regional municipal codes, and researching these is also a very good thing to do before you build an airplane from a kit.

Many areas have associations of kit aircraft enthusiasts who love to take people up in their aircraft and talk about them. These groups can be good resources of information about learning how to build, handle, and maintain kit aircraft, and they may also have tips on good manufacturers to turn to for kits. Try searching for “kit,” “homebuilt,” or “experimental” aircraft and your region for a listing of such groups.

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Discuss this Article

Drentel
Post 4

If you want to build an airplane from a kit then you need to have some serious mechanical experience. The article says this very thing. My concern is that people will buy these kits and think they can assemble the plane like a model airplane. I read recently that more than 200 home built planes crash each year in the U.S., so you really need to know what you are doing.

Feryll
Post 2

@mobilian33 - I thought the same way as you about planes built from kits by people who don't build planes professionally being a bad idea. Then I was at the gym one day, and I was talking to the gentleman who worked behind the front desk. He was retired and worked part time at the gym.

Anyway, he told me he and his son built airplanes from the kits. I asked him whether he was more concerned about flying the ones they built instead of flying ones built in a factory. He said it was exactly the opposite because when he built the plane he knew the plane was put together the right way, and he could check and double check every piece.

mobilian33
Post 1

My sister told me that her husband said people build airplanes from kits. I didn't believe it because he is always getting the wrong end of the conversation and confusing things. I thought he was mistaking those remote controlled toy planes for the real planes people fly in.

I would be afraid to fly in a plane that was put together in someone's garage like a kid's model airplane. I can't believe the government lets people fly them. Seems to me the planes would be dangerous for the pilots flying them and the people on the ground below.

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