Kit Build/Experimental For Less Than $50K

Discussion in 'Home Builders and Sport Pilots' started by easik, Aug 17, 2018.

  1. easik

    easik Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Someone asked the other day on the current state of GA and my answer was "cost". LSA and Experimental are supposed to be low entry level for flying. Yet just about every LSA I've covered are selling north of $200K fully loaded.

    So I'll like to make a list of experimental aircraft you can build for less than $50,000. Finished, not just the cost of the kit. If you know of any, please share. Thanks.

    Sonex
    Merlin PSA
    Saberwing
    Zenith CH650... may be?
    Kitfox... may be?
     
  2. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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  3. bflynn

    bflynn En-Route

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    Zeniths Ch-650/750/super stol can come in right around 50k, but you have to pay close attention to the engine and instrument costs.

    The problem usually is that people want to buy a 25k engine, then put a 15k panel on top of it and there are practically no kits for $10,000

    Plans built, you can come in under 50k on a lot of things.
     
  4. X3 Skier

    X3 Skier En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Right now, my panel is planned to be two iPad mini’s, a Wing Bug and ForeFlight with the Scout ADS-B in. And a couple of stream gages for engine, fuel, misc. As simple a radio as possible. El Cheapo but effective. Will see what’s available in a year or two when it’s time.

    I’m partial to Zenith and Sonex and have a Onex underway.

    I would guess a BD-4 could make the $50k cut if one finds a good used engine and doesn’t go nuts with the panel.

    Cheers
     
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  5. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Why build when you can buy?
    Saving money is a lousy reason to build an airplane - you can often buy an already flying aircraft for much less than the cost to build.

    My ride (Merlin GT with a few hundred hours on it) cost me $20K - It wasn't a beauty queen, but I would have had to pay more than that for just a new Rotax 912.

    As far as LSA's are concerned - there are lots of them available in the $20k-$40k range. They just aren't new.
     
  6. Bill Jennings

    Bill Jennings Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Lots of great older certified planes out there for $50k or less. LOTS!
     
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  7. easik

    easik Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Well building is a way to have a relatively modern aircraft without the heavy price tag. Isn't the Merlin GT a kit as well?
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2018
  8. easik

    easik Pre-takeoff checklist

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    You ain't lying. I mean there are cheaper alternatives for your engine. Auto conversions like Viking. Although I'm personally skeptical about using any type of car engine for flying.
     
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  9. LoLPilot

    LoLPilot Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yeah I'd shy away from an automotive engine for flying.
     
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  10. zaitcev

    zaitcev En-Route

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    I think it should be possible to get RANS S-6 under $50k if you're frugal, although maybe not with the Rotax 912.

    You didn't specify what constitutes an airplane for you. Aerolite 103 is something like $16k all together with a basic engine (Hirth F33 IIRC). It's $20k factory completed.
     
  11. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man Pattern Altitude

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    I know people who built RV4’s for less than 50k
     
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  12. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    Didn't you fly a Sling LSA? There's a factory built brand new one listed on Barnstormers right now for $155k


    I assume you're talking new. I learned to fly when I was in my early 30's and the plane I learned to fly in was older than I was. I've done quite a bit of flying since then both personally and professionally and 90% has been in planes that were older than me. Some of them much older. And most of them were great. There ain't a glass panel on the planet that can match the grin on your face the first time you push the throttle up on a '42 Stearman. The point is they all fly just fine regardless of what's in the panel.

    But lets forget that. If you want modern glass panel avionics, so be it. There are plenty of used LSA's available right now for way less than $200k. Skycatchers have glass panels and have asking prices starting around $45k. There are used RV12's listed on trade a plane right now with asking prices around $60K. These are airplanes with less than 300 hours on the meter. And since LSA's don't go very fast, less than 300 hours means they've probably only been in the air a couple dozen times max. Just barely broken in really. ;)
     
  13. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I thought the same till one of the former members here built this beast with a ford V8



     
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  14. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man Pattern Altitude

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    I thought an awful lot about buying a new SLSA Bushcat and getting my LSA instructors rating to write it off on my taxes. It’s about the cheapest SLSA to buy and own at under 80k new.
     
  15. Warmi

    Warmi Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yeah, the bushcat sounds like a good option for low and slow flying. Aeroprakt and Aerotrek are other options but none of them is as cheap as Bush cats.
     
  16. wayne

    wayne Cleared for Takeoff

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    There are several Piper 140's on Controller for under $30k. No assembly required. :D
     
  17. kyleb

    kyleb En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I know someone who built an RV-6 for $43k, including tools, paint, and a freshly rebuilt engine. I think that's repeatable today if you're a willing scrounger.

    But you're not gonna have a fancy panel at that price.
     
  18. Stan Cooper

    Stan Cooper Line Up and Wait

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    I paid $49k for my 2008 AMD CH601XLi-B SLSA with less than 100 hours TTAF&E. The seller was an 85 year old retired ATP who was in poor health and decided he didn't trust himself to fly anymore. It was a great bargain. I had a DAR change the certification to Experimental operating light sport and took the 16 hour class to get my light sport repairman certificate - inspection so I can perform my own annual condition inspections.
     
  19. Jim Logajan

    Jim Logajan En-Route

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    The U.S. distributer for the Savannah S advertises a complete kit with basic instruments and Rotax 912 engine for under $50k with a claimed build time of 350 hours (kit #3 under kit packages.) Link:
    http://fly-buylsa.com/Savannah.html

    The guy in the video below seems to say the builder had problems with the Rotax engines (sounds like two new ones were tried) in this Savannah and gave up and put in a Viking:
     
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  20. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    I don’t think there’s a kit that will come in complete at the OPs price point. By the time you have stuff like instruments and paint, you’ll have blown through it. I don’t think too many people build a kit airplane to get off that cheap, especially because these things can be bought for the kit price. Might be able to do it for a Sonex if you assemble the engine and do paint yourself.

    I suspect if one really has to hit that price point one is scratch building. Even then I bet one has to be careful, especially if using an aircraft engine.
     
  21. slacktide

    slacktide Line Up and Wait

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    At that end of the price range the engine (assuming new) will be a large driver in the toal build cost. I’d pick something that can be powered by a VW conversion, which can be had new for $7K. A Sonerai maybe?

    [​IMG]
     
  22. kyleb

    kyleb En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Drake the Outlaw
    There are a number of mid-time O-320's on Barnstormers for <$10k. Get one of those, buy a second hand RV-6 kit for $15k, add an inexpensive wood prop, a couple of thousand bucks of firewall forward stuff, and you're at $30k. Spend $3k for tools, $10k for your panel, and either paint it yourself or have a local auto body shop paint it for you in pieces. Done. $50K.
     
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  23. asicer

    asicer En-Route

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    Evans Volksplane?
    Bowers FlyBaby?

    Those go squarely against your notion of "modern", though. ;)
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  24. FormerHangie

    FormerHangie En-Route

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    Thatcher CX-4 and CX-5.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    RANS Chaos with a Rotax 582:

    [​IMG]

    If you're asking about a new airplane with a new engine, it's probably going to have to be one with either a VW conversion or a Rotax 582, the price of a new four stroke aero engine will probably bust your budget.

    If you want to fly weight shift, there are a number of light sport trikes equipped with a 582 that can be had complete for less than $50,000. Here's a North Wing Apache:

    [​IMG]
     
  25. easik

    easik Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Right, I meant brand new or fairly used. The used modern LSA selling are still a tad bit above $50k. I flew a Sling 4. Sling 2 is the LSA version.
     
  26. easik

    easik Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I saw the BushCat for the first time @ Oshkosh. That is a pretty STOL airplane.

    But you can also build a Kitfox for same price or less.
     
  27. easik

    easik Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I was looking at the Zenith ch601 myself. You can find them used now for much less than $49k. Although I was spooked when I read some of the accident reports of the wings breaking off in midair. What's your take on that? and what has been your experience with the aircraft so far?
     
  28. Stan Cooper

    Stan Cooper Line Up and Wait

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    The CH601XL is probably the most thoroughly vetted LSA design out there thanks to the rash of mid-air breakups. The structural modifications announced after a thorough design review by the FAA, Zenith, the European agencies, and a number of consulting engineering firms have resulted in an airframe with an enviable safety record in those airplanes with the mods (designated CH601XL-B) in the eight years since 2010.

    Mine is a low time factory built airplane with a certified TCM O-200-A engine and is equipped for IFR (AMD CH601XLi-B). It greatly exceeds my expectations and is worth the $49k I paid for it IMHO.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  29. Hank S

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    These nice folks have a whole slough of mostly WWI reproductions ranging from ~$8000-$15,000 kit prices. A few less "airplane"-like models have kit prices as low as $4000 . . . . And they look like a blast to fly. My wife, though, says no single place plane, forcing me into the $15K kits, so I'm holding out for now.

    http://www.airdromeaeroplanes.com
     
  30. Warmi

    Warmi Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yeah, they key word being “build” ... That’s many hundreds of hours and countless frustrations ...
     
  31. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

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    A very valid point, a new 0-360 with no core will run near the top of the budget .

    You can always buy cheaper than you can build.
     
  32. unsafervguy

    unsafervguy Cleared for Takeoff

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    Vans discount price for builders for an O360-A1A 27,500

    That doesn't leave a lot for the rest. but with a good used engine,wood prop, vfr panel, and a slow build kit you can still do an rv for less than 50k with some scrounging.
     
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  33. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

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    Is that a certified engine? or a after market parts built no data tag engine?
    I've never priced one out, but I do know you can buy all the parts from Superior to build one.
     
  34. unsafervguy

    unsafervguy Cleared for Takeoff

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  35. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

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    I though there would be a gimmick.

    An OEM agreement with Lycoming allows Van's Aircraft to sell to RV builder's factory new experimental engines at prices far below list. This agreement specifies that engines may be sold only to those who have purchased a complete RV kit. The engine must be installed in that aircraft. Only one engine may be sold per RV kit.
     
  36. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

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    technically that is not a A1A,
     
  37. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    This is very true. But the cost to buy is only one of the costs involved in aircraft ownership. Cost to own is a much better metric to pay attention to. And when it comes to cost to own, building wins every time with buying experimental coming in second and buying certified factory built a distant third.
     
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  38. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

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    We were talking E/AB how did the certified get into the matrix ? apples and oranges.
     
  39. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    It was from me reading your often repeated comment of its cheaper to buy than build and (incorrectly) assuming it was meant in the context you often hear it used for. My mistake. Disregard.
     
  40. unsafervguy

    unsafervguy Cleared for Takeoff

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    your right its a XO-360-A1A