Q. What tools do you need to build a plane?
A. It depends on the type of plane. For the Zenair range of aircraft, which are made from aluminium, we use drills, clecos, clamps, files, T-square, ruler, measuring tape, rivet guns, snips, edge marker, etc. Here is a selection from Patricia’s tool box! Metal Seagulls (who sell the Zenair kits in the UK) also offer a full tools package – making building a plane even easier than ever before!
Q. Are there lots of bits to put together?
A. THOUSANDS – but most of those are rivets… in all honesty, there are not really that many parts to build an aeroplane. You work on a section at a time, and in the case of the Zenair CH750 most of the bits are already cut and drilled to the right size, just needing checked, trial fitted and then prepared for riveting. Some parts need a bit of work on to fit – but that is part of skill building. The nuts and bolts for one Zenair aircraft kit fit in TWO plastic boxes – which come from the factory laid out like this:
Plus a couple of boxes of rivets.
It sounds like a lot, but you just work on one section at a time, such as the rudder, elevator, rear fuselage, forward fuselage, wing, etc – and then join them together to make the plane! It take a several hundred hours of work – and can be done just a few hours a week over a couple of years….
Q. Is it fun to build a plane?
A. YES! It seems that most people who have built one plane would like to build another one! If it was not fun, that would not be the case! Patricia has built several planes -a and is already talking about the next plane she wants to build after the WXYZ Plane…
Q. Can anybody build their own aircraft?
A. People from all walks of life and all ages have built their own aircraft. There are two organisations that oversee the building of such aircraft in the UK – the LAA and the BMAA – depending on the aircraft type being built.
Q. Is it expensive?/How much does it cost to build my own plane?
A. It is not cheap, but it is no more expensive than buying a new car… There are lots of different kits on the market, but if you wanted to build a plane the same as the WXYZ Plane which is a Zenair CH750 STOL Aircraft:- the airframe kit costs less than £20,000 (excluding VAT). Then an engine, instruments, paint and few other bits are needed – but there are lots of options, and the total cost can be around £35,000.
Q. Do I need a pilots licence to fly a plane? / What sort of pilots licence do I need to fly a plane? / What does it cost to learn to fly?
A. Yes you need a licence to fly an airplane in the UK. There are lots of different licences that allow you to fly different sized of aircraft and for different things. (think about driving, we have motorcycle licence, car, bus, trailer, HGV, etc – and it is the same for airplanes). In the UK we have some ‘lower cost’ entry licences and there is also the European lower cost entry licence (called a LAPL – Light Aircraft Pilot Licence) too. We suggest you take a visit to a couple of airfields (remember smaller airfields also often have flying schools) and chat to some flying schools. Take a trial lesson, which is normally about £100, and see if you like it first before committing to a course. Some licences can be achieved for less than £5,000… You are best to visit an airfield and talk to a real flying instructor rather than trawl the web for information that might be out of date… and you get to see the planes too…