I started thinking about building my own airplane back in late 2008/early 2009. I was part of a flying club that has decent planes to fly, but not really well suited for longer trips that I wanted to take. I started thinking of what I could do to address that issue. In looking over airplane classifieds, it seemed like the only airplanes I could afford were old, with outdated avionics. Everything newer had a very steep purchase price that just seemed way out of my reach. I quickly latched onto the idea of building one myself. I’m an Electrical Engineer by trade, and really love understanding all the intricacies of how things work and are built. I have a reasonable skill level mechanically (doing various home-improvement projects over the years), so I really was convinced that I had what it takes to make a project of such magnitude a success. I really wanted to have a 4 seat airplane, so my choices were somewhat limited. I quickly narrowed in on the Van’s RV-10 for several reasons.
- It is largely an aluminum airframe (minus the cabin top/doors and cowling). An entirely carbon airframe with no fiberglass experience seemed rather daunting.
- Relatively fast (160-170kt true airspeed) on somewhere between 9-14 gallons per hour. Dependent on how you run the engine.
- The large support system. There is a massive community, not to mention support from Vans themselves, when it comes to support during my build. Rest assured that if I ever were to hit a roadblock or have a question, there would be plenty of answers out there.
I did tons of research, and even started taking steps to better insulate my garage and make an attempt to provide heat out there to be able to work during the freezing cold winter months.
During my research, I found there to be many benefits to building your own airplane.
- Performing your own maintenance. This alone will save lots of money over the ownership of the plane. Not having to pay for overpriced mechanics that seem to only do an okay job.
- Brand new airframe with state-of-the-art avionics systems for a fraction of the cost of something comparable in the used market.
- Spreading the money over a period of time, such that one could accomplish the build debt-free.
Around that same time, a fellow club member approached me to see about my interest in buying into a plane that he already owned with some other partners that wanted to sell. Discussions ensued for several months in search of other partners. Eventually, we found enough to make it viable for everyone, and we purchased into his 1986 Socata Trinidad TB21.
That quelled any thoughts of building my own plane… at least for now….