Useful Tips

What you need to successfully build a light aircraft


Before proceeding with the solution of the question of how to build an airplane, it is necessary to answer another main question. Depending on the correct answer, you can immediately say how successful the entire project will be. The main question is what is the purpose of the whole project? What kind of aircraft and why you need to build.

Model selection

Firstly, it’s worth noting right away that building a plane, as other masters do, is not entirely realistic. The thing is that each person has an individual handwriting of piloting, because of which it is impossible to rely on the experience of others during the selection of a model. Secondly, many novice designers are eager to create after they see in the sky simply quite beautiful and elegant models. To rely solely on the appearance of an airplane is extremely bad. The main criterion for choosing a model should be the purpose of its construction and future use, and not the aesthetic component.

Choosing the right model is also important because it can only be used for the purposes for which it is intended. Let's say building an airplane as a means of air tourism is one thing. But after its completion and operation, you can find that a person is much closer to a regular picnic flight somewhere in the mountains, for example, and this will require a completely different model. All this suggests that before moving on to any practical part, it is necessary to fully consider and clearly define for what purposes the aircraft will be used.

Naturally, before moving on to construction, a few more preparatory work is necessary. It is necessary to conduct a complete analysis of the design of the future aircraft. If someone has already implemented such a design, then you should contact this master and ask about the success of the aircraft. It is also important to remember that if a model is selected in which parts and assemblies will be of an obsolete type, then it is much more difficult and expensive to purchase them and arrange delivery if necessary. Details for models that are in demand at this time will be more affordable.

Time spent

How to build a plane? Turning to the practical part of this issue, it is very important to note that this process is very long. A huge amount of time and effort will be required, and therefore it is necessary to be sure that these two components are in abundance before proceeding with the purchase of parts and other things.

Experts recommend breaking up such a laborious task, like building an airplane, into a large number of small tasks. In this case, constant progress in manufacturing will be visible. Work on each task will require much more time, and each successful completion of work will mean the approach of the main goal. If you do not break this volumetric task into small parts, then at some point it may seem that stagnation has occurred, progress has stopped. Because of this, many people also give up the idea of ​​assembling an airplane with their own hands.

If the process was correctly divided into parts, then a week will have to devote from 15 to 20 hours to complete the tasks. With such a waste of time, it will be possible to build an aircraft in an acceptable period. If you spend less time per week, then the process can drag on for a huge period of time.

Step 1. Choosing an airplane model

Perhaps the goal of the project is the main factor affecting the success of the entire event, before construction starts.

The start of an airplane project can be put on a par with the proposal of a marriage, an important deal, and even the choice of a pet. As in all previous cases, here you need to think through all the subtleties before making a final decision.

Most of those who have not reached the finish line burn out due to trifles. The grace of a Falco aircraft, aerial acrobatics on Pitts 12 and the mischievous flight on Glastar: everything can foster the interest of a future builder in making decisions based only on appearance. The simplicity of this solution can be deceiving. The essence of the correct decision is not in external attributes, but in the construction goal.

For the right decision requires a completely honest and sincere introspection. Of course, many people dream of flying like Victor Chmal or Svetlana Kapanina, but is that so or is it? Each person has his own individuality and his own style of piloting, and it is impossible to live by the experience of others. You can build a plane for air tourism and long cross-country flights, but then find that you are closer to a suburban picnic on a green lawn with friends 60 kilometers from the flying club. It is important to resolve all your doubts and sincerely think over the dream of a "home plane." After all, the main thing is to improve your life and do more with what you really like.

Once you have decided on your dream, choosing an airplane will not be difficult. After choosing an airplane model, the time will come for an examination. A quick look at the 15 year issue of Modelist magazine - The Designer will have a slightly sobering effect - perhaps because most of the aircraft models offered there are already out of fashion. The world of home cockpit builders has its own niche in the market, but even with strong motivation to do business in such a territory it will be a difficult task from the economic point of view, because the market is very individualized, and trends replace each other, like a fashion for swimwear. Before you start building, you should do some preparatory work: thoroughly analyze the design of the aircraft, ring up people who have already been involved in this project and view a list of accidents. To begin work on an obsolete project in which parts and components are difficult to get, in principle, an expensive and costly event.

Step 2. Time Planning

There are hardly any people who could cope with a project requiring the same attention, effort and time as building an airplane from scratch. This activity is not for amateurs. It requires constant and measured efforts for a long time.

In order to reduce delays along this path, and progress on the project does not stand in one place, it is possible to break all the work into many small tasks. Work on each task will not seem so difficult, and success will come gradually as each task is completed. On average, a builder will need 15 to 20 hours a week to complete a simple airplane project in a reasonable amount of time.

For enthusiastic builders, most aviation projects take two to four years to complete. On average, building an airplane can take five or even ten years. That is why experienced aircraft builders will never set an exact date for their first flight, despite the constant questioning looks of friends. As an excuse, you can say "it’s not worth it" or "as soon as it is right away."

There is no place for idealists

Not all builders recognize the importance of proper time planning. Aircraft manufacturing is not a social event, and in reality it can be damn lonely during work. Outgoing people may find this activity more difficult than you might imagine. Therefore, anyone who has dedicated himself to this cause should find pleasure in working alone.

The next aircraft, which will be built without inconsistencies in the holes, will be the first in all time. Robert Piercing, in his cult novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Care, talks about mistakes in drilling holes. These mistakes can discourage the builder from the desire to work on the project for a long time. Such errors often accompany aviation projects, and if the builder does not have personal qualities that would encourage him to cope with such difficulties, the project may be closed.

Perfectionists who strive for excellence in everything should look for another occupation. If all the planes were to perfectly comply with the laws of aerodynamics, hardly anyone would dare to take off. Perfectionism is often mistaken for a craft, but these are very different things. It doesn’t matter how good a thing is: you can always improve something, make it brighter and better. The task is not to make a better aircraft - the task is to make a practical aircraft, so that the builder would not be ashamed of him, and he was not afraid to fly on it.

Step 3. Workshop equipment

The next important point is the construction site. Not everyone can afford to have a workshop like Cessna hangars. Size, in fact, does not play a decisive role in this case.

Light aircraft are built in basements, trailers, sea containers, village sheds, and also in adobe huts. In most cases, a two-car garage is enough. A single garage can also be enough if you have a special room for storing nodes in the form of wings.

Most people believe that the best place to build an airplane is in the hangar of a city airport. In reality, hangars are less suitable for aviation projects. Most often, the hangars are much warmer in the summer and colder in the winter than on the street. They are generally poorly lit and rarely found near your home.

Regardless of where the assembly of the aircraft takes place, you should think about amenities. Investing in comfort, in some semblance of climate control, good lighting and a desk with a comfortable height, rubber mats on the concrete floor will more than pay for itself.

Here is how Martin and Claudia Sutter describe their experience in building an RV-6 in a living room: “In Texas, where temperature changes are always too strong, an air conditioning system in a hangar would cost us more than building the plane itself. We thought to work in the garage, but as it turned out, our cars could not bear the effects of the open sun for a long time. Therefore, breakfast at the bar, housing in the bedroom, and building in the living room - this is how our work was organized. Of the amenities - household air conditioning, heating and large sliding doors that allowed the aircraft to roll out. The most important thing was that everything was always at hand "

Step 4. Where can I get money for the plane?

In second place after time is the question of money. How much will it cost to build an airplane? There is no answer that is suitable for everyone: on average, such projects cost from $ 50,000 to $ 65,000, and the real cost can be either lower or significantly higher. Aircraft construction is like a phased loan repayment, it is important to correctly assess the entire amount of required resources, both financial and time, before the start of the active phase of investments.

The distribution of project costs begins with identifying the tasks that the aircraft will solve. Modern aircraft manufacturers are ready to install everything they could wish for on their products. Home aircraft manufacturers, in turn, know exactly what they want. If the plane does not fly on instruments, then there is no need to put equipment on it for flying on instruments. There is no need to fly at night - why put the landing lights for $ 1000. The constant-pitch propeller costs three times less than the constant-speed propeller, and in most cases does not lose much to the constant-speed propeller in flight economy.

The right question is where to get the money from. The rich aunt Praskovya will not leave a testament on time to finance the construction, so she will have to wait a little while traveling south or increase her income.

Van’s Air Force site owner Doug Reeves offers the first approach. His book “Ten Steps to Getting an Airplane” includes putting off buying a new car, abandoning cable television, switching to light healthy food made from fruits and vegetables, and rejecting unlimited phone tariffs in favor of cost-effective plans. In general, Doug calculated that taking and following these steps allowed him to save about $ 570 every month. He conscientiously put this amount into the piggy bank every month and now flies on the RV-6.

Bob Collins, an RV builder, chose a different road (not everyone who builds an airplane builds an RV). His work as an editor for public radio provided for him and his family, but this was not enough to buy an airplane. In general, he became "the oldest newspaper peddler." Seven days a week, from two to six in the afternoon, he distributed the local press. This occupation, combined with his usual work, family life and plans for an airplane, did not leave him much time to sleep, but in the end he became the proud owner of the RV-7A.

Step 5. Where to get your mind?

“I never riveted anything, I didn’t cook, I didn’t paint, and in general I’m not a goldsmith,” an inexperienced builder may object. Am I able to build anything as complicated as a plane?

In reality, this is not so difficult. Home-built aircraft are ordinary mechanical devices. Mechanical control units, a simple and easy to understand electrician, almost no hydraulics - everything can be studied and assembled yourself. A standard aircraft engine, for example, consists of four hoses, three cables and two wires. Well, if there is not enough knowledge, you can always draw the missing gaps for textbooks and manuals.

The aircraft engineering technique is simple and obvious. Riveting can be mastered in one day, welding will require more time, but fun and almost nothing. In everyday life, a lot of things are made of wood, the equipment and tools for wood processing are brought to perfection, and everything can be mastered via the Internet and Youtube.

If a structured presentation of material is best suited to you when learning new information, then you can take mastery lessons in aircraft construction. Similar events are held by manufacturers of whale kits and some private builders.

Comprehensive Support Needed

If the dream of flying your plane does not leave you, and enthusiasm overwhelms you to the very top, then support from like-minded pilots will help speed up the work on the project.

  • First of all, it is worth securing the support of the family. Working hours in the workshop can be long and tiring, including for the rest of your family. Spousal and family support in such cases is simply necessary. Any air projects that get across the relationship are doomed: “He spends all his time on this fucking plane. She’s nagging me about my project all the time, ”is it worth starting a project in this situation. Mitch Locke has a simple tactic:“ Before I start building a new plane, I go to my wife and ask her for a list of all the benefits that she She wants her life to get better while I spend less time on her. ” And it works: Mitch built seven aircraft on his own. At the same time, there are many projects that are carried out by family teams: parents with children, spouses. When common teamwork brings people together, assembling an airplane becomes an additional opportunity to spend time with loved ones.
  • Support outside the family circle is also important.
    When choosing a solution in favor of a particular project, it is also important to consider the service support and experience of previous builders. Is it possible to change the thickness of the ribs without compromising the safety of the structure? Can an aircraft model company answer this question? How fast will the answers come? Is there a forum of aviation builders that can help beginners?

Tips on how to speed up your project - help professionals and KIT kits

One of the reasons for the increase in the number of home aircraft builders is the appearance of KIT kits. Most aircraft in the past were built from scratch. The builders purchased a set of drawings for the aircraft of their choice (or constructed at their own risk), and then ordered materials for the manufacture of parts and assemblies.

Here are some tips for those who decide to go this route:

  • You can use virtual design programs, for example, X-Plane: Aircraft manufacturer David Rose uses this program to design his models, supplementing it with the Airplane PDQ package (total cost - $ 198). The package price is low, and the capabilities at the level of industrial systems for $ 30,000.
  • The design can be designed: To do this, you can study the book by Martin Hallman, “The Design of a Modern Aircraft” (Modern Aircraft Design) or Gorbenko K. S. “We Build Airplanes ourselves.”

If you are not ready to make a plane from scratch, then it makes sense to think about buying a KIT kit. Изготовитель КИТ — набора может предоставить точные и готовые к сборке детали самолёта при серьезной экономии ресурсов и материалов по сравнению со строительством с нуля. Сборочные инструкции, в отличие от инженерных чертежей, помогут сэкономить несчетные часы на рассуждения по поводу того, как детали сопрягаются друг с другом. Такая экономия времени приведет к тому, что в ваших силах будет собирать более сложные и высокотехнологичные самолёты. Сегодняшние КИТ наборы охватывают поразительно широкий спектр моделей, начиная от деревянных и тканевых, например Piper Cub, до композитных моделей по стоимости сравнимых с Citation.

Here is a list of KIT kit manufacturers that aircraft manufacturers may find useful:

KIT - Piper Cub PA-18 sets and its replicas

KIT - RV aircraft kits

KIT - C.C.C.P.

KIT - Ultra Pup aircraft kits

KIT - sets of CH-701 aircraft, as well as Zenith, Zodiac and Bearhawk

In order to legitimize flights on a home-built aircraft, you will have to go through the procedure for obtaining a certificate of a single copy of an aircraft (EEMS, more details here).

Perhaps construction is not for everyone. If you like to work with your hands and head, you know who to turn to for support, you have enough money to buy a pickup truck and you have a place to store it, you should be able to make your own plane. Of course, this activity is not for everyone, but those who do it consider this experience to be one of the most exciting and joyful moments in their life.

Work place

Naturally, for such work it is necessary to have a suitable place. However, it is worth noting that the size in this case is not critical.

A light single-engine aircraft, for example, can be built in a basement, trailer, sea container, etc. A great place would be a double garage. In many cases, even a single garage is enough, but this is provided that a separate place is assumed where it will be possible to store the finished components of the aircraft, such as wings and other details. When considering how to build an airplane yourself, many people think that only a city hangar is a suitable place, for example. In fact, this is far from the case. Firstly, few people live close enough to such a building. Secondly, airplane hangars are places where there is often not enough light. In summer, such buildings are much hotter than even on the street, and in winter, on the contrary, colder than on the street.

Another important comment of specialists and simply those who have already dealt with the question of how to make a flying airplane is the arrangement of the workplace. It is recommended to invest in the purchase of all the necessary things that will make the work more convenient and comfortable. You can take care of a simple climate control system, get a job that will be suitable for growth, lay rubber carpets on the floor, etc. An important role is played by high-quality full coverage of the entire workplace. All this will have to spend a certain amount of material resources, but when working on such a serious project, they will pay off with interest. In other words, we can say that everything you need should always be at hand, then construction will be much easier.

How to build a high plan. Drawings and diagrams of models

The simplest version of a motorized aircraft is a monoplane with a pulling propeller. The scheme is quite old, but time-tested. The only drawback of monoplanes is that in emergency conditions it is rather difficult to leave the cockpit, the mono wing interferes. But by design, these devices are very simple:

  • the wing is made of wood according to the two-spar design,
  • welded steel frame, some use riveted aluminum frames,
  • combined or linen sheathing,
  • closed cabin with a car door,
  • simple pyramidal chassis.

The drawing above shows a monoplane Kid with a 30-horsepower gasoline engine, take-off weight is 210 kg. The aircraft has a speed of 120 km / h and has a range with a ten-liter tank of about 200 km.

Cash costs

How much does it cost to build an airplane? Naturally, after setting a goal, deciding on an airplane model, after selecting a place and distributing time, the next question lies precisely in the financial part of the project.

It will not be possible to give an unambiguous answer to the question about the cost of an aircraft, since all models are different, which means materials, quality, and quantity are very different. We can only say that on average it spends between $ 50,000 and $ 65,000 (about 3-4 million rubles). However, the real amount can be either significantly higher or significantly lower. Building an airplane is a fairly simple phrase that requires a serious approach not only to the practical part, but also to the financial one. The easiest way will be to consider this action as a loan repayment. In other words, it is necessary to estimate the total cost of the project in advance, divide it into parts, after which it will be possible to spend the planned amount of money every month on the purchase of necessary parts, tools, etc.

Another important factor is the understanding that it is not necessary to install on the plane what is not needed for the flight. The simplest example is lights for flying at night. If such walks are not planned, then there is no point in buying lighting. That is, correctly set goals will help to save a significant amount of money. You can save on the installation of instruments, if they are not needed for the flight. The construction of aircraft requires the installation of a propeller. There are models of constant step and constant speed. The first model costs about three times less than the second, but at the same time it does not lose much to the constant-speed rotor in flight economy.

The acquisition of knowledge

DIY construction is a laborious and lengthy task, but it is not at all as difficult as it seems at first glance. Many novice masters who would like to try their strength think that they do not know how to paint, rivet and cook. In fact, to learn all these skills is quite simple, it will take only a little time.

It is important to consider the problem in this vein. A DIY home-built airplane is a mechanical device with a minimal set of electrics, as well as a complete absence of complex hydraulic parts. All this can be studied and assembled independently.

For example, what engine is on an airplane? The most standard engine for an aircraft consists of the same structural parts as a motorcycle or boat. These are the most simple and standard models that are perfect for the construction of the first home-made aircraft. The following is the practical part of the assembly. Riveting is a fairly simple process that can be learned in just one day. As for working with the welding machine, everything is also simple here, you just have to spend more time training so that the welds have good performance and are fairly even. As for any work with wood, it is used in everyday life quite often, and therefore the technique of processing it, as well as the tools for performing all the necessary operations, are not difficult to master and purchase.

Strut wing design

The drawing shows a single-engine high-plane Leningradets, built by a group of St. Petersburg aircraft models. The design of the device is also simple and unpretentious. The wing is made of pine plywood, the fuselage is welded from a steel pipe, the classic linen sheathing. Wheels for the chassis - from agricultural machinery in order to be able to fly with start from unprepared soils. The engine is based on the design of the MT8 motorcycle engine with 32 horsepower, and the take-off weight of the device is 260 kg.

The device proved to be excellent in terms of controllability and ease of maneuvering and for ten years has been successfully operated and participated in rallies and competitions.

All-Wooden Aircraft PMK3

Also, excellent flight performance was shown by the PMK3 all-wooden apparatus. The plane had a peculiar shape of the bow, a landing gear with small diameter wheels, the cockpit had a car-type door. The aircraft had a fully wooden fuselage with sheathing from the canvas and a single-winged wing made of pine plywood. The device is equipped with a water-cooled boat engine Vikhr3.

As you can see, with certain skills in the construction and design, you can not only make a working model of an airplane or a drone, but also a completely full-fledged simple aircraft with your own hands. Create and dare, successful flights!

Common Samples

One of the most common aircraft drawings is a single lightweight strut monoplane with a high wing and a pulling propeller. This model of a homemade aircraft first began to appear in 1920. Since then, the scheme, design, etc., have not changed much. The finished sample is today considered one of the most tested, reliable and structurally tested. It is because of all these advantages, as well as because of the simplicity of the drawings of the aircraft, it is almost an ideal option for DIY construction, especially by a novice master. Over the long period of operation and assembly of such aircraft, they have acquired characteristic features. They are distinguished by such design features as a wooden two-spar wing, a fuselage of an aircraft with a steel welded type, sheathing from the canvas, a pyramidal-type landing gear, a closed-type cockpit with a car door.

Further, it is worth noting that there is a small variation of this type of aircraft, which was used in the 1920-1930s. A type of aircraft was called a "parasol." This model was a high wing, which had a wing mounted on struts and struts above the fuselage of the aircraft. This kind of high-wing plan is also found in the current amateur aircraft industry. However, when compared with the standard standard model, the "parasol" is used much less frequently, since from a structural point of view it is much more difficult to make such a device, and in its aerodynamic characteristics it is inferior to a standard aircraft. In addition, in terms of operation, they are also worse, and access to the cab of such an aggregate is quite difficult, which leads to the difficult use of the emergency method of leaving the cab.

Details of simple aircraft

It is worth considering some design features of these models.

The usual high-wing with the name "Leningrad" has the following indicators.

The engine for such a light single-seat aircraft has a capacity of 50 hp, and the model is called Tsunadpp. The wing area of ​​the finished model should be equal to 9.43 m 2. Take-off weight should not exceed 380 kg. This is very important, especially when choosing a pilot seat. An empty machine typically weighs approximately 260 kg. The maximum speed that an aircraft can develop is 150 km / h, and the rate of climb near the ground is 2.6 m / s. The maximum flight duration is 8 hours.

For comparison, it is worth considering the "parasols." In this case, an analysis of the model with the name "Kid" will be presented.

The engine is installed model LK-2, whose power is 30 hp, which already makes it less powerful than the standard model. The wing area also decreases to 7.8 m 2. The take-off weight of this aircraft is only 220 kg, which includes the pilot's seat and the pilot himself, the weight of the power plant, the fuselage and other structural elements. Despite the fact that the take-off mass is significantly less than that of the Leningrader, the maximum speed is only 130 km / h.

Making aircraft models

Among the main advantages of such models, it is noteworthy that it is not difficult to operate an airplane, as experienced pilots do, as the control itself is quite simple. This is especially noticeable in cases where the specific load on the wing does not exceed 30-40 kg / m 2. In addition, high-planes are distinguished by the fact that they have excellent take-off and landing characteristics, they are stable. In addition, the cabin is designed in such a way that it creates an optimal overview of what is happening below. In other words, a more optimal model for self-construction simply can not be found.

One of the most successful models should be considered in more detail - the high-plan, which was designed by V. Frolov.

The wing for such an aircraft was made of materials such as pine and plywood, the fuselage for the aircraft was made of steel pipes, which were connected by welding. All structural elements of the aircraft were made completely covered with canvas using classical technology in the aircraft industry. The wheels for the chassis were selected quite large. This was done in order to be able to take off from unpaved and unprepared sites without any problems. As a power unit, that is, an engine, a 32-horsepower engine based on the MT-8 was used. It was equipped with elements such as a gearbox and a large diameter propeller. The take-off weight of the aircraft with this design and engine was 270 kg, flight centering 30% SAH. With all these indicators, the specific wing load was 28 kg / m 2. It has already been said that it is much easier to fly an aircraft as experienced pilots if the load does not exceed 30-40 kg / m 2. The maximum speed of the aircraft was 130 km / h, and its landing speed was 50 km / h.

Model aircraft PMK-3

In the Moscow region city of Zhukovsk, a PMK-3 aircraft was created, which now can also be assembled independently. The aircraft differed from the usual ones in that it had a peculiar structure of the nose of the fuselage, as well as a fairly low landing gear. This aircraft model was designed according to the strut wing plan with a closed cockpit. On the left side of the fuselage, an entrance was provided for the pilot. In order to achieve the necessary alignment, it was necessary to mix the left wing a little back. It is very important to remember when assembling such a model with your own hands. The general design of the aircraft is solid wood, covered with canvas. Type of wing - single-span, with pine shelves.

The base of the fuselage for this model was three spars. Because of this design, the finished fuselage had a triangular cross section. An engine with a capacity of 30 hp was chosen as the main power unit. The type of engine is an outboard motor of the Whirlwind type, which has liquid cooling. With the correct design of the aircraft, the radiator will protrude slightly from the starboard side of the fuselage.

It is worth saying a little about the fact that it is possible to build aircraft with a propeller type, but it is very important to remember that this will lose the thrust of the device, as well as the lifting force of the wing. Because of these two features, it is important to consider the advisability of installing such a propeller in each individual case, based on the goal that the master pursues when creating the aircraft. However, it would be fair to say that there were inventors who, with the self-construction of an aircraft with such a screw, creatively approaching the solution of this problem, were able to eliminate such shortcomings and operate the aircraft without them.

How to make an airplane easy? This issue has recently become increasingly relevant. In general, it is worth noting that the increase in the number of people who want to build an aircraft with their own hands is ensured by the distribution of "KIT kits". This is a kit that includes all the necessary parts for assembling the aircraft of the selected model. In this case, you still have to put your hands on the assembly, however, such a set helps to skip the stage of selecting elements, fitting to the size, etc. With such kits, the assembly of the aircraft turns into a kind of assembly of the designer.

Another advantage of the "KIT-kit" is that it will be cheaper than collecting all the elements from scratch. Today there are three ways to get your own unit for flying. The first is the purchase of an finished product, the second is the "KIT-kit", and the third is the assembly from scratch. In this case, the acquisition of a kit is an average option for the price. If we talk about complexity, it is much easier to assemble an airplane from ready-made and fitted parts than from scratch yourself.

To summarize, we can say the following. Firstly, building an airplane with your own hands at the moment is quite a real activity, but it requires a lot of time and money. If there are no welding and riveting skills, then they will also have to be mastered to successfully complete the work. In order to successfully assemble the aircraft, it is necessary to have drawings and an assembly diagram in which each stage will be graphically presented. If you don’t want to do all this, then you can buy a “KIT-kit”, which will simplify the task and reduce it to the assembly of a kind of designer.