Hello everyone,
Im a new builder (have purchased and am waiting for the rudder kit for the 650) and just wanted to see other peoples thought process, for themselves and for my personal situation as im finding my thinking about this whole thing was off.
This will be the first airplane i own (rent from the fbo currently). Originally I was looking at a Cessna 150 for around 35 to 40k, but as a former A.S.E tech. And welder the idea of building my own experimental was mouth watering to say the least, especially since i currently have all the time in the world to work on it (no wife, kids etc).
The issue lies in my idea, after doing what i thought was enough research, i built a big enough work table, ordered the rudder kit, and now i wait for it to ship (pricing for the rudder kit made the impulse a nonfactor) . After a day or so i called zenith to ask a few questions because i saw lead times of 4-8weeks on the website (my rudder kit delivery would line up with a build class so i would wait) but apparently the rudder kit would be ready ship in a day or 2 so thats great news.
So my thinking was,
Buy rudder, build rudder, buy tail section, build, etc. So i can focus on what i have and not really get too overwhelmed or mixed up.
Then lead times attacked my idea.
From what ive been told, lead times are currently 10+ months for any large kit (fuselage, wings etc) which is a great problem, means they are popular and have great business. But that would mean if i got the tail, built it, then ordered the next piece it would be another year before i got that, so it would be better to order the whole kit and get it all at once. Vs stretching the build into the multiple of years due to wait times between sections.
Due to that im leaning toward the c150, but that has its own pros and cons compared to a brand new airframe engine etc. For instance depending on tsmoh, you basically pay for the plane twice...

What would you do with 35k in hand?
Also for those that built, how long did it take w/lead times, full kit? Or component kit build? What was your process.
I want this plane, but i also want to stop renting.
Thanks for any advice

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I'd get the entire kit, but what I would do really isn't the point. You have to do what best suits your own desires and needs. You've already concluded a kit plane would best suit your needs, so this isn't really an airplane choice. Your dilemma is deciding whether or not it's worth the wait, and that's a decision only you can make. How long have you waited to own your own airplane, and how much difference will it make if you have to wait a little longer to get what you really want? What we'd do isn't really applicable to you. Just think a few years down the road. Do you think you'd be happy you chose a 150 to get a plane sooner, or would you be kicking yourself for not getting what you wanted? What decision would be easiest for you to live with long term? It would be great to get insight from others as to what to do, but only you can answer those questions. And when you think about it, that's the way it should be. The significant long term consequences of your decisions shouldn't be a result of what someone else said.

Wow, what a wise and sincere reply, thank you. Im only being impatient. In the long run impatience always bites you. So full kit will be what im leaning toward, going to finish my rudder and go from there if everything feels the same afterward. 

    Thanks again 

That is exactly what I did: buy the component kits one at a time, and purchase the next one when able. 

Rudder first, then the rest of the tail section.  Then the wings.  Then the fuselage.  Avionics absolutely last. 

Note that you will pay more for shipping doing it that way.  As I recall, at the end of the day one of my top 10 costs on my airplane was "shipping".  The least expensive route would be to buy the airframe all at once - if you can...

Also consider lead times on your engine.  Depending on which way you go, lead times can be anywhere from days to multiple years.  If you want to go with an engine having lead times measured in "years" it doesn't necessarily have to slow your build down - just know that going into it and start on the engine earlier.  I started on my first engine at the same time as I started on the rudder, so delays - while frustrating - didn't slow me down when it was all said and done.

One more bit of advice: Envision how old you're going to be when you finish your project.  Then give thought to having the airplane that you're going to want at that time (versus the airplane that you want today).

- Pat

That last part never crossed my mind, im gonna slow way down here, i probably wont change my mind in the near future but 5 years from now who knows. Ill probably go ahead and get the tail section for now since ive already got the rudder and let it stew in the meantime, enjoy the project for what it is, and see what happens. I may just get a used 0200 and rebuild it in the meantime as well. Its looking like the "zen" approach is my best bet. Its a beautiful plane, and i dont see anything out there that beats the price/enjoyability and looks factor imo. 

     If it takes years it takes years, 

           Thanks for your thinking help



From your description, it sounds like you will enjoy building a plane. I think you said you can rent a plane during the build, so you're still able to fly. I sold my last project (Glasair) after 7 years of no flying, and bought a flying 601xlb. It's a great airplane. I like that I can work on it, and the only thing I can't do is sign the Condition Inspection. I'm currently doing the inspection, and our resident A&P will sign it off.

The first plane that I built is currently just north of your Class B airspace. The 4th owner contacted me with some questions about the build, and now we stay in touch. Seeing his YouTube videos really brought back some fond memories of building it.

Building is a lot of fun. Just work out planning, so you're not waiting too long for something to be delivered.

That makes alot of sense, and it feels cool to know there are builders that close, small world. Im definitely finishing the rudder whenever it gets here, and possibly ordering the tail section and wings since im looking at next year to recieve anything. You all have convinced me to just swallow that lead time pill for the build and rent cessnas in the mean time. Ill even add some temporary l.e.d lighting to the rudder, and use it as a cool lamp/conversation piece in my living room for the time being. 

   Definitely going to make a new post when i do


If you really want to build as much as fly and if you have 35K in-hand, there's another alternative not mentioned.  See if you can find a partially-completed kit.  Sometimes, if you're lucky, you can find someone who purchased the entire airframe kit (or at least a substantial portion of it in sub-kits) and then got started and abandoned the build due to changes in life circumstances.  Typically, partially-completed kits sell at a discount to the cost of the kit itself. Also, original shipping expenses are not reflected in the price - a loss for the seller and a bonus for the buyer - and it's not uncommon for the tools unique to aircraft construction to be thrown-in for free, too.  Another loss for the seller is that their labor is free - they typically get nothing for the hours they've put in.

If you're lucky enough to find one, then your wait time for a kit has evaporated and you're already ahead in build progress - a huge plus.  Of course, there's 4 major negatives: finding such a kit for sale, assessing if all the parts are there and undamaged, having to evaluate the quality of the construction by the previous builder, and transporting/shipping the kit components.

One other big plus is that Zenith cheerfully transfers plans and kit registration from one owner to another and will support you same as the original purchaser.  They still benefit in the long run as you'll likely purchase more items from them and every completed kit is just more free advertising for Zenith.

I'd likely plug away on the rudder for now to make sure you understand and enjoy the build process and search our "Classified/For Sale" Forum for a partial kit.  Also, place an ad in the Classified/For Sale Forum that you're "Looking For" or "Want to Buy" a partially completed project.  I believe they pop up on Barnstormers occasionally, too.  Having cash on-hand is an advantage since you could act quickly if a bargain comes along - they sell quickly!  I would try to make any deal contingent on a satisfactory inspection at time of sale - hopefully you could find a member with Zenith construction experience to go with you to look at the quality.

Good luck!



BTW, shortly after my post, I saw that Bryan Walstrom had just put up a video on his Experimental Aircraft YouTube channel that really covers in-depth the theme of this thread! You will find it here.


Thanks for your reply, ive decided to hold off for a little bit, finish the rudder, and keep doing research/planning. Hearing from you all has really helped control the impulse/excitement phase. Going to watch the video now, thanks a million. 

Buy a completed 650 and start flying it now. You should be able to get a decent one in that price range.

For some crazy reason i never even thought to look for one thats for sale.


I paid 35k for a factory built AMD 601XLB with dynon glass and garmin radios
If you love building more than flying buy the complete kit and get to work!


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