I was having an interesting chat with a co worker who is also into kit planes and recreational flying. I thought I would post it up here in the general discussion to see what others motivations were/are.

So a little about me. I've wanted to fly for as long as I can remember. I am in my early 30's, have a wife who stays at home with our two kids 1 and 3 and have worked in law enforcement for just over 10 years. I joined the air force when I was 20 as a pilot candidate, made my way through initial recruiting/testing and a simulator flying phase but ultimately washed out. 

Despite my tough luck with the air force I have had  a very rewarding career in law, am very active in big game hunting, fishing, and the outdoors. I am now wanting to develop my skills as a backcountry pilot and have always loved the CH701s/750's since paging through my neighbors "kitplane" magazines before he took them to the recycling depot as a kid.

Although time and money aren't always available, I thought id much rather start now and have hopefully decades ahead of me to enjoy the plane I will eventually have. I really like that Zenith/Zenair allows you to buy kits individually which for me anyways makes things much more affordable. Ive built my tail section and now am halfway through my wings/slats/flaps. Fuse is next !

so thats me, what about you? I am curious to hear how others came to be involved in this very cool niche hobby.


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My grandfather was an early aviator, flew with legends, and was a legend himself. My uncle was also a pilot, and my Dad's company owned and few several airplanes so I got exposed to aviation early on and by 12 years old I knew I wanted to build my own airplane, submarine and spaceship. I learded to fly in college and flew on an off for a number of years, but mostly renting. Purchased and airplane once, but had to unroll the purchase when stuff broken on the flight to deliver it from the inspection. When my 15 year old expressed interest in becoming a pilot we started looking again and found the Dynon HDX avionics at KOSH, and wanted to build an airplane for it. When I watched Rodger and Steve being video by Seb building a wing on Youtube my wife siad "We could do that" and my son and I flew out to build a rudder. We ordered the kit before we left and 18 months after taking delivery I had the DAR sign off for me to fly it! 

I put all other hobbies on hold, and used my TV time and other dead time to build. I had my build in the barn 100 yards from my house, then moved it to our 3 card garage for final rigging. I used everyone in the family to help out. My daugher helped with the interior, everyone pulled rivets at some point. My son put about 300 hours in to help and I put in a bit over a thousand including paint, engine and avionics. I used company bonuses from three different years to cover big ticket items like the kit, avionics and engine, so I was saving for longer than building. I saved a bunch getting all the parts for the airframe in one go so I would not have to waiit for finishing kit to build certain parts and it allowed to to optimally stage things and I always had something I could work on even in something else was stalled. 

I worked on finisheing al least one task every day I could, but life got in the way and I would have finished sooner but both my parents were ill and end-of-life stage and I lost a lot of build time to fly out of state to care for them. Family first. 

I do my own maintenence, but have a A&P help with condition inspection once a year to keep me honest and back up my eyes.

Zenith, Viking and Dynon were good choices and the customer service was excellent for all of them. I save so much being able to do the work myself. 

Make sure you get good transition training. No as easy as it should be but most accidents happen to people trying to fly without proper training early into their ownership, and transition training is a huge boost to not being a statistic. That is why insuance carriers demand it!

Best of luck.

Jonathan Fay

My Blog for my build is here


Wait! Someone throws away their Kitplanes magazines????

20 years Air Force. Avionics for me, because I didn't have good enough eyesight to be a pilot, was always good with my hands, and yes, was always a techno-geek. I still ended up flying as a crewmember for 13 years. Went into IT after Air Force retirement, and bought a 750 kit in 2011. Then I broke my back, spent several years in bed, underwent several surgeries (one a couple of weeks ago), and had to quit working. I'm not 100%, and never will be, but I'm moderately capable, certainly enough for kit building and Sport Pilot. I've been keeping in the game spiritually by helping people with their avionics installations, mostly Dynon (I'm Rhino on the Dynon forum). But, my wife is threatening me with death if I don't get started on the plane again, because we spent a lot of money to live in an airpark. So, after my next surgery heals, I'll have to get cracking again. That is, if the mice didn't damage my kit too badly in storage. I've already discovered some damage, and the cabin frame has corroded some. We'll see. In the meantime, I'll keep helping folks with avionics, and keep incessantly reading my aviation magazines, to keep my head in the game.

Hi Bob,

You are talking to the choir. Hopefully your helping others, helps you finish your plane as well.  That has definitely been the case for me.

Good luck with your project. 

Thanks for posting intercom tips, I am just in the process of wiring one up.


I grew up in a rural area, and airplanes were not commonly seen where I lived.  Whenever an airplane was heard flying over, people would often run out of their houses to look.  I built a lot of model airplanes as a kid, RC stuff, model rockets, etc.  I'd always wanted to be a test pilot for as long as I can remember.  

Finally was able to do more than be just an "aviation spectator" later in life, when the constraints of time, career, and opportunity all lined up.  Became a pilot in my mid 40's.  Built and flew my own airplane (N63PZ) less than 7 years after my first solo.  Finally had become a real test pilot!

I've often been asked the question "why would you build an airplane?".  Some people are genuinely interested, a lot of people seem to think it's "odd", and sometimes people are not accepting of it at all.  One local busybody (when I lived in Minnesota) followed up that question with "I just don't understand why anyone would want to do that, or why it's even allowed".  Another person, in a professional setting at work (I'm a retired systems engineer), upon hearing that I was building an airplane, literally said "see you later, a55hole" and walked away. I learned early on to be careful of how much I disclose, and to whom.

What is normal, familiar and interesting to those of us here (and in the EAA in general) is very far outside the viewpoints of the general public, even among people who otherwise appear thoughtful and intelligent.

- Pat

I find those folks usually change their tune when I tell them there are more new homebuilt planes being registered each year than factory built GA planes, and that many of the planes they see flying around are in fact homebuilts. I also tell them several of the current factory built planes are derived from homebuilt designs.

Just to answer the question posed in the thread title, I built mine so I had control over maintenance. I had a super clean low hour 172. Had a great A&P who took great care of me. However, if I wanted any non-urgent work requests, he was so good I’d have to wait 3 months to get a slot in his schedule. I thought - Hey! I can do the work he does, so sold the 172 and built my first plane. Of course, they’re like potato chips - can’t eat just one, so sold the first and built the Cruzer. 

Unlike Johnathan, I am the first aviator in my family. This made it a challenge to get started and my license and all. The building part came easy as my daily grind is industrial multi tech. After looking at different kits, the Zenith seemed very appealing. I actually got one that had already been started. I really enjoy the sunset flights. Sometimes the ribbing I get from my co-workers is fun, but they are still supportive. I am very blessed with my co-workers and to be able to fly. 

Wow! Ive met non-aviators who prefer airliners and GA pilots who prefer certified aircraft, but never someone who was hostile or rude about homebuilts. My grandfather earned his PPL and owned a third of a 182 but lost his medical when I was little. He always extolled the virtues of homebuilts and bought plans for a Falco and amassed a collection of woodworking tools to build it, but didnt get very far.

Ive always wanted to build my own because of the freedom to build it my way, repair or modify it my way and fly freely without paying an A&P for every jot and tiddle.

I'm also grateful to be an American and DIY aviation is one of the many freedoms I cherish. Is there a better nation to be a pilot?


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