For our 2010 Kit Aircraft Buyer’s Guide, we have 313 designs to show you. This year, we have a new database manager at the helm in the form of regular contributor Cory Emberson. She worked tirelessly to track down new designs, chart and confirm changes to existing designs, and validate our many data points. Speaking of which, we have continued to refine our LSA-legal sorting techniques, but be aware of one thing: Some designs are right on the edge of legality, yet their manufacturers claim they are or can be made LSA compliant. We highlight only those models that are LSA, according to the specs provided. On prices: Generally, you cant build the complete aircraft for less than the kit cost, but there are exceptions where you can elect to fabricate some kit components yourself and save money. Typically, though, the old 3X rule of thumb still works: Your finished cost will be roughly three times the base kit price, less engine.
For us, the Internet is far from a sole source of information. Disconnected phones or failure to return calls reveal much-just because a company has a web site doesn’t mean its in business. This year, we couldn’t connect with Biplanes of Yesteryear or Legendary Aircraft. Epic Aircraft closed shop in 2009 under a cloud of controversy. As for other model deletions, Warner Aerocraft will sell only completed aircraft; no more Sportster kits. Comp Air appears finally to have pulled the plug on the Comp Air Jet, while Zenith Aircraft has made the CH 601 XL a plans-only design. Murphy Aircraft, which appeared to be on the brink, is now focusing on manufacturing, while Patterson Aero Sales handles sales and promotion of these venerable designs.
But lets talk additions: Airdrome Aeroplanes has two new designs, the DH-2 and scale-model Bleriot; the Belite 254 is a new ultralight; CGS has a new design in the Hawk Sport; Fisher Flying is back in the kit business, with a stunning 13 models all told; Kitfox has expanded with the Mark IV; Lancairs Piston Evolution joins the group (along with the Lancair IV and ES families, which everyone thought would be dropped with the introduction of the Evo, but not so); and the Xtra 200, Rocky Mountain Ridge Runner II, Scion Furio RG and Vans RV-12 are all new models in this guide.
Are these signs of an industry ready to jump at the first sign of economic recovery? Perhaps. Until then, well accept steady as she goes and keep building.