Even though our segment of Experimental aviation, the homebuilt domain, is dominated by kit aircraft, there are still some hardy and handy builders who prefer to craft their own airplanes from scratch, tapping into the essence of how homebuilt aviation was conducted in its infancy. This is not to say that the plansbuilt designs are limited only to the aircraft of the early days (though there are certainly many of those). There are also high-performance aerobatic racing types among this group, along with the replicas of the earliest designs. Building from plans may hold appeal for those with more time than money, because materials can be gathered a little at a time and acquired as they are found or become available, with the finished project’s bottom line often favorably affected. And if a builder wishes to purchase some components in addition to building from plans, that option is sometimes available.
Last year we had listed 138 currently available plansbuilt designs, and this year we count 142. Still, there has been a slight contraction in the business that is not reflected in this number, as some kits have now become available only as plans. Some of the plans sellers we are aware of have been in business for more than half a century, and as small businesses, if there is no one to take up the mantle as they grow older, such as a family member or other interested party, the plans may simply no longer be made available. As the population of early plans designers ages, we may see this happen more and more often. Still, there are new developments to talk about, and though the new plans-only designs are few (mostly limited to newly owned), some shifting has been going on in this area of homebuilding, and we’ll take a look at what has changed since last year.
What’s Developed in the Realm
A couple of items were mentioned in the Kit Aircraft Buyer’s Guide last month, but they’re worth revisiting. Preceptor Aircraft has discontinued making kits and is now offering plans only for its N-3 Pup, Stinger, STOL King, Super and Ultra Pups. A new web site is being designed and should be launched by the time you read this, the company says. The Bearhawk LSA, which is available as a kit from Bearhawk Aircraft, is also available as a plansbuilt from R&B Aircraft (Bob Barrows). For more on Barrows’ latest development, see Jared Yates’s article on Page 28.
Hevle Aviation, purveyor of the Hevle Classic, is also developing an 80% Stearman that will be powered by a Rotec engine, the company says. Meyer Aircraft, which currently offers the Little Toot, has plans for a “Big Toot” and is building the first example, says Thomas Meyer. Production photos of this work in progress will be offered on a web site that the company says is being revamped. The Big Toot is expected to be available next year.
There is a new listing for new company, Andrew Budek-Schmeisser, and the Jungster 2, and they’re working not only on new designs, including a clipped-wing monocoupe, but are also planning to offer kits for the Jungster 1 and Jungster 2. (No word on when those kits might be available.) The rights for the Jungster 1 biplane were purchased from Mike Townsley. Adams Aeronautics Company has acquired the CA-2. The company purchased the rights from Hummel Aviation, which was no longer supporting the design. Andrew Pietenpol, grandson of Pietenpol Air Camper designer Bernard Pietenpol, has taken over the plans business, and it’s now renamed BHP and Sons Air Camper Aircraft LLC. You can read more about the family legacy in the sidebar on Page 27. We were unable to contact Ev Cassagneres, purveyor of the Ryan ST-R Replica, but an Internet search subsequently yielded an obituary, so we have to assume that this design is no longer available. CSN, which offers plans for the Corby Starlet CJ-1, says the new Corby Kestrel CM2 all-metal design that is in the works has been delayed and should be available next year. Justin Drake, which had offered the M-19 Flying Squirrel, couldn’t be contacted, and so that is designated no longer available until we hear to the contrary. The Hatz Biplane Association, which offers plans for the Hatz CB-1 and Kelly D, has a new president, Kevin Connor.
Meyer Little Toot.
The Hummel Bird from Hummel Aviation had somehow been mislabeled in the Online Aircraft Buyer’s Guide as not being available, but it is a current design. The company’s Ultra Cruiser Plus has been replaced by the H-5.
As of November 2012, Redfern Plans, which had offered the Redfern Fokker DR1 and Redfern Nieuport 17 or 24, is no longer selling plans. Marv Reese has sold the rights for the Daisy Mae design to Russ Alarie, and it is now listed under the company name Flight Addictions, LLC. Roger Mann, which switched names to Ragwing Aircraft last year, is now back to being listed as Roger Mann and offers some 14 designs from the RW1 Ultra-Piet “Pete” to the RW26 Special II. Carl Unger, purveyor of the Breezy R.L.U.-1 is coming up on the 50th anniversary of the design. He says he’s “still flying a 37-year-old airplane built by a 17-year-old kid.” Luceair, which offers plans for the Wittman Buttercup, says a materials kit is now available through Aircraft Spruce & Specialty.
Newly Owned Designs
Adams Aeronautics Company: CA-2
The ultralight CA-2, designed by Frank Griffith, is now owned by Adams Aeronautics Company, and plans sales and builder support have resumed. This low-wing aircraft has tailwheel landing gear and a wingspan of 26 feet; it is Sport Pilot compliant. Build time, for beginners, is estimated to be 600 hours.
Andrew Budek-Schmeisser: Jungster 2
The Jungster 2 is a high-wing monoplane with a maximum speed of 200 mph and a rate of climb of 3500 fpm. The wing design is parasol; the landing gear is tailwheel. The aircraft was designed by Rim Kaminskas and is constructed mostly of aircraft-grade spruce. The wingstruts and landing gear are constructed from 4130 steel tubing. A kit is planned for the future, the company says.
As mentioned in the Kit Aircraft Buyer’s Guide last month, this guide is intended as a starting point. The Online Buyer’s Guide, available at www.kitplanes.com, offers complete listings (including specifications and contact information) for more than 1000 new and used kit and plansbuilt aircraft, and rotorcraft. (Non-subscribers: See the ad on Page 31 for free online access.) Even though purchasing a plans set is less of an initial investment than a kit, it still pays to do your homework: Talk or meet with the plans provider, visit online discussion boards, if they’re available, and speak to builders who have constructed the type of airplane you’re considering to get a sense of what you’ll be in for. If you can find a working aircraft of the model you like, try it on for size and maybe even ask the owner for a demo flight. Most will be more than willing to help an enthusiastic would-be builder.
Luceair Wittman Buttercup.