Dirk Zahtillas Excalibur

I started construction of Excalibur N53DZ in January of 2006. After researching the available kits within my meager budget, I chose the Excalibur based on the cost and the quality of materials used as well as the attitude of Tom Karr, president of Excalibur. The process of construction turned out to be very simple and requires only minimal skills. Most of the work is drilling holes and pop-riveting everything together plus the fabric covering. The first flight was on August 22, 2006. I made one trip around the pattern and landed. It was a brief flight, but at least I was able to determine that the flight controls were working correctly. My next flight was for an hour. I got up to 8000 feet MSL and just spent time making gentle turns and trying to maintain altitude and speed while watching the engine temps. After a while I managed to get the prop setting adjusted better. I was using about 5000 rpm, and speed was 70 to 75 mph. With just the briefest shot of full power, I was at 80 and accelerating quickly, but I backed off then. After getting a better feel for the controls, my next landing was smooth. The Excalibur is everything I was told it would be. Its easy to build, easy to personalize and once its trimmed up, easy to fly.

Carson City, Nevada

 David Atacks Sportsman

This is Sportsman kit No. 7076, which I started at the Customer Build Center for three weeks in August 2005. I trailered the plane south to Portland, Oregon, and then out to Emerald Aircrafters, in Troutdale, Oregon, where Ted Backus helped me finish the airplane. I did the first flight on June 30, 2006, over Troutdale Airport, and then moved the plane to my hangar at Twin Oaks Airpark in Hillsboro, Oregon, and flew my 40 hours for the Lycoming IO-390 engine. The Sportsman was painted very nicely by Jeff Miller at JMI Motoring in Arlington, Washington, and was just completed at the end of January 2007. Alan Negrin from Glasair took these pictures near the paint shop on the Arlington Airport. I am delighted with the way the Sportsman handles, and the paint job is great. The avionics were done by Pacific Coast Avionics and include a Grand Rapids Horizon with GPS, Garmin 430, Dynon EFIS-D10A, Garmin SL30 nav/com and transponder, and Vision EMS. It is well-equipped for IFR.

[email protected]

 Randy Crawfords RANS S-7S

In anticipation of the Light Sport ruling, I purchased the RANS S-7S in August 2003 and took delivery in January 2004. Although it took twice as many hours as expected (800 hours with a quickbuild option), I couldn’t have made a better choice. This was my first Experimental/Amateur-Built plane, and I enjoyed building it so much that I built many parts twice just for the fun of it. I received the FAA Airworthiness Certificate in July 2006, but I just finished all the final paint and trim work in January 2007. I am amazed how good she looks (considering that it was my first), and happy to say she flies even better. Equipped with a Rotax 912 ULS, the performance is more than expected. What a great feeling of accomplishment. RANS provided a great kit, beautiful craftsmanship for the quickbuild and excellent support along the way.

Roanoke, Texas

Don Bolls Sonex

On a North Dakota farm strip where my father taught me to fly 40 years ago, Sonex N395 DB took to the air on May 30, 2006. I want to thank my wife, Sharon, for encouraging me on this project and the other three homebuilts I have completed: a Fisher 303, a Fisher Youngster and a Kolb Firestar. Her enthusiastic attitude kept me on track. Also a big thank you to the Monett family for their commitment to the reality check. I am now working on a homebuilt powered parachute.

[email protected]


Bill Hebestreits Waiex

I saw the Y-Tail article in the April 2005 issue of KITPLANES and four days later I called Sonex and placed the order for my Waiex. It is your fault, KITPLANES! There was a 10-week shipping time for the plane, so I had them send me the 80-hp AeroVee engine kit in order to have something to do while waiting. By sheer chance, the Waiex kit arrived on my 78th birthday! My hangar helpers range from 72 to 82 years old, so we named ourselves “The Old Geezers Aeroplane Works” and had our T-shirts printed up. It took about a year to complete the plane to the point shown in the picture. Mine is the fourth customer-built Waiex to fly. The paint is Ford Motor Companys “Screaming Yellow.” The aluminum part will take the rest of fall and winter to polish, but for now, we fly! I had not flown anything during the build period and ignoring recommendations to “brush up some,” I made the first flight myself. I have nothing but praise for the design, because it made up for my poor judgment and brought me home in one piece. It flies like a straight tail airplane except I have to keep my feet on the floor during turns if I want to keep the ball centered.

[email protected]

Mike Bettis Murphy Elite

I began building my three-place Murphy Elite in the first part of 2005 and completed it in exactly two years and 1700 man hours. First test flight of N771ME was made February 19, 2007. Besides building the kit, I also rebuilt a low-time 180-horsepower Lycoming engine core. I ended up with a certified engine and prop combination. Empty weight is 1122 pounds. The panel has a full steam gauge six-pack and a panel-mounted AvMap EKP-IV. The project can be seen at Thanks to my wife, Lori, for her support and for putting up with the monthly credit card bills. Also thanks to the Rebel Builders Group for their advice when I needed it; to Dave Vandenburg, EAA tech counselor and ABDAR, and to Joe Schumacher, EAA tech counselor and EAA flight advisor.

Iron Mountain, Michigan
[email protected]



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.