How Many? This Many!


All that’s left before the eXenos takes to the air is the FAA to come out and give us an Airworthiness Certificate, so I guessed it was finally time to close the lid on the rivet mandrel container and show just how many rivets it takes to build the long-winged Sonex! No, we’re not going top count them – but this represents about seven years of (on-again, off-again) work on the slow-build kit. This one was slow enough that we even built the spars, so the total rivets really do represent an entire airframe.

The container – familiar to anyone that shops at Costco and enjoys those little peanut-butter-pretzel snacks – is full to the brim. That’s fuselage, wings, tail, and any accessories such as gear leg fairings and cowl attachments. Top be completely open, we probably used a few solid rivets here and there for minor things like cowling attach hinges, but the airplane is 99% built exactly to plans. Well, except for the firewall forward installation of the electric motor.

We’ll keep you up to date on the process of getting it in the air—as soon as we figure out how to fill out the online “paperwork” system that the FA has instigated since our last completion.

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Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 and SubSonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra and an electric Xenos motorglider they completed. Currently, they are building an F1 Rocket. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 6000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, FAA DAR, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor; he was formerly a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.


  1. Paul, You must have missed a few. I built a standard Sonex TD, and my jar looks to be slightly larger than yours, 6″ OD, filled to 10″ weight 21 Lbs, 7.6 Oz. I called it my completion gauge. When full call for inspection. Sonex: — 11,000 SS rivets held in close flying formation by a minimum amount of aluminum.

    • Great to know we’ve got other engineers building airplanes David…artists wouldn’t have kept track!

      I pulled out my scale, and our container weighs 25.6 lbs – long wings you know…..


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