It’s said you don’t know where to begin until someone shines a light down the dark hallway. Metaphorically, anyway, because it’s hard to build an airplane in darkness. Flipping on the overhead lights is exactly what the KITPLANES® annual directory of kit- and plansbuilt aircraft is all about. It’s the one place where this information is all in one place.
And if perusing this guide doesn’t suggest that we have a massive number of interesting designs you can build, and if the aircraft represented here don’t convince you that there’s far more aeronautical diversity in Experimentals than in any other segment of general aviation…well, then, I don’t know what will. Do you want “fast glass”? It’s here. Do you want to build in metal, composites, tube-and-fabric, or some of all of those? Yep, got you covered there, too. How many “Cub type” airplanes are there to build? It’s almost possible to lose count!
The what is one thing. The how we build this database for you is something else. It’s worth considering a few aspects of our methodology: The information that underpins this guide is updated not just once a year (as we did so many moons ago) but in an ongoing manner through our new website. Manufacturers send us their updated info and we change it in the database first, then extract it as late as we possibly can for this issue, and then print it here. Which is precisely why you may actually see a divergence in some small pieces of data from what you see on these pages to what you’ll find on the site. Given the nature of the beast, consider the site to be more “recent.”
For designs that are no longer available, we take info directly from the manufacturers when they say they’re no longer selling such-and-such a kit. Sometimes this is the result of them consolidating their product lines and recognizing when older, slower-selling kits have dropped too far below the profitability line. Sometimes they make changes in their manufacturing capabilities or see disruptions in their supply chains that make older designs too expensive or difficult to support, and that’s why the aircraft become unavailable.
And, sometimes, despite our best efforts to e-mail, call, cajole, and otherwise corner at airshows, we simply can’t get confirmation that a kitbuilder or plans supplier is still in business. We know that a few of these entities amount to hobbies, but our assumption is that if we can’t get in touch with the company just to get information, you won’t have much better luck getting parts or plans. That said, if you’re one of the manufacturers whose product has been listed as “no longer available” in error, please contact the webmaster and we’ll correct the data.
Last thing: If you haven’t seen our digital version of this guide, you owe it to yourself to spark up the computer and take a look. In addition to the data points shown here, the website offers the opportunity to compare selected designs and commit extensive filtering. Plus, the amount of data is more detailed than we have space to print on these pages. Have a look, and good hunting for your first (or next) Experimental/Amateur-Built project.
KITPLANES subscribers can download the PDF version of the December issue.