Older Builder’s Scenario

A GA pilot retires at age 65 and hunts for something to keep his mind stimulated and provide a sense of accomplishment, so he buys a relatively simple kit plane for $30K that uses steam gauges. He has dreams and visions of flying it to places he always wanted to visit, like Glacier National Park or seeing grandkids in Maine. He gets started and works on it for a couple of years. Progress is slower than he envisioned but he keeps at it and doesn’t fly for fun anymore as the plane demands money for engine and avionics. Now he’s four to five years into the pro-ject and still not finished.

He reads KITPLANES®, goes to Oshkosh and sees that the cool guys have fancy glass cockpits that will take him safely anywhere he wants to go. He buys the expensive components and begins to wire them up and that takes more time. By now, he’s seven to nine years on, invested $60K and his health is gradually deteriorating, hasn’t flown a minute in the dream plane, and isn’t sure if he can pass a medical or if he even wants to fly anymore at his age. So he sells the whole works for $30K and plays golf.

I have seen this exact scenario played out twice by builders around me. In the back of my mind is the thought that perhaps if they had kept the project simple and affordable, they would have been flying the dream plane somewhere and enjoying the efforts of their labor years earlier. Then, when they are happy with the plane and themselves, gradually change over to more sophisticated avionics or just keep it simple and fly it. Maybe this bigger and better stuff isn’t for everybody.

Bob Hartunian

Annual Condition Inspection

I’m a little behind in my reading and this question is in response to the November Maintenance Matters article.

Does the annual condition inspection have to be done all at once? Let’s say my condition inspection is due in March but my oil change is due in January. So in January, I change the oil and run the complete engine inspection check list including oil suction screen inspection, compression check, etc. I make an engine logbook entry documenting this work. Then in March, I complete the airframe and propeller inspection check lists. Can I then put in the airframe logbook in March the condition inspection language that I have inspected the airplane and found it airworthy even though the engine was inspected two months prior?

Mike Andresen

Steve Ells responds: Good question. As I understand it, the first condition inspection on a kit-built airplane is due 12 months after the first flight. It’s permissible to shorten the inspection interval but not to lengthen it. By doing the engine inspection in January, you have shortened the inspection interval for the engine.

You can only sign off the engine part of the condition inspection in March if you do another engine condition inspection in March.

If you choose not to do another engine condition inspection in March, you will have to do future engine condition inspections every 12 months. In other words, every January.

Write to [email protected] or mail a piece of your mind to:
KITPLANES, P.O. Box 315, Ashland, OR 97520.


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