Only One Way to Skin This Wing


There may be more than one way to skin a feline (I’ve never tired), but if you stray from the instructions while skinning this wing, you’re going to drill yourself into a corner! The process for drilling the skin to these long Xenos wings is one of the few step-by-step procedures given in the plans, and the number of parts and the way they overlap and allow/block access means that following the steps is well advised.

Here is the left wing of our project as we attached the first panel, in the middle of the job, and with all skins clecoed in place. Clecoed with 3/32″ clecos, that is – all of the holes still have to be updrilled before the holes are ready for rivets. Oh, and off course, complete disassembly and deburring is in there too. And then there are four pages of plans devoted to getting the spoiler troughs properly installed before we can fully close up the wing. It’s a long way from a finished wing, in other words – but it sure is beginning to look like one!

We were delighted to find that the Sonex pre-punching process for the skins is incredibly accurate – the substructure aligns to the pe-punched skin, and adjacent and overlapping panels fit together perfectly. As expected, the underlying ribs took a little coaxing now and again with an all, but that is just to account for a little twist here and there. And to save you from counting, that is a LOT of silver clecoes. I’ve built enough planes to have accumulated a pretty big inventory of them – and I still had to borrow a few hundred from a friend. It’s good to live at an airpark.

Now where’s my bucket of 1/8″ clecos… we’ve got up-drilling to do!

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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.


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