A Building Epidemic!

Rans S-21 Outbound

No need to rush out to your doctor for the latest vaccine, unless, of course, you are living at our air park and your spouse is allergic to seeing a new airplane kit arrive! It seems that new kit starts in our neighborhood are blossoming - now doubt a follow to a successful AirVenture and economic optimism on the part of many who have been contemplating a new build.

Our airpark is fairly small with about thirty-something homes, and maybe half of those currently owned by pilots who are actively aviating. By my count, we currently have about eleven flying experimental aircraft (there might also be a kit helicopter tucked away in the back of a hangar). Until recently our Xenos project was the only one active--under construction. But in the past few weeks, we have ben running around to other hangars helping here and there on several new projects. The latest purchase is a new Rans S-21 kit, arriving in a couple of months. Last week, a neighbor with an RV-7A was seen pulling a flat bed trailer with a Kitfox fuselage and a bunch of boxes in to his hangar. Of course, we have our ongoing Xenos project, and the Subsonex jet kit should arrive in just a little more than a month. I finished up the phase 1 testing of a brand new ELSA RV-12 a couple of months ago, and another neighbor is building a new set of wheel pants for his RV-6A, which happens to be the very first one finished by anyone, anywhere (not by him - he's just the fortunate current owner/caretaker for this little gem). Not experimental, but still airplane projects, we have a couple of Stearmans undergoing restoration in yet another hangar.

What does it all mean? Well, aside from the fact that most of our airpark denizens are retired, and have the time to build, I think it is a refreshing reflection on the potential for growth in our segment of aviation. I saw a lot of smiles among my friends at Oshkosh who sell kits, and maybe that's because of an up-tick in the industry. We can hope this is the case, and that it will continue! No matter what you're building, a rising tide floats all boats, and more airplanes means more activity - and that is indeed good for the industry.

Paul Dye

Paul Dye, Kitplanes® Editor in Chief, 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 that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra they completed. Currently, they are building a Xenos motorglider. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 5000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, EAA Tech Counselor, and Flight Advisor, as well as 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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