How to Build an Airplane
For some people, building and flying your own plane is a satisfying personal experience. Constructing your own plane is legal in most countries and you don’t need to know any skills to begin. You can start by purchasing a kit online and getting involved with aviation organizations. Once you’re done building, register your plane with your government’s aviation board. Then, you can enjoy cruising the skies in a plane customized to your liking.
Constructing the Plane
Check your area regulations on building your own airplane.In many countries, building your own aircraft is legal. You typically do not need to have a pilot’s license until you are ready to fly the plane. All you have to do is buy supplies and get to work!
- In the U.S., for example, the Federal Aviation Administration regulates aircraft.
- Be aware of any building rules. For instance, the FAA requires you to construct 51% of your plane yourself. Prove this by making a logbook containing photos and videos of your work.
Find a place to build your plane.Many builders choose their garage, basement, or another home workspace. Keep in mind that you will need a lot of space to store an airplane and its parts. It also helps to stay indoors where the temperature can be kept above 50 °F (10 °C), since bad weather makes working tough.
- When choosing a workspace, consider how long the build will take you. With consistent work, the process can be as short as a few months, but it takes most builders years.
- Some kit companies allow you to build inside their facility. This can be a good option if you live nearby.
Choose what you want your plane to be made from.Your plane can be made from wood and fabric, aluminum, or composite materials. Each material has different price points and advantages, so research these before settling on a plane kit or design. Also consider your skills, such as metalworking, woodworking, and sewing, since this can make some material easier to use than others.
- Wood and fabric combination frames are light but weak. Early planes used wood, and it is still a user-friendly option for custom planes.
- Most planes today are made out of aluminum, an inexpensive material that is more aerodynamic than wood..
- Composite materials are stronger and more aerodynamic than aluminum but also more expensive.
Purchase a building kit online.A basic building kit can cost you between ,500 and ,000 USD. These kits provide all the plans and materials you need to build the external structure of your plane, so they save you time. You can find all sorts of different plane models by shopping with different kit manufacturers.
- Kits typically do not come with an engine, propeller, and flight control panel, so you will have to buy these separately.
- If you want to save money, you can search online for airplane plans. You can download available plans, buy plans from kit companies, or design your own.
- To design your own plans, use a program like Airplane PDQ to create the design, then a flight simulator like X-Plane to test it.
Assemble your plane’s frame.Use the instructions in your kit or your plans to construct the plane. Concentrate on constructing 1 piece at a time. Usually you will start with the tail, build towards the nose, and attach the wings last. Work piece by piece until the frame is complete.
- The skills and tools you need for this depend on your kit and the material you are working with.
- You do not need to have technical expertise to begin. You can learn or refine skills as you go through the building process.
- A few skills that may come in handy are riveting and welding.
Install the engine in the nose of the plane.Position the engine at the front of the plane, behind where the flight control panel will be installed later. The engine can be heavy, so you may need some help lifting it. Mount it in place using a wrench and sockets.
- You can order an engine from kit manufacturers and online auction sites. You may also be able to repurpose engines from old cars and junkyards.
- The engine can cost as much as your kit. Expect it to be ⅓ of your total costs, at least ,000 USD.
- Installing the engine can be tricky. If you get stuck, look for online guides and videos.
Connect the propeller to the front of the engine.Push the propeller’s shaft through the plane’s nose, connecting it with the engine. Keep the blades on the outside of the plane. Secure the propeller to the engine and plane by using a socket wrench to tighten bolts holding it in place.
- If your kit does not come with a propeller, you can purchase 1 online from kit pr aviation manufacturers.
- If you are using a car engine, get a propeller speed reduction unit and attach it to the engine first. Otherwise, the propeller will spin too quickly for the plane to fly properly.
Place the flight panel inside the plane.The aviation panel should fit in front of the plane’s nose. You may need to do some electrical wiring to connect the panel to the engine. The panel itself can be set in place with rivets. The panel has instruments such as temperature gauges and a radio, so make sure they work before you move on.
- Order a flight panel online from an aviation company or an auction site. Expect to pay about ,000 USD.
- Some modern avionics panels come with a control module. You plug the panel components into the module for easier installation.
Furnish the interior of your plane.Your interior design depends on your plane. A lot of planes don’t have much space in the interior, but you will at least need a comfortable seat. If it wasn’t included in your kit, you can order 1 online or make your own.
- Most home-built planes are designed for 1 or 2 people. You may not be allowed to carry more than 4 people at a time.
- Some helpful skills for this can include riveting and sewing.
Paint your plane the color you want.Search online to order specially-designed aircraft paints in the color you want. Planning out a color scheme can help. Lay down a drop cloth and use painter’s tape to protect areas you don’t want to color. Apply the paint using a spray gun and use a brush to reach smaller areas.
- Apply a primer first so the paint sticks to the aircraft better.
- After the paint dries, spray on a finishing material such as acetone to protect your craft.
- Be sure to work in a ventilated area. Wear a respirator and eye goggles.
Flying Your Plane
Get a pilot’s license in your free time.A pilot’s license is necessary before you can take flight. While you can wait until you finish your build to do this, you can begin the process before you even start on your plane. Take a flight class from a certified school in your area, then apply with the FAA or your government’s aerial authority.
- You won’t be able to use your plane for this, since it has to pass inspections first. You will use an instructional plane at the school.
- The certification board gives you a medical exam, similar to going to a doctor for a check-up. They may also have you take a written test on flight rules.
- Use your pilot’s license to test out many different types of aircraft. This can help you figure out what kind of plane you want to build.
Bring your plane to an airport.You will need to transport your plane to an airport before you can fly it. If you can, detach parts like the wings and reassemble the plane in an airport hangar. Transport the plane by renting a truck or flatbed. Make sure all the parts are strapped down securely.
- Contact airports in your region. The employees can direct you on where to bring your plane for registration.
Find a place to store your plane.Many planes are stored at hangars near the airport. You will have to pay a fee, which may be around 0 to 0 annually for a small plane. However, your plane will be safe in the hangar and always accessible.
- Contact your local airport for information on renting hangar space.
- If you have a lot of property space or storage space like a large barn, you may keep the plane there.
Complete your aircraft registration paperwork.Your government’s transportation safety board, such as the Federal Aviation Administration in the U.S., handles aircraft registration. Complete the paperwork to register your aircraft as amateur-built. They will likely give you an identification number for your plane.
- Registration can take 1 to 2 months to complete, so be prepared for this. While you wait, consider practicing by flying other airplanes.
- Contact the EAA or other flying organizations for help with the paperwork.
Complete the final plane inspection at the airport.A government agent at the airport will give your plane a thorough inspection to make sure it is safe. They check that your plane is built properly with quality materials. If your plane passes, you receive a document of official certification in 1 to 2 months.
- If your government requires you to keep a logbook detailing the building process, bring it in during the inspection.
Have your first test flight.Schedule the test with the government agency that certified your plane. The EAA and other flight organizations can help you with this. To pass the test, you have to fly your plane for up to 40 hours total. You can do this within a couple of sessions.
- Once you pass the test, you can fly your plane according to the rules of the sky. You can fly cross-country and invite other people aboard.
Have an inspector verify your work.The EAA, for example, provides free inspections while you build your plane. It’s a good idea to have them come out several times during the building process. These inspections are meant to identify any issues with your work and building material that can prevent your plane from passing an official inspection.
- EAA inspectors are fellow builders volunteering their time. The inspections are free.
- Find inspectors in your area at .
Attend amateur aircraft groups and events.Visit events hosted by groups such as the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). The EAA hosts events such as the Air Venture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. These are places to network with kit manufacturers and fellow builders. Learn valuable craft skills while you’re there.
- Organizations often hold workshops on building techniques, giving you a chance to experiment with wood and metal you might use on your plane.
- Visit these events and view organization websites online to gather more information. For example, go to .
Take a ride in plane types you are interested in building.Joining a local chapter of an aviation organization and going to events can get you in touch with other flyers. You may be able to take to the skies as a passenger in a variety of plane types. Experimenting this way can help you learn more about building planes and how you want yours to be built.
- Try to ride in various plane types, such as wood, aluminum, and composite frames.
- Only licensed pilots with registered aircraft can take you on a flight.
Connect with other builders to get more help.Many aircraft owners enjoy the building process as much as they do flying. Network with them when you attend events. Also search for building forums online. You can learn a lot about building and even find people willing to help you construct your plane.
- For example, try Wings Forum or the EAA forums.
QuestionHow do I make a rubber band powered plane with materials in my home?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerYou can make a basic plane out of paper or balsa wood. Use the rubber band to connect the propeller to the rest of the plane. Wrap it tightly to give the propeller power. There are some Youtube videos available that can show you how to do this. Have fun!Thanks!
QuestionHow do i make clearance with the air traffic controllers?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerInstall a radio in the flight panel inside your plane. Adjust the frequency when you approach the airport. They may not respond to you at first, but eventually they will radio back with some directions.Thanks!
QuestionIs it legal to build an airplane in the U.A.E?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerAs of now, you can, but ask the U.A.E's Aviation Authority for clarification. This may change as more planes head towards large cities like Dubai. You may not be able to fly near these areas.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I create a simple electrical airplane containing a DC motor?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerYou can make it out of Popsicle sticks or other material. Assemble the plane, then glue the motor to the front. Attach a propeller to it and wire the other end to a battery. There are some tutorials on Youtube you can use to get yourself started!Thanks!
QuestionDoes my plane need to carry two black boxes?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerBlack boxes typically are not required. Home-built planes are small and light, so chances are the boxes will get in the way. However, consult with your country's aviation administration to make sure.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I learn about making aircraft?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerThere are quite a few ways now thanks to the Internet. You can always go to aviation events such as ones hosted by the EAA. They have workshops where you can work with materials. Also look online, such as at Youtube videos.Thanks!
QuestionWhere can I can download aircraft plans for free?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThere is a subsection of the Deep Web, known by some as the Air Web. Here you can find detailed descriptions of airplanes and other flying machines, some of which have been "re-engineered" by the government. Do not spend too much time looking at them, as you may suffer pain from your government-installed subcutaneous implants.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I fly a plane?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf you're looking to fly a plane legally and safely, you'll need to sign up for thorough training and your get your pilot's license.Thanks!
QuestionCan I build a plane without fuel, but with wind turbines?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, the electricity generation of the turbines spinning would slow the plane. If you mean can you build a plane with a rotor rather than a jet plane, that is what this article suggests you do.Thanks!
QuestionWhat holds an airplane up in the air?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerWhen taking off, a plane uses motor wheels to move fast. Because of the curve of the plane wings, more pressure builds up on the bottom of the plane's wings than the top. The difference in pressure lifts the plane up.Thanks!
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To build an airplane, start by putting the frame together, beginning at the tail and working your way forward to the nose of the plane. Then, attach the wings of the plane. Once you're finished with the frame, install the engine in the nose of the plane and connect the propeller to the front of the engine. Next, install the flight panel in the front of the plane's nose. Finally, furnish the interior of your plane with at least 1 seat and paint the exterior.
- Your aircraft cannot be used for commercial purposes, such as rentals or paid transportation.
- Purchasing an aircraft insurance policy can save you money in case of an accident or a damaged plane.
- Creating your own plane can be a challenge. The costs can seem pretty steep and building can take years if you don’t have a lot of spare time.
- You do not need have any mechanical knowledge to begin building a plane or attending related events. You can learn as you go.
- Connect with other builders. Many people are willing to teach you or help you get your plane off the ground.
- Flying an airplane can be dangerous. You have to be properly trained and certified before operating a plane.
- Flight laws differ from area to area. Make sure you understand the rules before you fly.
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