BCnF: build, certify and fly your own homemade airplane


My high school math teacher built one (mostly in his basement during the winter) – he spent a couple of years completing it. I assume that it would be like the balsa wood model that I got as a kid – I would get about 1/4 done and then get bored and try to improvise my own design…

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Kit planes are incredibly cool for aviation geeks, I want a one seater (maybe a jet!) for aerobatic flight, I would rather a proven design where you can find a variety of certified A&Es for passengers though. They fall under the experimental rules so you register them as such, don’t think you can certify a home built for use by a non-pilot certified passenger though(without ridiculous inspection and probably a sample for the FAA). The manufacturer kits where you drive a few screws under the eye of an engineer is mostly a fun route to a legal waiver of liability so it is harder to sue a manufacturer while still being fully certified for passengers.

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I took 11 years to build my plane and it had its first flight in 2012. The term “homebuilt” and “experimental” is a bit of a shame because it makes it sound like an “oh, gee, I think I’ll build a plane this weekend” thing. It’s a tremendously intellectual exercise in which you are challenged to persevere and learn. You’re going to put the people you love the most in the plane so you’re not going to do anything haphazard or stupid.

Minnesota, Texas, and the Pacific Northwest seem to be the hotbeds of this activity.

Most everyone I know who’s built an airplane are anxious to explain the process to anyone who’s interested in knowing how it can be accomplished.


Any Northern Exposure fans probably remember when Maggie built her own plane and flew it. I loved that show.

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“It’s not fun to do this! Your wife leaves you, she’s in bed with the milkman and you’re ‘Ohhh, where’s my front suspension unit?’” - Jeremy Clarkson

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Every time my car stalls, and drifts safely to the side of the road, I’m reminded that my shoddy maintenance habits mean it’s a good thing I’ll never pursue idle dreams of piloting my own plane.


I just did this, actually. I completed building and am in the process of test-flying my RV7. @jlw’s been following the slow but steady progress for a few years now. This is the blog I used for the FAA-required construction log and the video of first takeoff and landing is here.


My friend started building an RV-6 in 1999 and finished it three years ago. He would spend an evening figuring out how to drill two rivet holes, such was his attention to detail. During those twelve years, Van’s improved their kits tremendously, so that most all of the little stuff he had to figure out for himself is now covered in the instructions.

My favorite: The Falco

Sleek, streamlined, its like the Ferrari of BCnF

Great to see this topic popping up here - I’m completely and totally biased, as I work for the Experimental Aircraft Association (, the organization dedicated to supporting the homebuilt aircraft world.

We have an RV-6A in our staff flying club, and a group of us are building a Zenith CH 750 on evenings and weekends. Here’s our blog if anyone wants to have a look:

And lava - I got to fly a Falco F8L (terrible designation, if you pronounce it!) a few years ago, and it was every bit as smooth as you could imagine!

@daemonsquire - bear in mind that, by the time you do actually fly, you’re far, far better trained to deal with emergencies than we ever are as drivers… :smile:

@stjohn - congrats on the first flight!


Yes, I am mightily impressed that you are getting to certification. I can’t believe the plane isn’t in your house any more.

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