Your choices in the affordable aircraft range of options are composed of one of three segments that this website tracks closely: Light-Sport Aircraft (SLSA or ELSA), light kit-built aircraft, or Part 103 ultralights.
In the first one, you can spend some real money with a few aircraft breaching the $200,000 barrier. Some handsome, well-equipped, high-performing aircraft are offered in that range, to be sure, but they may not fit your budget. Not all SLSA are not so expensive; some excellent candidates list for $40,000 to $125,000. If a Part 103 aircraft may suit your flying needs, you have a more choices that will get you aloft for a literal fraction of the high-end models.
Alternatively, you can build your own airplane.
If you choose the homebuilder route, your range of choices becomes even larger, in fact, almost infinite in that you can personalize an aircraft any way you wish and keep changing it as you like. The Experimental Amateur Built sector continues to be a great way to own a great airplane … IF you don’t mind the build time investment. In some cases, this is not too long, a few months, perhaps. In other cases, it can become a lifestyle, taking years.
If you fit into “none of the above” categories — that is no SLSA, no Part 103, and lack the time for a full build job — you have one other choice. Deliciously, it is an excellent one.
Unless you cancelled every aviation magazine subscription and turned off your Internet service, you can hardly have missed the One Week Wonder. In their usual marvelous fashion, EAA promoted the blazes out of this effort, which brought together expert builders with 2,500 “part timers” to assemble a Zenith CH-750 Cruzer at AirVenture Oshkosh … from crated kit to fully assembled in one week!
You can watch our video interview with Roger Dubbert about this fascinating, EAA member project just as it was getting underway at the big summer show in 2014.
If you missed out on the One Week Wonder — or even if you helped — the aircraft wasn’t yours in the end. (Of course, neither did you have to pay for it.) How about adding one extra week, a reasonably modest sum of your own money and end up with your very own STOL 750, Cruzer 750, or Zodiac 650B?
From Zenair Ltd., just across the U.S. border in Ontario, Canada, comes the Two Week Wonder. How does this work?
First, you choose which of those models most interests you. Each has a long history and many other builders. Ask around and you’ll likely find someone in your aviation group that has built or helped build one of the Chris Heintz designs. Two of Chris’ sons, Matt and Michael, started the Two Week Wonder (2WW) program.
Professional builder-assist centers are scattered around the USA and they are a great way to help less-certain builders get their airplane done and do so without the project dragging on forever. FAA approves of this technique as the pros only help you do the work, advising you on techniques and processes and offering space and tools.
Zenair’s 2WW arrangement is especially functional as the same family controls the designs, makes the kit components, and has lived with and flown these aircraft for decades. That kind of experience doesn’t generally come cheaply but how about $99,990 … for everything!?
For less than $100K, Zenair lets you have it your way as simply as 1-2-3. First Zenair has you select your model: Pick the high wing, bubble door Sky Jeep (STOL 750) or its speedier sibling (Cruzer 750), or the low wing, faster-yet Zodiac 650B. Second, choose your engine: Continental O-200D or Rotax 912 ULS, or UL Power. All are good choices with good history. Field support for Continental is widespread. Rotax has built an impressive service network and UL Power has personalized support from importer, Robert Helm. Third, pick your avionics, and what a tough choice that will be, deciding between Garmin‘s superlative G3X Touch or Dynon‘s ground-breaking SkyView Touch. Both come with com radio, intercom, and transponder. If you’re not content with this excellent package, you can further personalize your airplane with options.
When you’re done choosing, Matt and Michael arrange professional help from PlaneCrafters, located beside Zenair in the beautiful Georgian Bay area of central Ontario. While you’re building your kit, stay onsite or at one of the many local hotels, taking advantage of the low-cost Canadian dollar.
“Buyers can build their airplanes with supervision and guidance from factory experts, using factory fixtures and special tools,” said Zenair partner and Heintz brother, Michael. “Zenith kits are easy to build and we want to allow customers to [have] that experience, in a supervised … factory setting, where all the tools are readily at hand and experts are guiding the buyers.”
Build the airplane to your wishes, but any model can be constructed within the 1,320-pound weight limit that will let you fly it with a Sport Pilot certificate and no medical.
Here is what you will do …
Close the wings and tail sections and complete the advanced airframe kit
Complete the instrument panel and pre-wired electrical system (plug-n-play)
Bolt-on a factory-new engine with a the supplied firewall-forward package
Install the wings and tail sections (that were completed in the first week) to the fuselage
Finalize the installation of the controls and fuel system
Complete a detailed inspection of the aircraft
Start the engine and taxi the aircraft!
All for the introductory price of $99,990. Ready?