According to their website, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) is “the only association that offers the fun and camaraderie of sharing your passion for participating in the flying, building, and restoring of recreational aircraft with the most passionate community of aviation enthusiasts.”
Although I’m an EAA member, consider myself passionate about aviation, and I’ve helped a good friend restore a home-built airplane, in no way can I claim any expertise as a builder. That said, I’ve learned to appreciate the skill and craftsmanship it takes to create some of the most beautiful flying machines on the planet.
Although to comprehensively compare factory- and home-built airplanes goes well beyond the scope of this post, suffice it to say that while standardization in materials and construction is essential in the case of the former, customization limited only by the vision and skills of the builder lies at the core of what home-built aircraft are all about. To put it another way, the sky isn’t the limit.
Broadly speaking, there are four levels of experimental airplane design and construction:
- Design and build it by starting with a blank sheet.
- Begin with plans for an aircraft someone else designed, purchase materials according to an included list, and build it.
- Build an aircraft from a kit, which includes plans and materials.
- Do the same with a “quick-build” kit, in which some of the most critical components arrive fully or partially completed.
This post honors a quintessential example of level number 1. And in this case, the first page was not only blank, but conceptually way out there where few others have done more than dream. I’ve included a link below to an EAA video made for AirVenture 2010 at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the granddaddy of airshows in the U.S.
Even if you have little or no interest in aviation, I encourage you to take a look. The production is beautifully done, and it chronicles how one man with a vision has combined with aviation an activity most individuals age 16 and above know all too well.
I also encourage you to stick with it to the end for a very special insight into the source of this remarkable individual’s inspiration. Here’s the link: