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Thread: Looking for help finishing a J-3 I've inherited

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Suffolk, VA

    Looking for help finishing a J-3 I've inherited

    I am in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, and I have a J-3 in my (2-car) garage. When my father-in-law passed away, he left it to me because I shared his love of flying. He built it from a Wag-Aero Sport Trainer kit, doing all the welding, assembling, covering, painting, etc. himself. Unfortunately, he was unable to complete it before he passed away, and I have no experience building aircraft. I'm looking for advice on the best way to go about getting it finished and airworthy given that I am not in a financial position to just pay someone else to do it. Thoughts? Thanks in advance.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    New Hampshire
    You do not say whether you have lots of time to offset your small project budget. I will assume that the airplane has sentimental value, and you have some patience. First J-3's are pretty common so as you try to figure out what is left to do, you should be able to find other airplanes to look at. But first you have to go over your father-in-laws records of the build and figure out what he got done and what is left to do. I assume that there are plans and a builders log with photos. For you, the learning curve starts with reading the FAA Advisory Circulars on home building and certifying an airplane. I am sure that the AC numbers, and maybe a link to them on the FAA web site, are on this EAA web site somewhere. Go over the plans and the existing documentation. You are going to learn how to read plans and paperwork first. And go find your local EAA chapter. The EAA chapter directory lists EAA 339 Chesapeake VA, and EAA 156 Newport News VA. Talk to other builders. Be social. Everyone starts with an empty bucket of knowledge. I think that if you offer to help with other projects, those builders will help you learn the skills that you need. Some skills like welding you can take an evening class on at your local technical vocational school. The Sportair workshops travel through your area and are an opportunity to learn other skills. Get the big book of AC43-13 so that you have the bible of accepted practices for working on airplanes.

    The advantage of having a Cub in front of you is that whenever you are puzzled by something in the plans, you can go look at a flying airplane and see and/or touch to learn how the finished part or sub-assembly works. More excuses for hanging around airports. And if you have kids, have them help. They'll get a big kick out of it.

    Best of luck,


  3. #3
    KDoersom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Central PA
    You can also join is over at There is lot of great people over there with lots of helpful knowledge.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Clarklake, MI
    Have you considered picking up a partner and making a deal? Maybe have them finish the plane in exchange for 1/2 ownership?

    You're in a tough position. Don't let anyone kid you, to finish the plane yourself will require a huge time investment. Not everyone has that luxury. Getting hired assistance will be prohibitively expensive. Just buying what you need to finish the plane will be an eye opener. Hope it works out.

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