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Thread: I don't want an Experimental anyway...

  1. #1
    Eric Witherspoon's Avatar
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    I don't want an Experimental anyway...

    This whole government-selected word "Experimental" - remember that doesn't mean my airplane is an experiment, it means it is marked per a government-established requirement. Since when do we believe the government does everything right, much less something so subtle as accurately labeling my custom-built exact replica of a proven, flight-tested design? I prefer the label "custom-built exact replica of a proven, flight-tested design", but those aren't the words I'm allowed to use. I'm no experimenter. I want to KNOW it will work before I go up. That's for darned sure.

    Then there are "the experimenters", who want to design-their-own, extensively modify a design, try a "new type" of engine - whatever. Those are experiments. Great work. Carry on. Discover new things. That I can then either purchase or duplicate...

    Ok, so where does that leave this category that I believe most of us custom-builders of exact replicas are building? Is there a snappy, 1-2 word, ~15 character max "label" that we would prefer our airplanes be required to carry?

    I'm feeling the need for a distinction after reading too many posts that contain the phrase "that's why they call it experimental". No, mine's not. My wife and family won't stand for me doing experiments at thousands of feet above the ground at 100+ mph. I actually had that conversation - they don't want me building any design that isn't already proven.
    Murphy's 13th: Every solution breeds new problems...

    http://www.spoonworld.com

  2. #2

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    I think you're looking for "Amateur Built" as the description.

    The E-LSA's where one can't deviate on anything - up to where stuff goes on the panel - definately fall into what you're describing.

    There is a pretty big area between the extreme of completely new design and the other of E-LSA, though. For example, my plane is from a tested, proven design - and in the vast majority of cases I'm following the letter of the plans. But in some important ways I'm deviating, such as putting in a rudder bar instead of pedals. The panel layout isn't in the plans at all; it's left up to me. Ditto the seat and harness. There are no brakes on the plane as designed, but I'm putting them on, since I'll be operating on pavement and not just grass.

    One could argue that I am experimenting with the design....
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  3. #3
    Chad Jensen's Avatar
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    I am trying to get caught up on my Uncontrolled Airspace podcast's, and while I was out to lunch today listening to an episode from late August, this is exactly what they were talking about. Funny coincidence...
    Chad Jensen
    EAA #755575

  4. #4

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    Eric, it is pretty simple. The govt, via FAA licenses airplanes. If the manufacturer goes through all the steps that FAA has for design and flight testing successfully , then it is normal airplane category.
    If not, then is is experimental.
    Now, you or your family may think your plane that you build is superior, even safer, ( maybe not safer in fact) but if the designer/builder did not do all the FAA tests then it is basically not proven as a factory produced plane is.
    Doesn't have to be a one off or strange new Rutan design. There were something like 30,000 Yak and 25,000 Me fighters built, certainly proven designs. But not proven to FAA standards, for instance won't meet the 61 knot stall speed requirment.
    A Cessna 172 may be a bit on the boring side, but it has a pretty good safety record. Cessna did the testing and proved it before sale.
    The FAA allows a few exceptions, like Cirrus which could not meet the stall/spin recovery test specs, but was allowed to get by with the parachute system.

    And if you are going to do any testing(experimenting) much better to do it at "thousands of feet above the ground", than down low. Hard to recover from a stall/spin at 50 feet, you have a chance if you have altitude in your favor. And test pilots usually wear parachutes, but need altutude for them to be much help.
    Last edited by Bill Greenwood; 10-21-2011 at 05:12 PM.

  5. #5
    Pat_Panzera's Avatar
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    Like Bill said, the exact copy you've created is a copy of an experimental aircraft, so how could it ever be considered anything else?... save a homebuilt or amateur-built copy of an experimental aircraft.

  6. #6
    Eric Witherspoon's Avatar
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    You guys are no fun. I'm not asking the government to change their word. I'm not arguing that I don't have to do Phase I or something because it's such a great replica of a homebuilt someone else tested that I should be able to just jump in and go.

    Think of it more along the lines of doing a Young Eagles event. Members of the general public don't want to submit their children to flights in "Experiments". If we had a more appealing word, the whole thing might be more attractive to people.

    Think "Personal Watercraft", "Side-by-side", "Quad", "Ski Boat", "Bass Boat", "Cruiser", "Crotch Rocket", "Hot Rod", "Street Rod", "Custom", "Muscle Car", "Lowrider". Doesn't all of that sound better than "Experimental Airplane" or "Homebuilt"??? You ask people what they spend their leisure dollars on, and they say "Sand Rail", "Toy Hauler", "Monster Truck", and "Double-Cab Dually". They don't say "Experiments". Brings up connotations of Frankenstein's monster and basements full of torture equipment. Not fun and enjoyment.

    Now, does anyone have any imagination? Or are we all so literal we'll just watch this whole homebuilt thing be sucked up by the attractions of all of the things in the above paragraph. I'm about ready sell my Experimental Amateur-Built to buy my Double-Cab Dually to pull my Toy Hauler full of some Quads and a Side-by-Side.
    Murphy's 13th: Every solution breeds new problems...

    http://www.spoonworld.com

  7. #7

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    Eric, I have flown a number of Young Eagle flights in both experimental and standard category planes, and other pilots have also at the same events
    I have done the same thing for my Son's school class, as well as my other Son's Cub Scout troop.
    I have never heard a parent or a child, or a pilot ever ask or even comment on a plane being experimental.
    They were all anxious to go and grateful to ride/fly.
    I never once met a parent who would not let their child go. The class and scout ones were flown in a J-3 Cub. I did have one boy, about 9 years old who was afraid himself.
    When we had time and room, we also took many of the parents flying also.
    I don't even know how a parent would know it is experimental, there is usually only a small notice on the dash.

    Of course, when you are flying a child, you use the utmost care and safety.

  8. #8

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    If amateur aircraft didn't look so good we could get away with euphamisms that get used on terrestrial vehicles. When some guy puts a Dodge Dart body on a Bronco frame that's lifted three feet everyone knows it's not standard.

    But amateur built aircraft usually don't look any different from spam cans to the uneducated eye.

    Would I let my kid ride in an amateur built aircraft at an EAA sponsored event? Yep, without a concern. Do I think that somebody else should know that they're about to put their kid in an airplane built in a garage? Sure.

    When cars or boats break down they usually just roll to a stop. Not so airplanes.
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  9. #9

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    plan on the gov to screw it up if they are involved.
    Ed DArcy 'Turbo'
    R-44 N7511G 1,000 hrs / RV-6 N26ED 4,200 hrs / gyro N46ED 50 hrs
    Stuart, FL Hartford,Ct Virgin Gorda, BVI

  10. #10

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    How about "non-certified" not very catchy but does not imply something dangerous to the uneducated. I tell people it is a category of aircraft that the FAA needs to define. Like the originator of this thread I don't wish to experiment with my aircraft. I prefer "proven" when it comes to my flying but I do enjoy the superior performance and the satisfaction from building my own aircraft. However, there are those aircraft which should have a warning to would be passengers. Some of the engine choices come to my mind. I believe everyone should have the right to fly behind what ever engine they want, but a passenger should probably have some understanding of the failure rate with some auto engine conversions. Passengers often blindly trust their pilot to make all the decisions regarding the safety of flight and if they understood the statistics they might not want to fly with some pilots. How else does the FAA warn these would be passengers?Todd

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