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Thread: Glasair III advice

  1. #1

    Glasair III advice

    Newbie here looking to enter into the experimental airplane a book called Kit Airplane Construction and poked around with some internet research, so I consider myself on the high end of clueless (before the book I was hopeless). That said, friend of a friend has a Glasair III in the box that I am considering purchasing. Started my search for a 4 seater with some speed, and have been studying the RAI-6 but there is little info on them. This Glasair is obviously a two seater but it has the speed I am looking for...I'd be looking for some legs too for ccx mission mostly. So I would appreciate any advice on how to approach this Glasair in a box...I have reached out to Glasair via the web and phone but no luck.
    Last edited by Osprey Rom; 01-25-2017 at 05:41 PM.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    New Hampshire
    Start out by assessing your pilot skill level and experience, and then call an insurance company and ask about coverage. The III is high end performance and requires high end skills. Your brain has to be ready to be ahead of a 250mph airplane that comes down final at perhaps 50% faster than you might be used to. And they are not roomy inside.

    We have one locally and I understand the owner has trouble staying ahead of the airplane. Always takes a second pilot.

    But first find out whether you are insurable in the airplane.

    Best of luck,


  3. #3
    Thanks Wes, have not looked into the insurance piece yet...I'm a pilot by trade, but your points on the performance of the plane well taken...truthfully the only reason the III popped for me was a potential great deal...I'm sure another will come along. In any case, I'll seek one out so I can at least get eyes on...


  4. #4

    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    New Hampshire
    If you are relatively high time and have hours in twins and turboprops, you might not find the insurance a barrier. A few years ago there were some crashes of Glasair III and Lancair IV early in their flight test periods that got the insurance companies wary of the risk. Locally we had a new Lancair IV owner who was behind the airplane for many hours and I believe finally parked it. The local Glasair III does not fly much. But both of these owners are recreational pilots facing the most performance they have ever seen, not members of the working pilot community who fly higher performance every day. Which is not to say a recreational guy can't fly these machines but it means upping their game every flight, not a comfortable place for everyone.

    And one way the Glasair's get their speed is by being relatively small. If you are comfortable in a C-150 with another person the fit of the Glasairs will be fine. If not....

    Best of luck,


  5. #5

    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    So here we have a professional pilot asking for advice on buying a secondhand kit and gets 2 responses on how scary planes are to fly

    To answer the question Osprey, a secondhand unfinished kit could be disastrous for a first time builder. Assuming you are getting a great deal on it and have the money to throw away, here is what the process would look like:

    1. You need to do a full inventory on every piece in the box. This means having the original packing slip from Glasair for this exact kit and counting and checking that every single individual piece is there. A huge undertaking.
    2. You need to make sure that none of the parts have been damaged, corroded, etc.
    3. If anything has already been assembled, you need to determine if this has been done properly. As a first time builder you're going to need help doing this, and I'm not sure if there is any way to definitively determine the quality of a fiberglass part.

    Couple examples:

    A friend of mine got a great deal on a "complete" RV-6 kit that had gone through 2 owners before getting to him. Of what was already assembled, most of it had to be redone. Various parts were missing or had been sourced from somewhere other than Van's. The fiberglass wing tips looked very good and had tip tanks installed, but did not fit the wing. That canopy was so brittle with age that despite great care cracked during installation and a new one had to be purchased. The cowl was a monumental undertaking to make fit. This was my friend's 5th RV but was by 2 years the longest build. In the end the "great deal" cost as much as a new kit and took 3 times as long to finish.

    I picked up a "complete aircraft" in Alaska for a friend. The aircraft had supposedly already flown but the builder died and the aircraft was in a crate and sold cheap to pay for outstanding storage. Parts missing included the entire exhaust system and an amazing amount of hardware. The fuse was damaged and in the end the aircraft was parted out rather than attempt to put it back together again.

    I believe Glasair has a builder assist program? I'd look into that.
    Last edited by ahramin; 01-26-2017 at 04:58 PM.

  6. #6
    Well I'm very appreciative of all of these replies...plenty to consider and yes, my biggest fear is purchasing a "new" kit with components that I cannot use. I do trust the source, but I gotta work through some of these points you bring up. What I was targeting was a 4 seater that cruises at 220kts+. I'm gonna research some of these mishaps...I'm guessing most had to do with low-level aerobatics. Still waiting to hear back from the Glasair folks...

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Tehachapi, CA
    Quote Originally Posted by Osprey Rom View Post
    What I was targeting was a 4 seater that cruises at 220kts+...
    These are few and far between. Pretty much the Lancair IVP (which has a terrible safety record), the Velocity TXL, and a couple of other outliers that have very few flying.

    What's your mission? Why do you want a 4 seater? Why are you looking for 220 KTAS (other than the obvious "faster is better")? How much do you want to spend on the plane, and how much to operate it?

    I fly a COZY MKIV. It cost me about $75K to build, and you can buy a flying one for $50K - $100K, depending upon how nice you want it to be. I figure $90 - $100/hr operating costs, including everything - all fixed and variable costs, as well as engine fund. I cruise at 165 KTAS anywhere between 6K - 17K ft. MSL, and get better gas mileage than my Subaru Outback, going 3 times as fast. I can make it from KTSP (CA) to KOSH in daylight with one stop, and have flown 1K NM legs at cruise speed - could be 1200 - 1300 NM if I wanted to slow down and live in the plane.

    I have family back east and would LOVE to have a plane that could get me from CA to NJ or MA in daylight with one or two stops, and that requires about 230 KTAS cruise speed. But in order to get that, I'd need to spend about 4X as much on the plane and at least 4X as much in operating costs. Not worth it for one trip/year. For 95% of MY missions, 165 KTAS is completely adequate.

    Hope this gives some reference points...

  8. #8
    cub builder's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    North Central AR
    FWIW, I've bought three abandoned projects and completed all three. In every case, I was time and money ahead by shopping for a partial project, but it does have to be the right project. The GlassAir III is a heck of a performer. Take an experienced GlasAir Builder with you to inspect the project. Composite work is not difficult and an experienced builder will be able to spot quality work vs shoddy work in a heartbeat. It's just another learned skill that seems to scare sheet metal builders. Working with VinylEster resins used in the GlassAir line is a bit different from the Epoxy resins, but once you really learn how to promote and catalyze the resin to do what you want, you'll find that it can be more versatile than epoxy based resins.

    I have maintained a couple of GlassAirs for customers. Overall, I like the design, although the ingress and egress is a bit tight for me. The fuel system has some issues you need to really think through. (One customer wrecked his GlassAir thanks to his lack of understanding of the fuel system). The wing tip extensions/tanks are usually a desirable feature, although the feed from and venting of the tip tanks can be problematic. The GlassAir line typically leaves a lot of empty space between the passenger compartment and the firewall, then has the engine crammed so tight to the firewall it makes a Mooney look really spacious to work on behind the engine. But overall, I still think they are a heck of a plane.

    Good luck with your decision.

    -Cub Builder

  9. #9
    Auburntsts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Dumfries, VA
    Well going back to your original criteria, a 4-place with some speed, have you considered an RV-10? It has good all around performance: true 4-adult plane, 160-170kt cruise, docile handling characteristics, great IFR platform, descent range, and a very well put together kit. Plus you get great factory support and a builder community second to none. Check out the builder community website Van's Air Force (VAF) to learn more.
    Todd Stovall
    PP ASEL - IA
    RV-10 N728TT - Flying
    My builder's log (which is woefully out of date):

  10. #10
    Thanks. Supposedly the Glasair is "still in the box" but has been sitting for 10 yrs. Would be concerned about expiration on some components but I have no reference point. Starting to lean away from this for the space reasons you mention.

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