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Thread: Best aircraft to build with outdoor storage in mind?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Wakefield, Rhode Island, United States

    Best aircraft to build with outdoor storage in mind?

    Hello All,
    Looking for suggestions on an aircraft to build that meets my requirements:
    -Two place
    -Cheap, $30K or so.
    -Capable of living outside, tied down
    -Flying out of a 2100ft strip.
    -No open cockpit-I'm in New England.
    -4cycle power, no belt redrives
    Hangar space is expensive and tough to find in my area. More importantly, the closest airfield has little hangar space available. Driving an hour to the hangar is not an option. I'm assuming wood, or tube/fabric construction is not going to work. Folding wings MAY get the AC inside sooner, easier to share hangar space when it comes along. Folding the wings and storing at home is a possibility but I've learned from years of boat ownership that having a slip as opposed to trailering means I use the boat much more often.... So metal is likely a better choice. I'm more inclined to lower and slower but I'm not seeing high wing designs in metal that meet my requirements either. Which leads me to Sonex. Seems that a Sonex can be built to plan, mechanical brakes, flaps, basic VFR instrumentation and a VW conversion, will get it done. So, would a Sonex stand up to outdoor tiedown storage? I'm assuming a cockpit cover would be mandatory? I'm not opposed to a full set of covers if they are worth it. Any input is welcome, TIA, RT

  2. #2
    Dana's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    You're not too far from the Richmond, RI airport, where the owner allows people to put up fabric hangars, and there are quite a few of them there. A good active flying community there, too. Even cheaper than a fabric hangar, if you have folding wings, is a small fabric garage.

    I keep my Kolb, wings folded, in an enclosed trailer, at the airport, and pay the outdoor tiedown rate. An added benefit is that I can drag it home whenever I need to work on it, and I take it home for the winter when I'm not flying (it's completely open cockpit, well really no cockpit). I actually had it at Richmond for a few weeks when I first flew it (Richmond, with its surrounding fields, seemed safer than the water surrounded strip in CT I later moved it to once I got comfortable with the plane).
    Last edited by Dana; 11-17-2011 at 07:19 AM.

  3. #3
    Murphy Rebel is a high wing design that can be found for decent prices. It is an all metal (except for the flaperons) high wing STOL type plane. They are very roomy and well built bush style plane. The plane can be engined with anything from the Rotax 912 all they way up to the O-320 Lyc.
    I own both fabric and metal planes and definitely prefer the metal if I need to keep it outside. Newer fabrics though will last a long time even when kept outside. My Champ was covered nearly 20 years ago and still looks pretty good. It was kept outside since recover until I bought it about 5 years ago. I kept it outside on floats but did hangar it during the winters.

  4. #4
    Eric Witherspoon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Tucson, AZ
    As a Sonex builder/operator, once you put in the time it takes to build it, you very well might not be able to bring yourself to keep it outside. Though if you are asking from the standpoint of buying one, yes, several Sonex are stored outside. One owner/builder worked with - Bruce? (one of the custom cover manufacturers) to do a full-airframe set of covers, so full-airframe covers are available. In any case, a canopy cover would be needed, as the canopy is not designed to be water / weather tight. Then there's the 5000 or so blind rivets, each with a hole right down the middle to let water into the innards of the airplane. (I'd say 10000, but ~half of them are on the bottom surfaces.) Could very well be the surface tension of water won't let it go through a blind rivet, but I haven't tested my airplane for H20 exposure.

    For that price range, you're looking at Aerovee power, so the engine would meet your requirements. But to answer your overall question, yes, Sonex should be able to survive outdoor storage ok. The 6061 that it is made of is the same stuff used to build boats. So it's pretty corrosion-resistant - more so than 2024 alclad designs, and I would guess most Sonex are not complete-airframe-painted (saves money and 15-30+ pounds of payload!). If you wanted to take it one step farther, either paint or buy a painted Sonex. If the rivet stem-holes are filled as part of the painting process, it would be as durable as any production airplane stored outside.
    Murphy's 13th: Every solution breeds new problems...

  5. #5
    EAA Staff
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Oshkosh, WI
    Zenith Aircraft comes to mind also:

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