June 2009 Issue
Buying Used Homebuilts: A Few Right Choices
On paper, experimental aircraft offer more performance for less money. But a close look uncovers several reasons they arenít for everyone.
The claims sound almost too good to be true. A Lancair IV-P offers 270 knots on 24 GPH or a 1500-mile range with reserves. A Murphy Moose hauls 1300 pounds of cargo and 80 gallons of fuel out of 1000-foot strips and climbs 900 FPM. A nearly-new Epic LT six-seat turboprop can be yours for $300,000 less than a mid-time TBM 700. But unless youíre a resourceful and patient type who enjoys the challenge of wrangling maintenance issues or flying an aircraft that demands top-notch piloting technique, you can stop reading here. The designers of kit aircraft didnít repeal the laws of economics or physics. Squeezing out more performance at lower cost comes at a price somewhere else. If youíre just looking for a faster or cheaper ride, the tradeoff probably isnít worth the gain. If tinkering appeals to you, then you need to ask yourself two questions: How much docile handling are you willing to trade for maximizing speed or STOL performance? How willing are you to assume the risks and additional oversight that comes with an aircraft built by an amateur?
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