Scratch Building A Sonex Airplane

“A word grows to a thought; a thought to an idea; an idea to an act. All the pieces are put together, and the whole is yours.”
1942, Beryl Markham: “West With the Night”

“Very few people worldwide can say that they’ve built an airplane. Therefore, any home-brewed airplane says something wildly positive about the builder, and all builders should be proud of the accomplishment.”
Budd Davisson: December 2011 EAA Sport Aviation Magazine.

(Quick Link To; “Construction Journal” )

I am not the typical experimental airplane builder.  I have come to that conclusion after reading the web sites, and blogs of other home-built aircraft builders.  I don’t have the same background, dreams, or passion that most other builders have, when they began assembling their factory produced kits, or scratch building their airplanes.

It appears, and makes sense that, nearly all experimental airplane owners and builders have a history of aviation to themselves, and in their families.  I do not.  My father is not a pilot, nor was my mother.  Neither parent had a desire to learn how to fly a single engine airplane, or aspire to hold a private pilot’s certificate.  To the best of my knowledge, there are no pilots, or “aviation buffs”, on either side of my family tree, as far back as you can go!  There were no trips to the local airport for me, as a child, to watch airplanes takeoff, or land; instilling the dream of myself one day piloting an airplane, or building one.

One year ago, in late November of 2010, I did not know what the differences were between a “high wing” airplane, and a “low wing” airplane.  I could not have told anyone what a horizontal elevator was.  Or, what a flap, an aileron, or a vertical stabilizer were.  I did not know what the differences were between a “tricycle”, or a tailwheel landing gear equipped airplane were, or what they looked like!

Through the encouragement of a close friend of mine, I decided to step out on a new adventure; to discover the answers to the questions that I wanted to learn about, piston engine, light aircraft, and flying them.

As with all of the other things I have done, and accomplished in my life, the process of scratch building an airplane, and learning to fly it, is framed in the context of an adventure. It is an adventure of learning new skills and gaining new knowledge.  It is an adventure of stretching skills that I already possess to new levels, and stretching the knowledge that I have gained through previous adventures.  It will also be an adventure of meeting new people, building relationships, and making new friends.

Scratch building a Sonex airplane is a vehicle, (quite literally!), to take me on a new journey  of learning new skill sets that I can add to my life, meeting new people, learning more about myself, and learning more about the world that I live in.  It is these things that I have always been passionate about in my life: Learning new things; creating something, or doing something new with that knowledge; and, meeting new people along the journey.

The dream is to: Build an airplane; learn to fly the airplane; retrace many of the 100,000 miles I have ridden over the past five years, on my adventure motorcycle, to gain experience; then ultimately, fly my Sonex to the native villages of the Eastern Cree, located in the James Bay Region of Québec, Canada.

I realize that this is a nearly impossible dream to achieve!  But, I know that I won’t succeed at these goals if I never take a step on the path that connects them all together.

I have already begun this new adventure, (See, “Construction Journal“). And, I will do my best to share as much of the journey as I can, here on this blog.


Barry Buchanan                                                                                                               December 2011                                                                                                                 Mount Desert Island, Maine

“It takes a while to discover that this life is somewhat short of paradise. For there is, as in all pursuits of mankind, no true ideal or even near perfection.”
Eanest K. Gann: “Fate Is The Hunter”.