I built quite a few model aeroplanes as a kid. Mostly Airfix kits, and one made from scratch out of balsa wood that actually flew, powered by a small and very noisy engine. I’ll never forget the excitement, the sense of achievement I felt watching that little plane take to the sky for the first time. Now, multiply that feeling by at least a hundred, and that’s what it must be like to build your own real-life aircraft, one you can fly yourself and go places in.
Home built aircraft, or kit planes, are very popular in Australia – lower purchase prices and operating costs are a key factor. But many owners will tell you one of the big attractions was the challenge of building it themselves. There are more than 100 different types of home-built aircraft flying in Australia, and there’s more on the way. One of the best known is the Jabiru – made in Bundaberg, the home of Australian aviation pioneer Bert Hinkler.
You buy the aircraft in kit form and build it at your own pace. Cairns pilot John Martin took 1400 hours. Once you’ve got it registered and you have your pilot licence, you’re ready to fly.
Home built aircraft owners are represented by the Sport Aircraft Association of Australia. Its Cairns chapter is having an information night next Thursday July 4 in Cairns for people thinking of buying or building a home built or kit plane. You’ll hear from people who’ve done it successfully, get the chance to ask questions and find out if it’s for you. The information session starts at 7pm at the North Queensland Aero Club
John Martin and Martin Boyle talk about building and flying their own planes.