Sonex #1284

Being built by Mike Kelley—Lake Oswego, OR

I’ve wanted to build a plane all my life. My wife gave me flying lessons for my 30th birthday, and I soloed 30 days later in a ‘72 Cessna 150. It took about 6 months to receive my PPL, but that was back in 1987.

Along the way I’ve been a partner in a ‘75 Grumman (American General) Tiger, and owned outright a ‘64 Mooney 20E. So, most of my time through the years has been in low-wing, high-performance metal aircraft.

Why Sonex?
I’d looked at kit planes for 20 years and annually made the pilgrimage to Oshkosh.  Like a lot of pilots, I dreamed of building & flying BD-5’s, Wheeler Express’s, Glasair/Lancair’s, and RV’s. I wanted a 4-seater, 200+mph, full IFR, easy-to-build kit and I wanted to pay between $10-20K everything included!

In 2008, when I revisited my requirements, both my teenage sons had expressed an interest in learning to fly, my wife didn’t enjoy small planes, and I had a more realistic view of “the mission”. This time my new list included these:

             1) Affordable fun

             2) Putting “holes-in-the-sky” and short legged VFR flights

             3) Mild (+G) aerobatics

             4) Metal construction

             5) 2-seater (side-by-side or tandem with dual controls)

             6) Wide speed envelope with a fairly low stall speed

             7) Easy to fly (easy to land!)

             8) Buildable in less than 2 years with basic tools

             9) Popular, with wide builder support

             10) Did I mention affordable?

My decision came down to the Zenith Zodiac, Van’s RV, or the Sonex.

My rankings:

             1)Cost                 - 1) Sonex,   2) Zenith,   3) Vans

             2)Support            - 1) Vans,    2) Sonex,   3) Zenith

             3)Performance     -1) Vans/Sonex,           3) Zenith

             4)Economy           -1) Sonex,   2)Zenith,   3) Vans

             5)Safety Record   -1) Sonex,   2) Vans,    3) Zenith

In my opinion, Sonex was 1st in 4-of-the-5 categories that mattered to me. I’m local to Portland, Oregon so there was a lot of pressure to build an RV. But there are a lot of very expensive RV’s around here, and I wanted to do something different.


Sonex it is!  I ordered the kit in February ‘09, and it was delivered on April 1. 2009 (April Fool’s Day...).  Onward we go!


Building Sonex #1284

Sonex #1284

Being built by Mike Kelley—Lake Oswego, OR

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