September 19, 2014
At a recent fly-in (into which I drove... oh, the indignity), I saw something special: a realy, honest, airworthy Affordaplane. For those not aware -- and who can blame you? -- the Affordaplane is an airplane for those who are even poorer than I am. You can build it for a couple of thousand dollars in materials, if you're handy enough and know your local hardware stores well. You need another two grand for an engine, but still, it's purposefuly designed to be an astonishing bargain, and extremely easy to build from scratch. By comparison, my own Carlson costs at least $9,000 to build and uses a $6,900 engine. Its core is a factory-welded space frame, that is quite challenging to make and requires special jigs. But to build Affordaplane, you only need a large workshop table, and know how to drill neat holes in aluminum. Note how its fuselage is actually a 2-dimensional frame.
It's a fantastic flying machine for those who love aviation, but cannot afford its more conventional formats. I heard it flies quite decently, too. Of course, cross-countries in Affordaplane are even more challenging than in Carlson. At my estimate, its range should be limited to 40 nautical miles. Maybe 50 with larger tanks. So it basically has limitations of a Part 103 ultralight.
Speaking of which, the cheapest factory-built ultralights come in at about $18,000..20,000 nowadays (my favourite is Aerolite 103). Building your own Affordaplane not only lets you have it cheaper, but also add larger tanks and engines. My home base is 5000 ft MSL and therefore most legal ultralights simply cannot get off the ground. The example in the photo, however, flies quite a bit.
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