Affordable Flying — Get Aloft For $10K Or Less


If you’re a creative scrounger — like Tracy Buttles, an EAA’er from Appleton, Wisconsin — you might be able to build yourself a sweet little two-seat taildragger for $6,500, like he did. “A friend of mine had some extra fabric laying around,” says Buttles, who has the airplane on display here at EAA AirVenture this week. “The tail feathers I got for $50 apiece, and we have a flat windscreen, so that was $40.” The prop, however, is his only on loan, and a little smaller than would be ideal. But Buttles is proud that he can fly around for fun on under five gallons per hour, and help to keep GA alive at the little airports around the country. That’s the same goal shared by EAA at the nearby Affordable Flying Center, where staffers answer questions all day long about the various affordable aircraft on display. They’re showing an Alatus-M ultralight motorglider, which sells for under $30,000; a Pietenpol Air Camper, that you can build from plans or find used for under $10,000; or a Sonerai II, which sells for about $15,000. Take on a partner, and your costs are cut in half. The Center, which is new this year, has a full slate of forums this week on topics like fuel efficiency, FAQ for buying LSAs, and how to own an airplane for less than the cost of your cellphone.

EAA’s Ron Wagner said response to the Center has been positive. “We’re trying to show that you don’t have to be wealthy to enjoy flying,” he told AVweb. “Folks come by and say they’re glad to see us promoting this, and the forums have been well-attended. I hope we can continue this next year, and do it even bigger and better.”