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In Civil aviation, there are two main industries for airplane buyers. There is the certified airplane; in which an aircraft goes through different phases, testing and certification process. And there is the experimental airplane; which you buy a kit and build the airplane yourself. I personally have always been fascinated with the idea of building my own flying machine. With an experimental airplane, you have a hand in literally everything that goes into the airplane. You get to pick your own engine, avionics and interior design. That’s freedom on a different level. That said, safety remains the number one factor when it comes to flying and aviation in general. So if you ever decide to go this route, always think of safety first!
In this video I picked out five of the top single engine airplanes that are in the experimental category. Keep in mind that the ranking of these airplanes are based on several factors. Namely: cost, performance, design, comfort and utility. The airplanes listed in this video are:
Lancer evolution - From Lancair. This is one of the fastest kit build airplanes out there. It is also one of the most expensive to build or own. The kit alone starts at over $600,000. A finished airplane will run you anywhere from $1.2 million to $1.5 million. The cost is mostly due to the turbine jet engine that powers this aircraft. We’re talking a lot of horses here. You have three different engine choices of 867HP, 750HP and 550HP. For those who build this airplane, it’s really about speed and how fast they can get to their destination. This airplane will cruise at well over 300 knots, close to 400 miles per hour and it will climb at 4000 feet a minute. Those are performance numbers you typically find in jets.
Glacier III - From Glasair. The Glasair III retractable gear is also one of the fastest single engine airplanes out there. And the Glasair is not only fast, it is also nimble and very sporty. Frankly it takes a lot more pilot skills to fly this bird. This airplane will climb at close to 3000 feet a minute on a normal calm day and it will cruise at close to 300 miles per hour while only burning 13 to 15 gallons of fuel per hour. Talk about fuel efficiency. The Glasair also has a nice roomy cabin for 2. Spacious with more than enough head room for taller people. A complete Glasair III can be bought anywhere from $145,000 - $250,000.
Cubcrafter Xcub - This airplane is built for the absolute nomad or the adventurous pilot. One of the better bush airplanes out there with amazing capabilities and useful load. The Xcub will take off and land in the shortest distance, basically this is an airplane you can fly right out of your backyard; joking. The Xcub model is factory built but you can buy a kit with similar or better performance and build your own airplane. Best thing about the Xcub is the simplicity of flying it. Needless to say that cubcrafters took their time making the interior space very welcoming. A brand new Xcub sells for $317,000 but you can find older models used for much less.
Sling 4 - From The Airplane factory. The sling is one of my personal favorite experimental airplanes. Not only because it is affordable and light, but because it is very cost efficient. Unlike other 4 seater airplanes in the market, the sling 4 only runs on a small 115 hp turbo charged engine. That power output although small, guarantees you very low fuel burn during your flight. The sling 4 only burns about 6 gallons of fuel per hour while traveling 140 miles per hour. This airplane has 4 seats and yes you can put a person on all four seats and still have a good amount of travel range.
Vans RV-10 - In the experimental world, Vans is arguably the king. It has the most airplanes actively flying in the air and also being built. Last I checked, there are well over 10,000 registered vans RV aircrafts. The RV-10 is an amazing 4 seater airplane with great performance. Performance comparable to the Cirrus SR22, a plane that cost nearly four times the price of an RV-10. Unlike the Cirrus though, one of the best feature of the RV-10 is it’s landing capabilities. It has a shorter take off and landing distance, and you can land in unpaved runways. This airplane will cruise at 200 miles per hour, climb rate is 2000 feet a minute and have a useful load of over 1000 pounds. The All that performance and capabilities for only $200,000? talk about a steal.