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The Future Of Home Building Biplanes We So Love

Dave Baxter

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Not really sure where to start. I have bemoaned the fact that it seems so few these days are interested in building these airplanes ones that have so inspired us. Like I said in the past the Biplane Forum is in my opinion the last vestige of the true home builder. It seems these days no one is interested anymore with the exception of the forum in learning to weld or do wood work, much less covering or engine installation. In the past when attending numerous fly-ins I have had at least a half dozen people stop by and chat that they were ether building one of these biplanes or at least asked about doing so. However over the last half dozen years almost no one has approached me to chat about their project or ask about building one.
I think part is the changing dynamics of pilots and what they want as well as ones ability to do this. Most cannot build in a tract home anymore for all the well known reasons, even if they have the ability and the tools to do so.

But the real subtle and ominous thing that has been happening lately is the parts and material availability which is kind of what inspired the post. Its been difficult and time consuming the last several yrs to get good straight grain spruce, that was once abundant, much less the recent posts about 4130 tubing especially oddball stuff like streamline. But its not just that, my engine guy told me several months ago that Lycoming was out new cylinders, and projected to have them available this time next year! I had some issues with my radio, and sent it to the mfg for repair, and thought I might just buy another one as a replacement or back up, and when inquiring said he cannot get many of the the componet parts he needs until well into next year to build his radios. Even the difference from 2007 to 2018 buying two of the same things, one for my sons airplane that in 2007 cost X dollars, and in 2018 to buy the same parts for my single place was over twice what it cost back then! Of course its my opinion that all of the funny money put into the system is certainly part of it, and also the closing of so many small businesses the last several years and the unintended long term consequences are all starting to become a much bigger problem that I think will make building these airplanes a real challenge, and also rebuilding an existing one in the future will be every bit if not more challenging!

However it is quite wonderful and refreshing to see the Kiwi guy from the UK do what he has done in such a short period of time and under every bit if not more restrictive difficult and costly circumstances one faces to do especially in the UK. I am impressed and commend him for doing so. This leads me to believe it is still possible, and I hope the ability and material available will get better in the near future.... Dave
 

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