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3 Tips for Enjoying the Process of Building a Small Plane

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Some projects can be grueling, and it can be tough to stay the course and see it through to the end. Many who undertake building their own small plane begin with a lot of enthusiasm but very little idea of what the project will actually be like. The process can become unpleasant, either boring or frustrating, and many will give up before they're halfway done. But there are some tried and true methods to make the process of building a small plane much more pleasant and enjoyable.

1. Get Creative
One of the biggest problems a beginner builder will run into is that the image they had in their head of what the plane would look like and how it would all come together doesn't match how things turn out in real life. A good way to avoid this, along with many headaches down the road, is to build virtually first, by using a 3D rendering program like X-Plane. This will allow you to plan out your build and see how it looks, and even take it for a virtual flight. Visualizing is a big part of any creative process, so get some coffee, turn on some MSNBC live streaming and let the creative juices flow.

Another great way to prep yourself for the build is to take an online class on plane building or check out a few books from the library. You'll find information on every aspect of plane building, and you'll get some great ideas for your own build, too. Inspiration is important when undertaking a big project, so don't skimp on this preliminary step.

2. Find Connections
You may see this project as a solo endeavor, and maybe you prefer to work alone. But there will always be a point in any build where you just don't know what to do next. Whether it's issues with the kit design or difficulties with materials, nobody has all the answers. It's important for avoiding undue stress halfway through the build that you find a way to connect with other builders.

There are a few great ways to do this, from online forums to local meetups. By having a resource when you run into trouble, you'll be able to stay on track with your build and feel supported along the way. You may even be able to find local members of aircraft associations that can come help you with some of the heavy lifting towards the end of your build. Whatever your problems might be, having the support of fellow builders will be a priceless tool in your belt.

3. Budget Correctly
Even if you're a retiree with plenty of cash to pour into a project like this, there will be some surprise costs during your build that might throw a wrench in the works if you're not prepared. Budgeting for a plane build could involve paying for anything from housing structures to the materials themselves, along with any special software you want and the kit you use, if you choose to use one. Beginners will often buy the kit and raw materials and believe they're all done, but frequently will wind up needing backup parts or towing vehicles that can end up exceeding the original budget.

The other commodity you'll need a lot of during the build is time. If you're working full time and only have building time on weeknights or weekends, it can be tough to realistically project when the build might be completed. Frequently, a build will be abandoned part of the way through because the builder got tired of pushing the deadline forward over and over again. It's important to be realistic about your time, both the time you have available and the time you're actually willing to spend building.

These tips might not include a lot of fun, but by getting these tasks out of the way before you start your build, you'll be more likely to enjoy the process and actually end up with your own home-built plane in the end.

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