Thursday, January 31, 2008


While waiting for my first section of materials to arrive, I started working on a practice airfoil section with materials from my starter kit. The section was made by hot-wiring a foam core into the desired shape with the help of Julia. After sanding the foam and patching a few small holes, I glassed the bottom first:

After giving the bottom section a day to cure, I glassed the top. After another day of curing I sanded everything down for the finished section:

The section is far from perfect (notice the 2 large air bubbles on the leading edge) and not 100% "finished" in terms of sanding, but I certainly learned a good deal. Had this been an actual section I would have had to throw it out. Not because of the air bubbles which could be repaired, but because of a mistake I made while glassing the top of the section.

After I finished the spar (dark section running lengthwise across the airfoil - provides strength) and 2 of the 4 plys, my remaining epoxy quite suddenly developed a solid chunk in it. Instead of mixing new epoxy, my only thought was to get the remaining liquid epoxy on my 3rd ply of fiberglass. I was able to get the ply wetted out and place on the final ply before it started getting solid, but I'm pretty sure that that was not the best way to go about it. Still, a good learning experience. I should receive the first section tomorrow and start working on Monday or Tuesday night.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Work Bench is Done

I just finished the work surface tonight. I still want to add a couple of things like a pegboard, drawers under the lower shelves, and a 1 foot extension attached to the front by hinges to give me three feet of working space. Right now, it's 11 x 2.

I ended up making two 5 1/2 foot sections so that I can either have an "L" shaped bench or move them side by side and get them out of the way if I need the work area for something like bringing in my truck (or at least the cab) in case of a storm. It splits in a kind of offset manner with one board section longer than the other, like so:

I'd like to say that I had some sort of really neat reason for doing it this way, but the fact of the matter is that I hadn't thought about the extra inches that the two by fours at the ends of the table would add on to the frame. rather then make my table longer than 11 feet, I just made the other table a bit smaller and took the 2x4's into consideration on that one.

On thing that I did do on purpose was by some nice 1/2" plywood for the table, and then cover it up with cheap 1/4" plywood. The aircraft plans suggested this so that when you destroy the table finish, you can just remove it and put a new one on pretty easily.

Hopefully I'll soon have some interesting work going instead of prep stuff, but for now this will do.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The work space

I'll be building my Cozy in the garage of our house. A co-worker recently asked me when exactly a garage became a hanger since it had an aircraft inside. After much discussion(it was a slow night), we decided that it could be called a hanger once a recognizable aircraft design had been created. This does not necessarily include wings but there must be an aircraft type fuselage present. Hopefully I may soon call it a "hangerage" since there will still be a car parked beside the aircraft.

As you can see, much work must still be done before I start work on the actual aircraft. You can see the "workbench" is still in the design phase. I'll also need a cutting and storage area for my fiberglass cloth as well as a plan to get rid of the rest of the stuff on the right side of the picture although I'd like to keep the weight bench somewhere usable. On the right you'll also see a very nice work surface for my miter saw that my parents got me for Christmas. I put it together the other night and completely forgot about it as I started cutting boards. What was I doing squatting to cut wood at 2 in the morning?! Also, while it might seem great to have all sorts of free time to work at night, I've realized that power tools are loud. REALLY loud. Especially after 10pm. I think I'll have to do my power tool stuff before then, or risk the ire of my neighbors and the visit of the cops.

The aircraft

As I stated, my wife got me the plans for a Cozy MK IV for Christmas. The plans come in two sections with cutout layouts and several updates. It is a composite aircraft built of foam, fiberglass, wood, and aluminum. I worked a lot over December as there was a great deal of OT available at FlexJet, and have just now really started to look over the plans. For those of you who may be interested in specs, the aircraft is a four place (read seat), pusher (prop in the back) type, canard (elevator in the front) aircraft. Exact published specs are:

Engine--- Lycoming O-360 180 hp.
Wing Span: 28.1 ft
Take-off solo/gross: 1200/1700 ft.
Wing area: 88.3 ft2
Climb solo/gross: 2000/1200 fpm
Canard Span: 12.6 ft
Cruise 75% 8000 ft.: 220 mph
Canard Area: 14.7 ft2
Cruise 40% 12000 ft.: 185 mph
Length: 16.9 ft
Max. range 75%: 1000 mi
Height: 7.9 ft
Max. range 40%: 1300 mi.
Cabin W/H: 42/39
Ceiling: 20,000+ ft.
Max. front seat: 400 lbs.
Ldg.Dist.solo/gross: 1000/1300 ft.
Empty wt.: 1050 lbs.
Gross wt.: 2050

These figures may not mean much to a lot of you, but for me they're exactly what I'm looking for in an aircraft. Range, speed, and payload. While it's a four place aircraft, I understand that maybe the back two seats are intended for people of reduced stature and weight. All that for the cost of a nice car!

The Purpose

I'm starting this blog to serve as a record for my work on a Cozy MK IV aircraft. The project should take me anywhere from 3 - 7 years, and I'm hoping for somewhere in the 5 year range.

I decided to build my own aircraft for several reasons.

First, I realized that renting aircraft has become more and more cost prohibitive.
When I started flying in '98, I could rent an aircraft for about $65 an hour, but currently it is closer to $120 an hour. That's near a %100 increase in cost over the course of 10 years. The only kind of flying I can do at that kind of cost is just enough to keep me current (which, looking at my log book - I realize I really need to go get in the air for a couple of hours soon). That isn't flying, that's just enough to to stave off ground fever (It's a lot like cabin fever, but you end up getting crazy ideas about how to get back into the air and GO somewhere instead of practicing a couple of stalls and chandelles and then doing 13 touch-and-go's like: "if I work an extra month worth of overtime, I could fly to Boston in the fall" or, "I'll build my OWN airplane and forget those FBO rentals!").

So, then one starts to look at the cost of buying and owning a new or used aircraft. A new aircraft is just out of my league, and I don't know that I'd really be happy with what I could afford even on the used market. Why blow 40 grand on an aircraft that can barely travel faster than highway speeds and is on its last legs?

I then had several conversations with people about the idea of building an aircraft, but I thought that there would be no way that I could afford or build a good aircraft. The thought however, continued to nag at my mind so I began to research the different aircraft kits and plans. Almost immediately I ran into the Cozy MK IV and was quite enamoured with it. Although I continued searching, I always kept going back to the aircraft and looking over its specs, time to build, and cost.

After deciding that if I was going to build an aircraft it would be a Cozy, I approached my wife with the idea. Expecting instant rejection or great trepidation on her part, she (once again) amazed me by saying OK. Flat out, she accepted my idea. Of course she wanted more info ("where will you build it?, "how long will it take?", "how much will it cost?... Now where will you build it?... the garage?... Can you do that?!... OK, as long as I can still park on my side of the garage") but really came around to the idea very quickly and even bought me the plans for my Christmas present!

In the bigger picture, I feel that building your own aircraft really gets back to the true spirit and passion of aviation. Law suits almost destroyed the General Aviation(GA) world back in the 80's, and I don't think that it ever really fully recovered. Clinton helped some (can't believe I wrote that!) with some reforms to product liability on aircraft, but still it has become a world in which an average working class Joe such as myself simply cannot afford to purchase a factory built aircraft unless they make some serious concessions in regards to the rest of their life. GA is dying in the US, and I truly believe that it will by the experimentals that help too keep it alive and innovative new aircraft continue to be developed. Aside from the cost and sappy spirit of aviation stuff, I think that it's going to be a blast to work on. I think at least 50% of the joy will come in the creation of the Cozy, with another 50% in the flying once done.