How to build an airplane (with pictures)

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How to build an airplane (with pictures)
How to build an airplane (with pictures)

For some people, building and flying their own aircraft is a very satisfying personal experience. Building your plane is legal in most countries, and you don't need any skills to get started. Start by buying a kit online and get involved in aviation organizations. Once construction is done, register the plane with the government aviation board. Then, you can enjoy and soar through the sky in a personalized plane to your liking. This article will teach you how to build a full-scale airplane. To build a model airplane, check out other wikiHow articles.


Part 1 of 3: Build the Plane

Build an Airplane Step 1
Build an Airplane Step 1

Step 1. Find out about local regulations related to aircraft construction

In many countries, building your own plane is legal. Generally, you won't need a pilot's license until you're ready to fly it. All you have to do is buy the materials and start working.

  • For example, in the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration regulates aspects of aviation.
  • Be aware of the building rules. For example, the Federal Aviation Administration requires that 51% of the aircraft be built on its own. To check this, make a log book with photos and videos of your work.
Build an Airplane Step 2
Build an Airplane Step 2

Step 2. Find a place to build the plane

Many builders choose the garage, basement, or other space in the house. Keep in mind that you will need a lot of space to store an airplane and its parts. It's a good idea to work outside when the temperature stays above 50 ° F (10 ° C), since bad weather makes work difficult.

  • When choosing a job site, consider how long the construction will take. With constant work, the process can be as short as a few months, but builders generally take years.
  • Some kit companies allow you to build within their facilities. This can be a good option if you live nearby.
Build an Airplane Step 3
Build an Airplane Step 3

Step 3. Choose the material for the plane

The plane can be made from wood and fabric, aluminum, or composite materials. Each material has different price points and benefits, so do some research before choosing a kit or design. Also, evaluate your skills, such as metalworking, carpentry, and clothing, as this can make some materials easier to use than others.

  • Frames combined with fabric and wood are light, but weak. Early airplanes used wood, and it is still an easy option for customizing airplanes.
  • Today, airplanes are generally made of aluminum, an inexpensive material that is more aerodynamic than wood.
  • Composite materials are stronger and more aerodynamic than aluminum, but they are also more expensive.
Build an Airplane Step 4
Build an Airplane Step 4

Step 4. Buy a construction kit online

A construction kit in the United States costs $ 6,500 to $ 15,000. These kits provide all the blueprints and materials needed to build the external structure of an airplane, thus saving time. You can find all kinds of model airplanes when shopping through different kit manufacturers.

  • Kits generally do not include the engine, propeller, and flight control panel, so you will need to purchase these parts separately.
  • If you want to save money, look up airplane plans online. You can download blueprints, purchase blueprints through kit companies, or design your own.
  • To design your plane, use a program like Airplane PDQ to create the design. Then use a flight simulator like X-Plane to test it out.
Build an Airplane Step 5
Build an Airplane Step 5

Step 5. Assemble the frame of the plane

Use the kit instructions or your blueprints to build the plane. Focus on building one piece at a time. Typically, you will start at the tail, work your way up to the nose, and place the wings last. Work piece by piece until the frame is complete.

  • The skills and tools you need for this will depend on your kit and the material you work with.
  • You don't need technical experience to get started. You can learn or hone your skills during the building process.
  • Some skills that can be helpful are riveting and welding.
Build an Airplane Step 6
Build an Airplane Step 6

Step 6. Install the engine in the nose of the plane

Position the engine at the front of the plane, behind where the flight control panel will be installed. The motor can be heavy, so get help lifting it. Mount it in place with a wrench and connectors.

  • You can buy an engine through kit manufacturers and online auction sites. You may also be able to use old car engines or junkyards.
  • The motor can cost as much as the kit. Keep in mind that it could represent 1/3 of the total cost (approximately $ 2000 in the United States).
  • Installing the motor can be difficult. If you are having difficulties, look for videos and guides online.
Build an Airplane Step 7
Build an Airplane Step 7

Step 7. Attach the propeller to the front of the motor

Push the propeller shaft through the nose of the plane, connecting it to the engine. Keep the paddles out of the plane. Secure the propeller to the engine and plane with a socket wrench to tighten the bolts that hold it in place.

  • If your kit does not include a propeller, you can purchase it online through aviation or kit manufacturers.
  • If you use a car engine, buy a propeller speed reduction unit and attach it to the engine first. Otherwise, the propeller will spin very fast so that the plane can fly properly.
Build an Airplane Step 8
Build an Airplane Step 8

Step 8. Place the flight panel inside the plane

The aviation panel must be installed on the front of the nose of the aircraft. You may need to do electrical wiring to connect the panel to the motor. The panel itself can be installed in place with rivets. The dashboard has instruments like temperature gauges and a radio, so make sure they are working properly before proceeding further.

  • Purchase a flight panel online through an aviation company or auction site. In the United States, its cost is approximately $ 1000.
  • Some modern aviation panels come with a control module. In this case, you will need to plug the panel components into the module for easier installation.
Build an Airplane Step 9
Build an Airplane Step 9

Step 9. Equip the interior of the plane

The interior design will depend on your plane. Many planes don't have a lot of room inside, but you will at least need a comfortable seat. If it's not included in your kit, you can buy one online or make one.

  • Homebuilt airplanes are generally designed for one or two people. You may not be able to carry more than four people at a time.
  • Some useful skills for this are rivet setting and sewing.
Build an Airplane Step 10
Build an Airplane Step 10

Step 10. Paint the plane the color you want

Do an online search to purchase paints specifically designed for aircraft in the color you want. Planning a color scheme can help. Spread out a cloth and use painter's tape to protect the areas you don't want to paint. Apply the paint with a sprayer and use a brush for smaller areas.

  • Apply a primer first so that the paint will adhere better to the plane.
  • Once the paint dries, apply a finishing material (such as acetone) to protect the plane.
  • Make sure you work in a well-ventilated area. Wear a respirator and goggles.

Part 2 of 3: Flying Your Plane

Build an Airplane Step 11
Build an Airplane Step 11

Step 1. Get your pilot's license in your spare time

The pilot's license is required before flying. While you can wait until construction is done, you can start the process before you even start on the plane. Take a flying class through a certified school in your area. Then, apply for the license with the government aviation authority corresponding to your country.

  • You won't be able to use your plane for this as it has to pass the inspections first. Instead, you will use the practice plane at school.
  • The certification board will give you a medical exam, similar to when you visit your doctor for a checkup. You may need to take a written test related to flight rules.
  • Use your pilot license to test different types of aircraft. This will help you determine what type of plane you want to build.
Build an Airplane Step 12
Build an Airplane Step 12

Step 2. Take your plane to the airport

You will have to transport the plane to an airport before you can fly it. If possible, disassemble parts like wings and reassemble the plane in the airport hangar. To transport the plane, rent a truck or trailer. Make sure all the parts are tied securely.

Contact the airports in the area. The employees will inform you where to take the plane for your registration

Build an Airplane Step 13
Build an Airplane Step 13

Step 3. Find a place to store the plane

Many planes are kept in hangars near the airport. You will have to pay a rate that, in the United States, ranges between $ 700 and $ 800 a year for a small plane. However, your plane will be safe there and will always be accessible.

  • Contact your local airport for information on how to rent hangar space.
  • If you have a lot of space on your property or a lot of storage (like a large barn), you can store the plane there.
Build an Airplane Step 14
Build an Airplane Step 14

Step 4. Complete the registration papers

The government board of transportation security (like the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States) handles the registration of aircraft. Complete the papers to register your plane as an amateur builder. You may receive an identification number for your plane.

  • The registration process can take between one and two months, so try to be prepared. While you wait, practice flying other planes.
  • Contact flight organizations for help with paperwork.
Build an Airplane Step 15
Build an Airplane Step 15

Step 5. Complete the final inspection of the plane at the airport

A government agent at the airport will conduct a detailed inspection of the plane to make sure it is safe. Then they will make sure that it is built correctly with quality materials. If your plane passes the inspection, you will receive an official certification document in a month or two.

If the government requires you to keep a log book detailing the construction process, take it for inspection

Build an Airplane Step 16
Build an Airplane Step 16

Step 6. Do your first flight test

Schedule the test with the government agency that has certified your aircraft. Flight organizations can help you in this step. To pass the exam, you will have to fly the plane for up to 40 hours in total. You can do it in some sessions.

Once you pass, you will be able to fly your plane in accordance with aviation regulations. You can fly across the country and invite other people on board

Part 3 of 3: Participate

Build an Airplane Step 17
Build an Airplane Step 17

Step 1. Have an inspector check your work

For example, the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States offers free inspections during aircraft construction. It is a good idea for this person to approach you several times during the construction process. These inspections allow you to identify problems with your work and construction material to prevent your plane from not passing the official inspection.

  • The Aircraft Experimentation Association (EAA) is made up of builders who volunteer in their spare time. These inspections are free.
  • If you are in the United States, find an inspector by visiting
Build an Airplane Step 18
Build an Airplane Step 18

Step 2. Attend fan groups and events

Visit group-organized events such as the Aircraft Experimentation Association. EAA hosts events like Air Venture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. These are ideal places to stay in touch with kit makers and other builders just like you. Learn valuable craft skills while you're there.

  • Organizations often host construction technique workshops that allow you to experiment with wood and metal, materials that you can use on your plane.
  • Attend these events and visit the organization's websites for more information. For example, visit
Build an Airplane Step 19
Build an Airplane Step 19

Step 3. Take a ride on different types of airplanes that you want to build

Join a local chapter of an aviation organization and attend events to connect with other Airmen. Perhaps you can fly through the sky as a passenger in different types of airplanes. Experimenting in this way can help you learn more about building airplanes and how you want to build your own.

  • Fly in different types of aircraft, such as composite, wooden and aluminum frames.
  • Only licensed pilots with registered aircraft can take you flying.
Build an Airplane Step 20
Build an Airplane Step 20

Step 4. Contact other builders for further assistance

Many aircraft owners enjoy the building process as much as flying. Network with them when you attend events. Also, look for construction forums online. You can learn a lot about construction and even meet people willing to help you in the process.

For example, visit the Wings forum or the EAA forum


  • You cannot use the plane for commercial purposes, such as paid or rental transportation.
  • Buying an airplane insurance policy can help you save money, in the event that an accident occurs or your aircraft is broken or damaged.
  • Creating an airplane can be a difficult task. Costs can seem high, and construction can take years if you don't have a lot of free time.
  • You don't need mechanical knowledge to start building your plane or attend related events. You can learn as you go.
  • Get in touch with other builders. Many people will be willing to teach you or help you build your plane.
  • You should always read the entire instruction manual to know what you do.


  • Flying an airplane can be dangerous. You must receive the correct training and certification before flying an airplane.
  • Aviation laws vary from country to country. Make sure you understand the rules before flying.
  • Always verify that you have built a part correctly. Defective parts can lead to problems later.

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