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Tuesday
Aug102010

Can The Onex (1X) From Sonex Save General Aviation In America?

(click pic to enlarge)  
My rendering of a patriotic version of the yet-to-fly single seat Onex from Sonex

(6 pix + 1 video)

 I understand it might be a bit of a stretch for many people to consider that a small single seat VW powered homebuilt airplane might play any part at all in saving General Aviation in America, but at the moment, I can't think of anything more likely. I feel this way for several reasons, starting with the fact that this little sport-pilot compliant airplane, which hasn't even had its first flight yet, is the closest thing I've seen to what I call a 'Grand Slam' homebuilt. If you haven't seen my post from a while back on the Grand Slam homebuilt, here are the 4 parts that make it up:

 1) affordable

 2) great performance but not excessively demanding to fly

 3) relatively and realistically easy to build

 4) electrifying looks

 The one specific point I brought up previously when I mentioned the Onex as a contender for the four-run-homer was whether its looks could be classified as 'electrifying'.  Well, now that I've seen it in person, both at the Open House at their facility at Oshkosh on the day before OSH10 started, and at their booth during Oshkosh, I can say that the Onex definitely looks potentially low-voltage electrfying. True, I wouldn't call it full on electrifying like the 1970's BD-5, but the Onex appears to be so far down the road to fulfilling the other three elements of the grand slam that I gotta think this little cutie is gonna be the closest we've ever been to hitting it out of the park with the bases loaded.

 

Onex reveal at the Sonex open house on Sunday July 25, 2010

 The basic design philosophy of the Onex is to take all the great simplification ideas that John Monnett and crew have engineered into the Sonex family of airplanes, and apply them to a single seater intended to be as affordable as possible. The best news from my perspective is that the guys didn't make it as absolutely tiny as they could, and they aren't trying to get it to fly on the smallest engine available. You could insert some thoughts on the Moni here if you want to. However, by making the Onex a size that is both roomy and comfortable, and by putting an engine on the nose that they've proven can fly two people around quite nicely in a Sonex or Waiex, they are on the brink of offering an airplane that fits real people and will have some very sharp performance. It was obvious when looking in the cockpit that this little airplane has a lot of room inside.

 The more you study the lines on the airplane, the more you see how everything falls into just the right spot. If you want both simple-to-build and visually pleasing (a real rare combo in homebuilt airplanes), then I think you'll be pleased with the way this airplane looks. And, for those who've struggled a bit with the lines of the Sonex and Waiex airplanes, I think you'll find that the Onex is able to sidestep any weirdness and go straight to the head of the class. First, by being a much narrower fuselage, you don't get that sharp break in the slab sides as they work their way past the cockpit. And second, the cowling has a softer shape in the area where the Sonex cowl can be a little, shall we say, 'different'... plus having the heads of the cylinder banks push out thru the cowling sides not only narrows the cowling a bit, but it's one of the coolest nods to the classic cowl of the J-3 Cub ever!

 

 After you get past the simple fact that this is a great looking airplane that obviously wouldn't be complex to build, you can move on to some other really cool aspects of the Onex. The folding wings specifically. The idea was to create a folded size that would allow for easy trailering and easy storage in a normal sized garage. With the wings folded, it's just a tad over 8' wide, and it's just under 7' tall. all while still giving the airplane 78 sq ft of wing area total, which is enuf to keep the slow end of the speed range from being too hot. Even cooler than all that is the fact that it literally takes about 5 seconds to fold a wing panel. They've very cleverly designed the mechanism to not require any kind of disconnecting of the control linkages to be able to accomplish the fold. You unlock the wing. You fold the wing up!

 

 There are little 'paddles' that make contact with each other wing the wing is lowered into position as can be seen here forward of the main spar. This not only greatly simplifies the folding operation, but it also greatly reduces the risk of not having everything properly connected before flight. If this system works like it seems it will, it's gonna be awesome. They also say that the wing is stressed to +6 g's and -3 g's at the gross weight of 850 pounds. That works out to a useful load of 310 pounds at the 540 pound empty weight. An 850 pound airplane with 80 Volkswagen horses up front and stressed to +6 / -3 seems to = FUN, FUN, FUN!

 

 So, maybe I've got you convinced that the Onex shows a lot of promise as a reasonably easy to build, very attractive, affordable and fun flying homebuilt, but you might not be sold on it saving general aviation. Here's why I think it can. We need lots more people interested in becoming pilots. We need airports with more flying activity. We need a general public that sees a lot of people having good, clean, safe fun in the sky. If we could populate the airports of the US with several thousand Onex airplanes in the next few years, we could really begin to change the ground floor of General Aviation. And the bottom line is that you can't have a second floor, or a top floor, without a ground floor.

 

The Onex on display at the Sonex booth at OSH10. Plexiglas canopy not yet installed.

  I got this picture of the Onex on display at the Sonex booth without a lot of people around it, but you can tell by the grass that it had been getting a lot of attention. And that pic above at the open house with the crowd around gives you a good idea of the response so far. This really is the 'one' airplane that just might change the game entirely. 

 There's a lot more to say about this project, and I plan on watching it very closely. I'll be sharing the facts of its progress, and plenty of opinions too. Obviously, it needs to fly before we can really get excited about it, but that should happen soon. And then, the Sonex crew will work out all the bugs and get the kit components all nailed down. It's still looking like a guy who really watches the expenses might be able to get a Onex in the air under $20,000... and the average guy will likely come in right about at 20K. All things considered, that's pretty amazing. I want one!

 

Nice AVweb video with Jeremy Monnett explaining the details of the Onex.

 

 

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Reader Comments (39)

I have to disagree on a few points here.

As far as the "Grand Slam Homebuilt" goes the big argument is it's only going to be $5-6k cheaper than the two-seat version which either gives you more room for baggage or the option to share flight with someone else. That's another 25%, but when you're already spending $20k I'd argue the extra $5k brings a ton of value. I'd like to see the folding wings come to the Sonex (and hope they will do that).

Nothing against the plane, I'd fly one given the chance - but in my opinion "saving general aviation" just ain't going to happen because of this airplane. It's no "grand slam" Why not?

I can't learn to fly in this airplane.
I can't learn a tailwheel transition in this airplane if I learned in something else. I've got to rent/borrow some other type. Then once I've mastered that, I probably have to find a Sonex to get training on their flying qualities unless I want to be a true test pilot. Insurance is TOTALLY going to dictate this one.
I can't get others interested in learning to fly in this airplane. If I want to stay active as a Young Eagles pilot (I do) or give the people I'm continually telling how awesome small airplanes are an introduction (I do), I have to have ANOTHER airplane. Maybe that's a rental somewhere, but to do that I've got to keep another insurance policy for rentals in addition to my owned on the Onex.

It isn't a new first rung on the ladder or a ground floor. Anybody who flies a Onex is already going to be a pilot. I'm a huge fan of light-sport and am glad it gives me something to fly in a bunch of years when maybe a third-class is out of my reach; but so far statistically it's been an option to keep the pilots we already have. I don't want anybody to be grounded and forced out of GA. Once a pilot, always a pilot, and I hope everybody gets to continue enjoying the great privilege they've earned. But we HAVE to have the new folks.

All the Onex serves to be is an "eventual desire" for the non-pilot, like a P-51, let's say. I realize the experience necessary to safely fly the two is pretty drastic, but hear me out. Maybe I see all these Onexes and go to the local airport to see what it's about. And I hear about how great GA is, and about how great the Onex flies. I'm ready to sign up, but wait. I have to earn my license in the 172 on the ramp, get some time and experience, then add some tailwheel training, probably some other specialty stuff, THEN by golly I can drop my 20 grand and fly the plane I got into it all for. (in some places I might get to start/learn in a tailwheel light-sport, and save a bunch of time and steps. But that's not many airports at all) But wait, I've already climbed back in the car and left, mumbling about bait and switch to all of my friends. Flying's not for me. And probably not for them either.

Single-seaters are fine for some people. But not me. I enjoy rep'ing GA to kids through Young Eagles, friends and family. I have to give all of that up if I go with a Onex.

The grand slam of fixing this problem absolutely has to be something I can start in. That removes the bait-and-switch. We need a plane (homebuilt or otherwise) that looks good and is completable for under $40k with a decent useful load. THEN we need to figure out how to address the regulatory issues surrounding instructors offering training in their own (either actually built or simply purchased) homebuilt aircraft. At $40k any serious flight instructor could probably manage to own their own, and/or flight schools could buy several for the line. Then, when I come out to the airport to look at the plane that caught my interest I'm offered a ride instantly. I start training the next week, and by week 3 the kit's on it's way if I've got a decent amount of disposable income; if not I get my license and fly for a while as I save. But I have part 1 of my goal - flying that airplane, and am working on part 2, owning it. And I'm hooked.

But saving General Aviation will only be done with new pilot starts. Light sport can contribute to this if we can just get more of the airplanes out.

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Fast

Adam- Thanx for the comment! This gives me the chance to expand on some of the things I was gonna add to the post originally but simply ran out of time. I've got a list here, and some of it will speak directly to your comment.

1) HOPELESS: There's one big point that helps us both out on the debate, but it's not good news... the bottom line is that Nobody Knows How To Fix The General Aviation Problem! We've talked about it for the last 30 years, and some steps have been taken (LSA, Young Eagles, etc) but the situation is actually borderline hopeless. We really don't have the answer, and even if we figure it out, it'll likely take 10+ years to see real impact.

2) OVERALL COST OF OPERATION: One specific element of the Onex concept is to significantly reduce the total cost of ownership/operation, not just the cost it took acquire it. However, the $6,000 saved compared to a Sonex is still a pretty big deal (and the Sonex is one of the absolute best values in aviation). And compared to most other 2 seat homebuilts, or especially a typical LSA, that 20K is unbelievably attainable by the 'average' person. The Onex will also take noticeably less time and work to build, and that's huge in the world of trying to get an airplane built and flying.

But the real benefits come from accumulated cost of operation. The folding wing allows cost cutting that can really change the game. And while I agree that having it offered on the Sonex would put it in the game as well, so far it doesn't offer it. By being able to store the airplane with 3 or 4 others in a shared t-hangar, or even back home in the garage can have a really big impact on yearly costs. The saving on hangar costs alone would give a Onex owner about 15 hours of flying per month on auto gas! 15 hours of flying essentially for free because the airplane is small and has folding wings. The fact that the airplane can also offer up truly fun 'sport' flying on 3 to 3.5 gallons per hour (again on autogas) smacks down the cost of renting a 152 big time.

3) PASSION: The really big benefit from cheaper cost of operation is that it's really likely that the average person will actually spend quite a bit of time 'flying' their airplane. That's not just good for the person sitting in the cockpit, but I think it affects the biggest pivot point in the whole situation: the public perception of activity in the sky. When the average person from the general public sees a lot more activity in the sky, I think they are much more likely to be drawn in. The second pivot point comes from seeing people fly a 'cool' airplane. I've argued for years that we need more passion in our airplanes. Meaning, we need airplanes that demand an emotional response from most everyone who sees or hears it. The P-51 dream factor of the Onex is essential to making people WANT to get involved in flying. This is part of why I have the Grand Slam concept. We need all these elements to come together to create a significant desire for flying. This isn't to say that the Onex is the coolest airplane ever, but its coolness-to-cost ratio is fantastic. The world has so many activities to offer the average person these days (it's very different today than in the 1970's) that aviation had sure better be looking so irresistible that people are willing to part with cash to get involved. So, if getting to the point of flying your own Onex means you still need to get trained in a normal method that has some noticeable expense, I think many will understand that and be ok with it because the eventual goal is so enticing.

4) LEARN TO FLY IN A CUB: This brings me to a point I didn't mention in the post, but I've been thinking a lot about lately: We Need To Teach People To Fly In 1946 Piper Cubs! Ok, that may sound crazy, but I don't think so. Old Cubs don't cost anywhere near a new Cub clone. In fact, that $40,000 you mentioned will buy a very nice Cub that could still be working its butt off teaching people to fly, and be do so very affordably. Even better, they are learning in a taildragger which always makes you a better pilot and also means that a taildragger Onex doesn't seem so far fetched. Plus, they are planning to offer a trike version of the Onex anyway. Bottom line: I think we need an initiative to get Classic Cub training facilities all over America - ASAP!

5) I don't really claim to have the answers here, but I do feel we've taken the wrong road for the last 30 years. My hope is that we all will start talking more about solutions... or even better, more of us will start just making things happen in the honest hope that aviation will survive. But in my mind, we need irresistible airplanes and we need them now. And I think the Onex is going to be at the top of that list : )

(I've got lots more points to make, but will save them for later!)

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMartt (admin)

The Onex is going to save GA for those who are already pilots and passionate about aviation, but can't seem to find the funds to stay in. I think it's going to fit in well with keeping people who might otherwise drop out of aviation for years involved because of the low price point and the fun you can have. However, I agree with Adam, this isn't the plane for bringing people into aviation. The Sonex or a Cub is much better suited for that with their second seats.

I do agree with Martt about the Cub though. I would love to fly one, but it's hard to find a Cub around DC. I think cool looking, fun, historic, and affordable airplanes like the Cub have a great potential to bring in lots of potential aviators.

Brining people into Aviation isn't as much about the actual airplanes as it is about the flight school's and just getting people interested. Most people who do decide to start training don't buy their own airplane. Maybe with cheaper options for aircraft that can change, but I have a feel most people getting into aviation aren't going to want to spend years building a plane before they can train in it. We are going to need cheap, pre-built options to get people starting out interested in buying, especially when training is so expensive as well.

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

I forgot one thing.

I really want one of these as a second plane. It's seems that its an affordable way to have fun by yourself, go do some aerobatics and just enjoy and afternoon in the sky. It's cheap enough that I can justify this cheap to fly airplane in addition to the family size plane able to take some cross countries with, like a 182 or something. However, I don't think I could ever own just this plane, since I would like to share aviation with others. Take my mom up, take my brother, do young eagles. I think the extra seat is the ticket to enjoying aviation with others and getting more people excited about it. Talking isn't enough, we do need to just take people with us sometimes. So, basically, this has to be the additional airplane in the hangar.

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

I just wanted to chime-in with the factory's perspective on the idea of a Onex-like folding wing for the existing Sonex and Waiex aircraft:

A folding-wing Sonex or Waiex is not something we will be developing. The span and layout of the Onex wing makes it naturally well-suited to a folding wing design. We can fold the wing at a point between flap and aileron control surfaces, have the folded width remain within roadable/trailerable tolerances while keeping the total height of the aircraft with wing folded short-enough to fit into a standard garage door opening.

The larger size of the Sonex/Waiex wing panel simply does not lend itself to that level of versatility. Alternatively, a fold-back folding wing would require an extensive and complete redesign of the Main Wing Spar and fuselage attach into an overly-complex and heavy mechanism. In our assessment, and in surveying demand for wing folding capability on the Sonex and Waiex, we believe the design change to not be warranted or worthwhile.

The Sonex, Waiex and Xenos Motorglider all have easily-removable wings already, similar to those of many sailplanes.

Stay Tuned for more to come on the Onex!

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMark: Sonex Aircraft, LLC

I sat in the Onex during Airventure this year and to be honest with you for how wide the cockpit is, it is not very comfortable. You lean way back and you will need a large head rest or padding behind your head or you will get a sore neck very fast. I wish it didn't have such a "laid down" seating position. I had ample head room being 6'3" tall but my knees were pounding the dash. The forward visibility didn't seem to great either with the "slanted" windshield it sports. The folding wings kind of scare me in any airplane and don't really think the airplane has that pleasing of lines. I know Sonex makes quality durable airplanes but I guess I am just disappointed that I still didn't fit very well when Jeremy Monnett ( the Onex' designer ) previously stated it will fit pilots up to 6'4" tall. Headroom maybe, not legroom, at least for me. I have wanted to build a Waiex for 3 years now but I don't fit in a Sonex/Waiex and was really excited that I was going to be able to build and fly a Sonex Onex, but I am affraid I can't fit in this plane either. Maybe if Sonex would build airplanes for "Normal" sized people I might be able to fit. Jeremy might fit in this plane fine but me having about 12" of height on him is a different story. So for those who think the Sonex Onex will save GA, think again, It does look like it will be a great airplane just like the rest of their products but I still have my doubts on who can all fit in it.

BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD SONEX!

August 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPete Wright

I liked the new single place from Sonex Aircraft that they unveiled this year at Airventure. I think it looks like a little fighter plane and should be a blast to fly. I really love the simplicity of the airplane and it seems like it would be relatively simple to build. The wing fold mechanism is very simple yet it works. I always thought that Sonex's wings on their other airplanes were easy to remove for storage or transporting but the folding wing on their new single place is even easier to do. It takes no longer than 8 seconds per side to unlock the wing and fold it up. It is just as easy to get the plane ready for flying as well. Just reverse order the process and you are ready to go flying in less than 30 seconds. I know this for a fact, I personally did it at Airventure this year. You don't even need anyone to help you do it which is the beauty of it. I plan on getting one as a third plane to just do some airport hopping. I currently own a Cessna 182 and a Corben Baby Ace. I want something that I can hop over to my neighboring airports and do it quickly and affordably. The new Sonex single place should fill that void. I probably won't be putting it on a trailer or towing it home but I like that I can fold the wings up and it won't take up a bunch of hangar space. It would be great if the panel space was larger to make it an IFR airplane but I don't really think that that was Sonex's plan when they designed this airplane.
I do have to agree a bit on the plane not being that comfortable to sit in, but when I sat in it a couple weeks ago the plane didn't have the interior in it yet so I can't really tell for sure. Yes, I did notice that it is kind of hard to see forward with the sloped windshield but it didn't seem like that much of an issue. If it is like a Sonex it should be no problem. My friend owns a Sonex and I have flown with him in his plane about a dozen times and never had a visibility issue. If the new Sonex single place flies like their side-by-side model, it should be a winner. I talked to Jeremy Monnett at Airventure and told him that I loved his little creation. I can't wait to see the flight tests in the next month or two. Keep us posted Jeremy and tell the whole gang at Sonex to keep up the good work.

David Thompson
(Future One-x Builder and Pilot)

August 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Thompson

Pete and David: we recognize through all the "try-on's" during AirVenture that we have some work to do on the seat configuration to make it more accommodating. Visibility will be the same, if not better, than our current line of aircraft. Again, Stay Tuned!

August 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMark: Sonex Aircraft, LLC

I too have been watching the Onex with great interest. Thanks for the detailed write up. It seems right now there is never quite enough information about a new design so it was nice to read your report and see the pictures.

As for saving GA, I myself am at a loss about how to do that. I've been a pilot since I was 17 have built 3 homebuilts, flown 50 young eagles missions, even have 2 kids that I have taken flying since they were 2 years old. Even my kids seem only passively interested in aviation. I'm sure I could push them into training, but while they enjoy taking trips with me, they have not taken up offers of training. So for me, I'm still looking for how I'm going to replace just me in the pilot ranks through 1 person introduced to flight!

For me the Onex is just a fun plane to join another that you might already have. I currently fly a Kitfox and I think the Onex would make an excellent addition for aerobatics and formation flying. Those activities are almost always solo anyways (at least for me) so no big loss there. It will be interesting to see how the project continues to develop and what people think when they start flying it. Time will tell.

Thanks again for the report!

August 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Karmy

Unless you're Charles Lindburgh hauling the mail, a slick little, VW-powered, experimental homebuilt can't save General Aviation. That ship has sailed.

August 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDave D

Regarding forward visibilty: don't forget that the 3-point ground attitude is not what you'll see when flying level; fwd viz will be much improved. Any taildragger on the ground has poor fwd viz. I like what I've seen so far of the Onex: it'll be a winner. Will it save GA? Don't think so for reasons mentioned above, but it sure will be a very welcome addition: a small light-weight, payable, strong fun airplane with some pizzaz in speed and modest X-country capabilities; should have good climb at this weight. Now dream about the turbo Aerovee at 100 hp and some BD speed pants ....

August 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Jans

I don't know if I agree that the 1x will save general aviation. I do know that I want one as soon as they become available. And maybe two. Reason, my wife and I are both pilots and if we were to fly together it would be a big fight about who gets to be the pilot in command. We have to have two Harley's because of this same problem. So we are used to traveling together solo on separate bikes. The 1x would be like a Harley in the sky. For about the same price. I don't take people for rides on my Harley, and I doubt that I would take anyone for a ride in my experimental airplane so one seat is plenty. Solitary flying and riding is the best as far as I'm concerned. No backseat driver.

August 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTony

I also got a good look at the Onex at AirVenture. I didn't get a chance to sit in it because they were so busy with crowds & the press. Looks pretty roomy. I assume they'll fix the kneeroom issue for tall pilots. That's what prototypes are for. Overall I think they have a winner. How about this name for the Y-tailed Onex: Waiknot.

I also like the Waiex but it's a little small. There's just not enough payload for me, one of my flying buddies and fuel. If Sonex ever came out with a 2-seater with 3" or 4" more cabin width and 50-75 lbs. more payload I think they'd grab a large chunk of the "big guy" market.

August 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKevin Thorp

Developments which the people of Sonex Aircraft LLC has brought to GA over the years are incredible. I am current building a tail dragger version of their Sonex and intend to put an AeroVee in it (perhaps a turbo). This fits my mission (east coast VFR pleasure flight) extremely well. The Onex, and eFlight developments are exciting fit and other missions. I am hoping my next build will be something along the lines of an an: eOnos (John, .. Jeremy ? :))

August 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJ Frey

I believe the main reason General Aviation is dying out, is becaue it's gotten so insanely expensive. I stopped flying around 12 years ago, when renting a Piper Tomahawk was around $100 per hour. I shudder to think what it would rent for now in 2010.

I would love to build my own kit plane, even a Sonex or 1X or any of several others out there. The problem is, the kits cost way too much for most people who have to buy groceries, pay bills, car payment, etc. The same is true for renting aircraft, it's just not in most budgets.

An aircraft or kit, including the engine & prop that could come in at $10,000.00 or less, and be built in a reasonable timeframe, may stand a chance at attracting more new pilots, or enticing ones like me back into the air.

I know a used Cessna 150, or similar plane, can sometimes be had for around $12 to18k, and that's not bad, but then you have the insane amounts of money required to keep parts and maintenance going. An overhauled aircraft engine for $20,000.00+ ?

How about a new Piper from the factory? Only $119,900.00 for the cheap 2 seater? This is & the similar, ever climbing kit plane pricing is what's killing GenAv.

September 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersam ponata

As far as tail draggers having a harder time to see on the ground I agree. I should know I have logged over 850 hours in taildraggers in my day. What I was stating was that the angle the windshield slopes back at and the fact it isn't a clear windshield but tinted it makes it very difficult to see through the windshield. I have actually heard people complain about forward visibility with their Sonex's as well due to that reason and after sitting in the Onex at Airventure this past summer I know what they mean. I question the visibility at night or on a cloudy day with the tinted windshield and canopy.

September 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPete Wright

The problem with kit aircraft going up in price nowadays for kits is the fact that nobody wants to build anymore. They just want to take parts out of the boxes and "snap" them together and go flying. Thus the kit manufactures develope more parts that they have to charge more for in their kits. On the topic of the Onex, the Aerovee Sonex sells is one of the most affordable aircraft engines out there at right about $7000. My RV7A that I built a few years back had a new Lycoming IO-360 that cost me upwards of $25,000. My propeller on my RV was $7000.

It is nearly impossible to sell a kit with engine and prop for $10,000 or less. With the most affordable aircraft engines costing about 2/3rds of that budget plus add a propeller for another $1000 that doesn't leave you with much money for parts of the kit for the airplane. Plus what company out there would sell a kit for cost or less? I am pretty sure they are into it as a business adventure and not to give away their time and knowledge.

I guess there are a few planes like Pietenpols you can build for around $10,000 but I gaurentee that isn't with a new motor and it won't have the performance of an RV, Rans, Lancair, Sonex, or Zenair or have the detailed kit parts they have.

The problem with people now is they all want and aerobatic kit plane that has 75 gallons of fuel, burns 1 gallon an hour, has a payload of 3000lbs, and builds in 25 minutes, and all at the cost the price of a new washer and dryer. Every plane is different and from my past in the kitplane world you get what you pay for. Each plane has its own purpose. My RV was a great all around semi low operating cost airplane that was great for aerobatics and cross country trips but I don't expect it to keep up with a Lancair Evolution or hold as much payload as one.

Everyone needs to find out what their aviation purpose is and find a plane in their price range that is suited for their flying needs. There are trade-offs in aviation people!

Plus learn a skill! My RV taught me skills that I would have never had if I didn't take the effort to build it. These skills are slowly being lost from generation to generation because of our intant gratification mentality.

My Two Cents Worth!

September 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLance Williamn

Pete, I really feel the need to jump-in regarding your tailwheel visibility comments as it applies to the Sonex, because I feel your comments really mischaracterize the aircraft. As taildraggers go, the Sonex line of aircraft have some of the best visibility available.

First: the slope of the windshield makes absolutely no difference in visibility. Even if the Sonex had a more conventional and draggy vertical windshield, the nose would not be any shorter, and the already low glareshield would not be any lower. The angle at which you look through the lexan due to its slope does not effect visibility in any way.

Second: the bronze tint of our canopy and windshield is very light -- much less tint than most sunglasses. We can fly the aircraft on cloudy days, and late into twilight hours and see great. The airplane isn't commonly flown at night because we have mostly Sport Pilots for customers, but we do have some customers flying at night and I have yet to field a single complaint.

Third: the deck angle of a tailwheel Sonex Aircraft on the ground is very shallow. You'll find yourself S-turning during taxi much less in the Sonex than with most other taildraggers.

Check-out the Sport Pilot magazine cover image on the lower-right column of our web site homepage, and you'll get some idea of how great the visibility of the aircraft is in-flight. Better yet, click on the links to see some of the video previews with in-cockpit footage such as the "Right Seat with Tony Spicer" video.

If you poll our flying customers in a forum such as our Sonex Talk online discussion group, I think you'll find the overwhelming majority will say that the visibility from their tailwheel Sonex's is outstanding.

September 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMark: Sonex Aircraft, LLC

Lance- I think you've hit on a very important point... people are less likely to put the effort into hardcore building than they used to be. Ultimately, that's an unfortunate reflection of our society, and it's gonna be really hard to overcome.

Hopefully we can figure out some effective ways to educate people on the idea that if you want a great performing airplane that doesn't cost a lot, you're gonna have to put in some serious sweat equity.

September 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMartt (admin)

Lance's statement is exactly what I'm referring to:

"On the topic of the Onex, the Aerovee Sonex sells is one of the most affordable aircraft engines out there at right about $7000. My RV7A that I built a few years back had a new Lycoming IO-360 that cost me upwards of $25,000. My propeller on my RV was $7000."

I can only assume that somewhere in that $25,000, Lycoming is pulling in a profit. Or the $7000 for your prop, or around $3000 for the fixed pitch version, that someone is making a killing. The Onex or Sonex is in a price range that a lot of middle class folks could afford, or finance. The $6000 for a VW engine is not.

If the above manufacturers actually have to charge those prices to even make a profit, be it for all the hoops and regulations they have to jump through, or product liability, or whatever, then general aviation is really in trouble.

General aviation has, for many years now, been turning into a rich man's game. Whether astronomical prices are blamed on high fuel cost's, product liabilty insurance costs, R&D costs for aircraft manufacturer's, or whatever, the prospective new pilots don't know, or probably really care. As potential customers who want to learn to fly, build their own plane, or buy a new or used one, they find out the high price to join the club, and walk away.

September 14, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersam ponata

I'm a taller pilot too - 6'2" last time I checked. I fit snugly in my Sonex, with the lowered seat option installed, and had about 1/2" from the top of my melon to the canopy. I learned to crouch slightly, which wasn't a big deal. The Onex looks like it offers even more headroom for me, so I plan to be the first to build and fly one in Oz. I'm not going to buy in on whether the Onex will save GA in the US, as it ain't my country. But for those who can't afford it as a second or third aeroplane - i.e. those who can afford $20k, no more - the Onex is the bees knees (unless you're the 6'4" gentleman who posted above.). If Onex owners want to share the joy of flight with others - go rent a four-seater. That way you don't have to pay for the insurance, hangarage, opportunity cost of capital, etc,etc. 95% of my flying is single pilot, so the Onex is my kind of plane. My only real gripe is that I have to wait until it's released - oh the pain!! Oh yeah, I sold my Sonex before heading to war earlier this year - need - to - build - again - soon -
As far as visability through the slanted windscreen goes - it is NOT an issue. My Sonex had outstanding visability for a tail dragger - the Onex similar..

September 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJim Lewis

As a 26-year-old would-be RV builder, I'm EXTREMELY interested in the Onex for a number of reasons:

1) Building Cost. Nothing about an RV is particularly expensive in the grand scheme of aviation, but nothing is particularly CHEAP either. In today's world of aviation, you really can't have everything you want in an airplane and still afford a more or less normal lifestyle. Nobody wants to eat hot dogs and macaroni just to be able to fill up their vehicle. I've been to college, I don't need to repeat the experience.

2) Simplicity. I won't have to learn to become a master electrician/IT professional to wire the darn thing, which also means I won't have to spend $30k on an IFR panel if it won't fit in the first place. I won't have to bother mulling over myriad choices of panel arrangements, constant-speed props, fuel pumps, electric ignition, and standby instruments, because none of that will fit.

3) Economy. The only prohibitive factor I can see where a Onex will outpace a more conventional counterpart would be insurance; something more than made up in the savings in hangar space and fuel economy. If I want to sell the plane, I just cancel the insurance and leave it in the garage whereby the operating costs instantly reach $0--not the case with any hangared aircraft.

4) Knowledge. Maybe a 4-seater RV-10 is in my future. Maybe not. But I won't know until I get my feet wet, and I can't think of any better way than to construct something simple, proven, reliable, and economical first. Sign me up!

April 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Frank- I think you're right on with your thoughts. If a guy 'needs' 4 seats, then he probably has the wallet to back that up... but if 'being able to fly' is what a guy really needs, then the Onex is just gonna be about impossible to beat. And I'm guessing that building a Onex would be a great warm up for an RV-10 experience : )

April 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMartt (admin)

As soon as I saw the Onex I new it was the plane I would build.Why?Your getting an all metal airplane for under $25000 about the same price I paid for my Ford Escape.
Cheap on gas,Cheap on hanger storage or just trailer it home.Try that with any other $25000 kit out there.I looked at purchasing a Zenith 701 another all metal plane.Kit cost about $2000 more than the onex but the rotax it was designed for will set you back over $20000 and the finished product will set you back upwards of $40000 .For $15000 less you get an extra 45 to 50 mph,and one heck of a lot sexier looking plane.
The fact it is only a one seater is a none issue 90% of the flying the average pilot does is alone.Want to take a friend up occasionally rent a 150 .Oh and did I mention you can fold the wings up in 1 minute and take it home with you.
This plane is a stroke of brilliance in my opinion,you just have to let it in.
Mike

June 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike53

I too am very interested in the Onex. I am 6' 6" tall so I may not fit. I will find out at Oshkosh this year. My other choice is the CH750 but as was stated above, it will cost more to complete. Here is the worrying part. I am a low time pilot with 110 hours. I am too big to fit in the Sonex to get transition training. That leaves me as test pilot. While I feel I am capable of performing this task, I would hate to find out I was wrong. Also I am wondering about insurance. I am thinking it might be very expensive.

July 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDan

My response to the 6'6" gentleman with about 110 hours. Sir, the nosewheel version of the Onex, if it flies like the Sonex, will be one of the easiest aeroplanes to take-off and land. My Sonex is a taildragger and I had zero hours on tail wheels when I bought the kit. I did a tail wheel conversion on a Decathlon (lots of fun by the way) and test flew the Sonex myself. Sonex is an easy aeroplane to fly and I had no 'moments' in landing or takeoff. I expect the Onex will be similar, and I will test fly that too. However, you're the best one to determine your comfort factor in test flying. I recommend you get on the Sonex website and see if you can organise a ride with a Sonex near you. All the best.

July 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJim Lewis

Hi Jim,

Thanks much for the response. I feel better about the Onex after reading this. I am excited aout seeing one in person and trying it on for size. I will try the Sonex as well. Even if it is too small for me to fly maybe I could still get a feel for it as a passenger.

Thanks again.

July 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDan

Onex tail kit on order! Didn't get to Oshkosh to check it out but a friend of mine who is almost as big as I got a chance to sit in the Onex and said it was "roomy". Good enough for me. Would have liked to order the complete kit but telling the little woman about the tail kit is stressfull enough.

July 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDan

For me the Onex would be perfect. Lets just say I'm currently north of 250lbs and about 6'1. I don't want to sit lopsided to one side of an aircraft with seats that are only 2/3 the size my arse. Not to mention the slightly shorter wingspan and narrower fuse is bound to offer a few more miles per gallon of fuel or a lower throttle setting for a given speed.

September 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAra Tidwell

The Onex is very appealing as a single seat aircraft, why single seat? I think every pilot and future pilot must see that due to the inherent dangers in flying.Flying with a "buddy" may be the last thing you do. As a pilot yourself you will be responsible for the other persons life, wife and offspring. Search the NTSB web site for your favorite airplane and you'll see many buddies killing buddies. There is a lot of peer pressure in aviation especially in the home built scene, building aircraft way beyond their skills like too fast too manouverable even too costly.
Yes I know I'm alone with these thoughts, but be darned if I will go for a flight with someone with there new RV eager to show me what it can do and end up eating dirt permanently, so a C150 trained pilot can step up to a rocket on there own skin. Hell even your god like 20,000 hour pilot screws up. I think most GA pilots should fly single seaters there would be more buddies alive today.

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMR. One Seat

The Onex is great--if only it had a decent engine. The VW is about as bad as a 2 stroke. All my flying friends have had issues with them.

December 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGlen

The Onex certainly has the potential to save general aviation, unfortunately this is not going to happen. There are many companies in the US and Europe that provide kits also,but some provide a fly-away airplane. Sonex is not one of those companies and it's doubtful they ever will be. The more than five hundred thousand inactive pilots in the US are not going to be served with a kit. Unless the Onex goes into production it will pass into obscurity like its' many hopeful predecessors.

December 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRon James

The SPA Panther looks good too.....

January 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDoug

I am sold on the Onex but not on the AeroVee engine. Why is an Jabiru 2200 or 3300 available on the Sonex but not on the Onex???

November 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

Well Sonex doesn't offer the Jabiru or other engine options for the Onex because they want to sell more Aerovee engines because Aerovee is Sonex Aircraft. Sonex does not like anyone who deviates from their plans to make their airplane the way the builder might want it. They put those builders on their S..T list and do not give technical support to builders who do. I thought experimental aircraft was all about personalizing your own airplane.

I would not want an Aerovee on my airplane. Look at the ntsb reports at how many airplanes with Aerovee engines have sudden loss of power. Probably due to that crappy, hard to tune Aerocarb.

My 2 cents!

February 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRV Steve

RV Steve brought a good point up about customizating your kit plane. If you have ever heard John Monnett, the founder of Sonex Aircraft speak about his aviation past, he will tell you about how he has changed a kit to make it his own but doesn't want anyone to do that with his kits. Sounds pretty hypocritical and arrogant if you ask me.

RV Steve, along with thousands of other RV owners are probably very happy that Dick Van Grunsven modified the Playboy to make the start of the most successful kitplane business ever. Modification breeds creativity. Something everyone could benefit from.

February 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie B.

Well put Charlie B and RV Steve. I was at Airventure this past summer and spoke to Sonex at their booth regaurding putting a Revmaster that I already owned onto a Onex that I was interested in building. I was told that I could not do that by Sonex and did not get any good answer on why not from Sonex. They kept pushing Aerovee, Aerovee, Aerovee to me trying to convince me to sell my Revmaster and put one of their Aerovee engines in the Onex so I could still receive technical support from the factory. Well I did end up selling my Revmaster but did not get a Onex.

Luckily for me, after leaving the Sonex booth, I walked a short distance south and found a sweet little single place airplane called the Panther made by Sports Performance Aircraft. Looking the plane over and over I found an airplane that is more attractive, more roomy and comfortable to sit in, better performance numbers, better folding wing method, ballistic chute capable, more engine options, and better forward visibility due to a more optically correct canopy than the Onex.

People talk about the Onex, but the Panther out does the Onex in every aspect except that it comes from company that has only been around a couple years. The customer interaction and friendly support that Sports Performance Aircraft gave me puts them at the top of my list. I am looking to build a single place airplane starting when I retire this coming fall. The Panther looks to be the choice for this guy.

Besides, a single place aircraft will never save general aviation but this topic has stirred up a good conversation starter.

I feel that fuel prices dictate GA more than anything. If 100LL was only $3.00 a gallon you would see a lot more people out flying every day. Just like the RV industry ( motorhomes, 5th wheel trailers, etc.) Thrives when fuel prices are low.

Drill Baby Drill!

February 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTyler Morton

Spoke with a Kitfox owner in a high cost hanger area, he has folded his wings and towed his airplane home since 1995 and saved $72,000.

December 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBlueRidge

I am looking for information about interior design ideas. Thank you so much! My site http://zeroinchinteriorsltd.com

February 29, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterzeroinchinteriorsltd

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