How to Build Your Own Aluminum Aircraft

Written by amanda hevener
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How to Build Your Own Aluminum Aircraft
Kit aeroplanes are small and often hold only the pilot. (Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Believe it or not, it is entirely possible to build and fly your own full-scale aeroplane. The trick is having a large enough space to build it in. A kit aeroplane that fits one person (the pilot) will take up the length and width of a two-car garage. Airplanes can be made out of any number of materials, including plastic and fibreglass, but aluminium is the most popular since it is lightweight and durable.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Aluminium aeroplane kit with frame and sheet metal pieces
  • Drill
  • Clecos
  • Rivet gun
  • Rivets
  • Air compressor
  • Tape measure
  • Marker
  • Metal cutters
  • Clamps

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  1. 1

    Lay out the frame pieces that came in the kit. Make sure that you have all of them and spread them out based on what section of the plane they are designated for. You will frame pieces for the tail sections, wings and fuselage.

  2. 2

    Assemble the frame, starting with the horizontal stabiliser. Drill the rivet holes. They should be no more than 3 inches apart. Place a cleco on the two pieces of metal where the rivet hole is. The cleco is designed to hold the frame sections together, making it easier to rivet them. Attach the rivet gun to the air compressor with the included hose, then shoot the rivet into the centre of the cleco to permanently attach the pieces together. After the tail section is built, complete the wings and then the fuselage before connecting them all together.

  3. 3

    Install the wires that control the plane. They will run down the inside of the fuselage, connecting the control surface inside the wings and tail with the cockpit. The kit comes with all of the controls needed, along with a pilot's chair. Follow the instructions for your specific model.

  4. 4

    Pull out the sheet metal that will cover the plane. Most of the pieces in the kit are already cut and ready for assembly, but some will need to be moulded according to the instructions. You need to cut the pieces accordingly. Always measure them and mark them with a marker before slicing them with the shears to avoid mistakes.

  5. 5

    Place the aluminium sheets on the tail section first. Clamp them in place, then drill holes for the rivets. Just like the frame, place a cleco in the rivet hole before driving in the rivet. Repeat this until the entire outside of the plane has been covered with sheet metal.

  6. 6

    Register the completed aeroplane. It must have a U.S. identification number, FAA registration and airworthiness certificate in order to be flown legally. The identification number is received from the Federal Aviation Administration Aircraft Registry by filling out a form with your name, address and basic aeroplane information (what it is made out of and how many seats it has.) The FAA registration is obtained by a FAA Form 8050-1 and an Affidavit of Ownership AC Form 8050-88. The airworthiness certificate requires a physical examination from an FAA inspector and FAA Form 8130-6.

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