The Sonex is a modern two-seat homebuilt aerobatic aircraft designed for the experimental light-sport category.

stall cruise vneclimb @ aerofuelrangeemptygross @ utillimit loads
35 kts148 kts170 kts2000+ fpm60lt / 42kg345 nm280 kg520 kg+6/-3G
@ 950lbs/430kg
40 mph170 mph197 mph 16gal / 92lbs400 mi620 lbs1150 lbs
65 kmh270 kmh320 kmh10+ m/s  640 km   

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PROJECT STATUS: February 2012 (still 884 hours...)

Not a lot of work on the Sonex in the last 8 months I'm afraid, but some small progress towards a workshop / hangar. There was a LOT of discussion about what it should look like, what it should be made of, where it should be cited, how it should be oriented etc. etc...! We had a lot of trouble imagining what it would look like next to the house, so eventually I had a number of sketchup models created (I can recommend Joe Malone for this type of work), which led us to decide on something like this:

PROJECT STATUS: June 2011 (884 hours)

May/June saw the aft fuse box come together fairly quickly, as I had already finished most of the parts before the last move, back in May 2009 (!!). I just had a few holes to cut in the side skins, install the rudder cable guides, do some tidy-up and then work out all over again how everything fits together!

In my rush to get things finished and packed before moving, I made a mistake in 2009 by drilling all the upper longeron holes to final size (#30). They should stay at pilot size (#40) until the turtledeck has been fitted, so I had to be extra careful when drilling the turtledeck to the longerons, not to enlarge the existing final-size holes. I got away with it, but it highlighted the need to carefully look ahead in the plans and understand the next few steps ahead of time.

After a lot of stomach crunching exercises fitting the turtledeck formers I eventually got everything fitted and drilled and clecoed. I've now taken the turtledeck assembly off again for deburring and corrosion proofing. July should see it back in place with rivets.

Latest panel concept with MGL Voyager, VHF & Trig Transponder. Although I'm hoping to use the MGL transponder if it is ready:


turtledeck install
aft fuse box

PROJECT STATUS: May 2011 (832 hours)

It seems impossible, but the last entry in my builders log is dated October 2009 - a year and a half ago! Time flies, as they say. The thing is, I want my Sonex to fly too, so I had better get back on with it! It has been something of a financial stretch for us to buy this property with airstrip-in-potentia, and so the intervening time has been spent... well, stretching! :-)

But things are getting back on track again, and I've just finished setting up my workshop again (for the 4th time would you believe, after 3 moves in the last 5 years!). Due to aforementioned stretch the planned hangar & workshop has not yet been possible, so I've set-up in the garage for the time being. Picture at right shows levelling the workbench with a plastic tube filled with water.

Next steps will be to reassemble and rivet the aft-fuse box and construct the turtle-deck. Then on to the forward-fuse...

A timely inspiration boost has come from getting to have a fly in Tim Midgley's Sonex, pictured at right. Thanks Tim - Awesome! It flies beautifully, although is more pitch sensitive than I am used to. It also reaffirmed my decision to use the Jabiru 3300 engine and the Prince prop. This was the first completed Sonex I have seen 'in the flesh', and I also have to say that I was slightly surprised by how small it seems in the real life. In fact, while we were pushing it back to the hangar I had a momentary impression that it was not unlike a large-scale radio-controlled model!


PROJECT STATUS: March 2010 (832 hours)

Well the 'minor home renovations' I mentioned in May somehow evolved into a year-long effort culminating in the purchase of a new property! So there has basically been zero progress on the Sonex for the last 10 months. I did get the aft fuse parts alodined, but that's about it.

The Sonex is partially responsible for this latest move actually, as I wanted somewhere I could build a Sonex-suitable airstrip. It was not easy to find! But - our new property has an area that I think will work. It's only about 300m/1000' and is on a bit of a slope, so one-way, but it should be fine for the Sonex in most conditions that I will be flying (read as: good weather!).

It will probably take the best part of another year before I get back to work on the Sonex, as I want to build a proper hangar/workshop here, directly off the left end of the house, opening into the 'airstrip paddock'.There are also plans for some horse yards and stables and a few other miscellaneous jobs to do before that. So I'm thinking of this time as a 'long term investment' in the Sonex! I'll add another section for 'hangar construction' when it gets underway...



The aft fuselage box is well on the way. I had hoped to have it finished and riveted, complete with turtledeck by the end of the month, but it'll probably take until next month now. I haven't riveted anything yet as I need to disassemble for alodining and priming prior to final assembly.

Some minor home renovations and replacing all the guttering on our house is slowing the Sonex down a little, but I am informed that preventing it raining in the kitchen whenever it rains outside has a higher priority! Unbelievable, I know... ;-)

I'll get some pictures loaded into the fuse construction pages soon...



Well it took a few extra weeks to get around to it (we went on a short holiday in Fiji) but I finally got the left wing-tip on today! So the left wing is now done, wrapped in plastic and stored up in the top shed with it's mate.

I now have the wings, tail and all control surfaces completed, so the only major part of the airframe left to build is... the FUSELAGE!  I sure hope it's true what they say about the fuse being much easier and faster to build than the wings... :-)

I've started organising all the parts to make the aft fuselage section. I cut most of the channel parts to length back when I first got the kit in 2005, but they now need to be completed, along with some small parts that go together to make the aft fuse sides. 

aft fuse parts 

PROJECT STATUS: February 2009

My 2009 goals are going well so far:

Sonex right wing is finished and installed for now up in the wood shed roof frames, awaiting a mate and a fuselage. Left wing has the frame riveted and now only requires some wiring and final skin installation to be complete. Should be done with it and started on the fuselage by the end of March.

My weight is down from 85kg to 78kg, so only 3kg to go.

Sojo & I completed our first 40km endurance 'training' ride on Feb-28 with a perfect vet through at the end. Another 40 and then three 80km rides to go before he's qualified.


I've also been playing around with Xpanel and have a new panel layout. I bought an OKI C5650 colour printer last year, which can print out Sonex size panels at full scale onto a single 216x900mm sheet of banner paper. I've moved the Voyager left of centre to try and minimised crossing of arms (right hand on centre-stick, left hand pushing buttons).

PROJECT STATUS: January 2009 (675 hours)

Well, I seem to have well and truly overshot my 2005 New Year Resolution to build a Sonex by the end of that year... ahem! But, I'm now very close to having the wings finished and am going to renew my new year resolution for 2009 - I will have the airframe finished and the engine in my workshop by this time next year.

My other major goal for 2009 is to qualify my 5 year old Quarab "Sojo" to compete in endurance rides. And get my weight from 85kg back down to 75kg. I think both Sojo & the Sonex will appreciate that one!

In the meantime, I've begun riveting the right aft wing skins on! The right wing should be well finished by the end of January.

PROJECT STATUS: October 2008 (603 hours)

I've now Alodined all the wing ribs, gussets and aileron bellcrank parts. Currently riveting the gussets to the ribs and making the #9 rib aileron bellcrank assembly. Next will be riveting the ribs to the right-spar, adding wiring conduit, static/pitot/aoa lines and wing tank plumping...

PROJECT STATUS: September 2008 (583 hours)

Have been deburring wing ribs and associated parts. Nearly ready to alodine all the wing parts prior to reassembly and final riveting. I've also uploaded a lot of new pictures to the construction area and am in the process of adding comments to all pictures.

PROJECT STATUS: July 2008 (573 hours)

Wing spars riveted and mated! I found that a 1/2" diameter bolt seemed to set rivets better than the 3/4" bolt, and I also stopped using the 5/32" squeezer set, sitting the head of the rivet directly on the bucking-bar. The head gets flattened slightly, but I think it actually looks better, and the Sonex literature says it has no affect on the strength.

PROJECT STATUS: June 2008 (563 hours)

After getting the left wing clecoed together and all holes drilled to final sizes, it's finally time to set all those solid rivets in the main spar assemblies.

Despite earlier thoughts of using a c-frame tool for this, I decided to try the Sonex suggested 'hammer and bolt' method, which so far is proving quite satisfactory. I started at the outboard end of the spar, thinking that my 'hammer' technique would improve as I went and the outboard rivets would be less critical (under least stress).

I drilled a hole in the bucking-bar to fit a 5/32" rivet-squeezer set and then 'back-riveted' the rivet tails with a polished 6" x 3/4" bolt.


PROJECT STATUS: May 2008 (558 hours)

It's taken a while to get back into building after moving from King Island back to Tasmania, but I've now started working on the left wing. I'll get it to the same stage as the right wing (skins clecoed on) and then take it apart and rivet both left and right main spars before reassembling the wings for the final (I hope!) time.

I wasn't happy with the fit of the leading edge on the right wing, and so I tried reforming the left skin by the 'vacuum bagging' method, with 43mm (1.7") OD PVC pipe forming the leading edge.

It helped, but not as much as I had hoped - the leading edge radius still seems too large. I'm going to try reforming it again using smaller diameter pipe.

PROJECT STATUS: November 2007 (513 hours)

Horizontal stab, elevators, vertical stab, rudder, flaps and ailerons are completed. Rear wing spars are completed. Main wing spars are completed except for final riveting. All ribs have been fitted and drilled, but require clean-up, alodine and riveting.

I've changed my mind again and have decided to build the wings before the fuselage.

I'm currently working mainly on the right wing. I'm planning to seal up the first few wing-bays in the leading edge of each wing, to form auxiliary fuel tanks. These should add another 45+ litres of reserve capacity for the occasional 'long haul' over Bass Strait.

I will be leaving King Island and moving back to Tassie in January, so I will probably won't get much more done until February or so, apart from packing everything into a shipping container (again!).

PROJECT STATUS: February 2007 (260 hours)

Time for a well overdue website update! I have now moved to King Island, and after quite a break am starting to work on the Sonex again. It was quite a packing job, getting it here! I'm now building in the KI aeroclub hangar, which means I have a lot more room, but on the other hand it's not quite as close as it used to be when it was just 'downstairs'.

I have returned to working on the tail section, and have alodined all the sub-structure pieces and begun to rivet things together. Now that I have more space, I am planning to build the fuselage before going further with the wings.

I've also ticked off a milestone by getting my Private Pilot Licence (PPL) and RAA Pilot Certificate in December. My next goal is a tailwheel endorsement for both GA and RAA aircraft.

PROJECT STATUS: July 2006 (211 hours)

Still no more progress since April, unfortunately. But, there are big changes afoot! I am planning to move back to my childhood home of King Island for a year or so. I am going to take my Sonex project with me and set up shop in the aeroclub hangar at the airport. I plan to have a lot more spare time over the next year, and should be able to spend a lot of time working on the Sonex. I'm slightly worried about the salty air and relatively corrosive environment on the island, but I'll use that as encouragement to get parts made, primed, assembled and painted as quickly as possible!

I hope to make the move around September/October. The only progress I'll make on the Sonex before then is to pack it all up again, ready for shipping! Luckily I kept most of the crate material that it was shipped to Australia in.

So... new construction goal is to have the wings finished by the end of the year, complete with auxiliary fuel tanks.

Another goal is to (finally!) get around to finishing my Private Pilot's Licence (PPL) and to also get my RAA Pilot Certificate along the way. The RAA license is required to fly RAA registered ultralight aircraft in Australia.

PROJECT STATUS: May 2006 (211 hours)

Yep, well, not a lot is going to happen with the Sonex this month, as I'm now in Boise, Idaho, in the US for a few weeks. Life is looking pretty busy for the rest of the year in fact! I'm going to have to be very conscientious in keeping up the Sonex hours when I get back home. Anyway, there should be more to see by the end of June. Finishing the wings in July sounds like a good target.

PROJECT STATUS: April 2006 (201 hours)

Wing spars are almost ready for riveting. I was waiting on some dimpling and countersinking bits from Avery in the US for a while, so used that time to mostly build the flaps. Looks like I may be away most of next month for work, so not expecting to get a lot done in May. Will have to pull my finger out when I get back! But I still feel like I'm on track to have it finished by the end of next year. Hopefully...!!

PROJECT STATUS: March 2006 (138 hours)

Unfortunately I've been a bit busy with other stuff and haven't done any work on the Sonex for a couple of months. But anyway, I've just started on it again, initially deburring and smoothing the tail parts prior to alodining and riveting, but have put that aside for the time being and have now started on the main wing spars.

The picture on the right shows both main spars temporarily assembled with 3/32" and 1/8" clecos, ready for final drilling with a #21 drill bit for the beefy 5/32" solid rivets that are used throughout most of the spar.

Starting to think seriously about how to incorporate leading edge fuel tanks between ribs 1 and 4.

Check out the construction pages for more details.

PROJECT STATUS: January 2006 (137 hours)

Happy New Year!

If you're a Sonex wannabuild, I hope you made a determined New Year Resolution, and this is the year you take your first steps on the journey! :-)

I'm 138 hours into construction so far. The horizontal and vertical tail parts have been assembled entirely with clecos, but are now in pieces again for deburring, smoothing and corrosion-proofing, before being reassembled for good with rivets.

I've uploaded a lot more pictures into the construction area (accessed via the menu in navigation pane on the left of the page), but haven't had time to add much commentary to the newer ones as yet. Also added some recent life images, from around the Christmas period.

PROJECT STATUS: December 2005 (109 hours)

Okay, well it's now a year since I began this website and embarked on my mission to build a Sonex. As it turned out, I was wildly optimistic to think I could have the airframe completed this year, not least because it took until October to get the kit! So I'm basically behind one year, with the plan now being to get the airframe built by the end of 2006.

The biggest potential hiccup with this, is that I may have to go and work in America for three months to half a year, probably beginning in February. So my immediate plan is to try and complete the tail surfaces before I go.

I currently have the horizontal stabiliser and elevators formed and drilled, and am working on getting the vertical stab and rudder to the same stage, so I can take all the parts to be alodined at a local metal fab shop.

PROJECT STATUS: October 2005 (53 hours)

Yeah Baby! It's here! Whoo-hoo! Early this month I went out to the freight depot and collected one very large wooden box and a long cardboard tube. The cardboard tube was actually a bit damaged in the middle, but luckily the spar cap extrusions inside were fine. At first the box appeared quite a bit larger than I had been expecting, but after unpacking it and moving all the contents into a spare room in my house, my perspective changed a little - it's hard to believe there actually enough stuff there to build an entire airplane - or at least the airframe.

It really is an amazing kit. Virtually everything is here, right down to wheels and brakes and even seatbelts. And nuts and bolts, counting the Wicks hardware kit. I simply can't explain how much of an improvement this kit is, compared to what I had previously been exposed to. The laser cut skins look fantastic, complete with smooth curvy edges and thousands of pilot holes, all in perfect position! The wing ribs are almost perfectly flat, the flanges perfectly formed. The flanged ends even have pilot holes in them. I am so pleased I bought the full kit, I just can't overstate it.

You can see some of the laser-cut parts in the picture on the right, laying in the pallet. There are actually eleven layers of these parts in the pallet. I had to take them out layer by layer to get them inside, as I could lift the pallet in through the doorway.

I unpacked the contents of a couple of the boxes which had more interesting inventory lists, and put the parts on a shelf. I tell you, this is better than Christmas when you were a kid! :-)

Something I've changed my mind about though, is that I've gone from wanting dual-stick controls to wanting a single stick setup. The Victa that I did some aerobatic training in had a centre-stick and I liked it a lot. Plus the "sitting in the middle" thing when flying solo has a lot of appeal. These thoughts have been reinforced by the people I have spoken to with single stick Sonexes - they prefer it. So I'm going buy the single stick welded parts and hardware and try to get them sent to Australia inside someone else's crate. Anyone importing a Sonex kit??

The only frustration in all this, is that it looks like I am going to have to go and work in the USA for half a year or so very shortly, and so I won't be able to make a proper start on the construction until I return. Because of this I haven't unpacked the kit as much as I otherwise would.

What else is new? Hmm.. oh - the new Dynon EFIS-D100 looks like it's now shipping. When I pulled the instrument panel out from the laser-parts, I was surprised how small it is! It looks to me like it's for a single place aircraft! (Centre stick thoughts again...)

I had virtually made up my mind I would spend the extra money and get one of those snazzy looking GRT EFIS Horizon 1 instruments, but now the Dynon looks like a serious contender also. No doubt there will be even more choice by the time I am ready to install something.


PROJECT STATUS: September 2005

I am told my kit is due into Melbourne on the 29th. I'm guessing another week or two to get it from there down here to Tassie. And I received a big bill for the GST last week. So... not long now!


Finally got the money together to pay for the rest of the kit. Hopefully it will ship out around the end of this week, and should arrive next month! Fingers crossed!

PROJECT STATUS: July 2005 (43 hours)

Nearly 50 hours into construction now. I've made all the angle parts to about 90% completion. I will wait until after I have fitted them to their associated assemblies and drilled the pilot-holes to final size before getting too pedantic about surface finish and alodining etc. See the construction page for pictures etc.

I've added a 'files' section to the menu on the left, and also a link to a report from the TimerTracker program I'm using to keep track of the hours I spend on the project. I use this program for work, also... it's a really useful little utility, but unfortunately is not the most stable program, and crashes annoyingly often. I still like it though.


My angle stock subkit has finally arrived - whoo hoo! I've been modifying Terry Holek's (#590) excellent parts spreadsheet to better suit my project, and should soon be able to begin cutting the angle into the required lengths.

Building begins! Check out the first construction page for more information.


There was a bit of a hiccup in the shipping of Mike's kit, and so my angle stock isn't now due to arrive here until mid-April. So, not a lot actually happening yet I'm afraid. Time to start thinking about placing an order with Wicks Aircraft Supplies, to get some tools and the hardware I will need sent to Sonex-Ltd for inclusion with my kit.

It's a pity that Sonex-Ltd doesn't supply a hardware kit of their own (as Mustang-Aero does), but I guess this is just the way it is for now.

PROJECT STATUS: February 2005

Hm, I think I was being somewhat optimistic about finishing the airframe this year, mainly due to underestimating the length of time it would take to actually get started. So I'm revising my resolution to one year from when the kit arrives... :-)

I've paid a 1/3 deposit on the full kit, which puts my name in the (12 week!) queue. The estimated shipping date for my kit is May the 4th. I'm not sure how long it will then take to get to Australia, but I'll soon find out because Mike Strudwick's kit #759 has just left Sonex-Ltd, bound for Hobart!

My stowaway Aluminium angle bundle can be seen strapped on top of Mike's bundle in this picture sent by Mark @ Sonex. So hopefully that should turn up fairly soon and I'll be able to get started building some of the smaller parts.

This is great for me actually, since I will get to see a full kit first-hand before mine is shipped. Once I've actually 'seen' what is in the kit, I'll better know what other hardware etc. I want to purchase from Wicks etc. and have put in with my crate. I am very grateful to both Mike & the people at Sonex, for being so accommodating.

And... I have entered my (unfinished... actually un-started!) Sonex in the Great Australian Air Race which is being held in 2010, celebrating the centenary of powered flight in Australia. Well, actually they're only accepting 'expressions of interest' at the moment, but since the race is limited to 100 aircraft I wanted to make sure I don't miss out! Formal entries and deposits are required next year.

I hope the Sonex will be a great airplane to do this race with, as it is reasonably fast and the operating costs are relatively low - makes a difference when the race is over fifteen thousand kilometres long!

The Sonex is also slow enough that I hope to be able to admire more of the scenery than I was able to while tearing along at 220kts in the NZ air-race last year. Pictures of that race can be seen by going to the 'Life Gallery' menu on the left, or by clicking here.


PROJECT STATUS: January 2005 (really, this time!)

Okay. It's nearing the end of January. That's 1/12 of the year gone! How's my NYR going?

It seems it's going to take me at least another couple of months to get the money together for the full kit, so in the meantime I have bought the plans only (#776) to get a better understanding of the project. There appear to be quite a few parts that must be fabricated entirely by the builder from raw angle and flat stock. The raw material for most of these parts is contained in the Aluminium Angle & Flat Stock sub-kit, which is in turn part of the easy-build kit.

A builder in Hobart (about 2 hours drive from me) has a full kit on order, due to ship out of the Sonex factory in just over a week, on Feb-2. The AA&FS that Sonex supply is relatively cheap (~US$300), so I am trying to organise for an extra AA&FS subkit to be packed into his shipping crate. If I can swing it, that will give me some material to work with while I save up for my own 'big box'!

Not being able to afford the whole thing right at this moment may be a blessing in disguise, as it will hopefully allow time for me to get a garage/workshop built, and I'll also be able to check out Mike's full kit in the flesh before I completely commit to the same thing myself. I also hope to get over to Adelaide and check out Lynn Jarvis' flying Sonex before I place the full order.

So. Looking at the plans, building a workshop and trying to get some Aluminium!

PROJECT STATUS: January 2005 (well, nearly!)

It's the last day of the year. I'm sitting in my tent at the Marion Bay Falls Festival at the moment. Walking along the beach yesterday, contemplating life, I decided there should be no reason why I can't build a complete Sonex airframe before the end of 2005, so long as I can organise to buy the full kit very soon. I feel I have enough experience from building the Mustang-II to jump straight into the Sonex with a minimum of confused head scratching.

If I can build the airframe this year then I should be able to scrape together enough money to buy an engine in 2006. Then I've got a few years to save up to compete in the 2010 Great Australian Air-Race... :-)

So. New Year Resolution for 2005: Build a Sonex this year.

Anyway, some bands I like are going to be playing soon, so it's time to head back out into the valley.

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