Building An Ultralight In A Basement Is Just So Beautiful To See

[Peter] is at it again. Not content with being one of the best RC confabulators on YouTube, and certainly not content with the first airplane he built in his basement, [Peter Sripol] is building another airplane in his basement.

The first airplane he built was documented on YouTube over a month and a half. It was an all-electric biplane, built from insulation foam covered in fiberglass, and powered by a pair of ludicrously oversized motors usually meant for large-scale RC aircraft. This was built under Part 103 regulations — an ultralight — which means there were in effect no regulations. Anyone could climb inside one of these without a license and fly it. The plane flew, but there were a few problems. It was too fast, and the battery life wasn’t really what [Peter] wanted.

Now [Peter] is onto his next adventure. Compared to the previous plane, this has a more simplified, traditional construction. It’s a high wing monoplane with an aluminum frame. There are two motors again, although he’s still in the process of finding lower kV motors. This plane should also fly slower, longer, something you really want in an ultralight.

As far as tools required for this build, it’s surprising how few are needed to put the plane together. Of course, there are a few excessively large pop rivet guns and there will be some extra special aviation-grade bolts, but the majority of this plane will be made out of standard aluminum, insulation foam, a bit of wood, and some fiberglass. Watching [Peter] churn out high-end fabrication with these simple parts is so satisfying. If you have a drill press with a cross slide vise, you too can build a plane in your basement.

This is shaping up to be a truly fantastic build. [Peter] has already proven that yes, he can indeed build an airplane in his basement. This time, though, he’s going to have a plane that will stay in the air for more than just a few minutes.

15 thoughts on “Building An Ultralight In A Basement Is Just So Beautiful To See

  1. This brings back very fond memories of flying my ultralight back in the 1980s. I spent well over 1000 hours in my Quicksilver MX back then and loved every minuet. Wish you well on this build and hope to hear good things soon :-)

  2. Suggest he find a small FBO and show his vids to them. They’re likely to assist with or direct him to some free training and stick time. Local to me here flight training is available and you get the first flight and landing free if you do a couple hours bookwork and pass a written test. Private aviation is more than a hobby, it’s a passion and the enthusiasts all recognize this. He’s got to make a jump from the habits of a grossly overpowered model pilot where you just pull the stick to point the nose where you want to go, and actual flying at the edge of the envelope such as LANDING. And if you’ve been to a model flying field, you’ll see tons of people that can fly great, but 90% just plop it onto the ground at the end, bending and breaking things. Fly the box. Elevator is airspeed control, throttle is elevation control…. exactly the opposite of what boring holes through the air with an overpowered model airplane teaches you.

    Making something fly is not hard at all. It’s the landing you have to design and train for.

    1. Which is why, in the Soviet union, fighter pilots were first trained in gliders. Learn to fly with nature, not fighting it. Also, every single glider landing is what other pilots call emergency landings.

      1. Then perhaps the next step would be to hunt up a (helpful and supportive) member of the local EAA chapter to have a look over his shoulder and suggest useful/safety oriented things that a model builder wouldn’t necessarily be very familiar with.

        1. Yah. Some backup would be a great idea. Help to prevent PIO at 2 feet altitude above the runway on landing leading to PIO directly at the only obstructing objects anywhere nearby and a crash into one of them.

          And I recall he had a parachute on board but at no point sufficient altitude to use it.

          He needs backup from experienced pilots. The R/C background is actually working against him. It’s a different skill set once in the seat and life on the line. I’m concerned but pointing out he’s got a great shot at it if gets local skilled aviation assistance, and I very much want him to succeed. We don’t care about the aircraft, it’s him.

          I’m pointing right at the challenges he needs to conquer to succeed. I wish to see success.

        2. Yes to EAA.
          Yes to experienced pilots.
          And/or make friends with an aircraft mechanic.

          His first plane was scary. The workmanship on connecting fittings on his first plane was unbelievable; if he has a pilot’s licence, how did he ever pass doing a walkaround. Between its control lines and structure/component flexing, the plane looked like it would win “most likely to flutter”, for another flutter death.

          And it’s not just him: it’s anyone ahead of him or below.

          New plane:
          Using correct parts and materials is not enough.
          Seeing wonderfully clean square holes, then he grabs a hand drill and holds it angled or wobbles it around…
          You don’t want to look at the angles the bolts assemble at.
          Wish I was seeing a torque wrench.

          1. I disagree. His first plane was amazing, just by the fact he built it himself and it flew great!
            I would also say that if he had wayward control surfaces then he would have struggled to land it as gracefully as he did.

            The drill technique you mention is fine – he’s not building to tight tolerances and he is only drilling holes in thin stock – any small angle introduced by hand drilling results in trivial impact on the hole itself.

            As for torque wrenching, agree that it would be better, but again I think he is working to such wide tolerances that guestimating torque and saying ‘click’ out loud is probably fine. Myself, I would rather see lock washers and/or loctite just to be sure.

            Love this project, so cool!

  3. Amazed this is possible, and I’ve known about the class of ultra lights for a couple decades. The idea of a plane built in the basement in a couple months of mostly insulation foam and fiberglass blows my mind.

    I have wanted an ultralight helicopter forever. Last thing I was looking at was the Air Scooter 2, but it looks like that long since went under and never happened.

    Might be a little off topic here but does anyone know of an ultralight helicopter kit?

    1. Go for an autogyro. Kill the throttle and let go of the stick and it lands itself. No skill needed other than to remember the kill switch and get your hand off THAT stick.

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