What’s with the name Aeropunk?
Aeropunk is DIY aviation — designing, building, and flying your own aircraft. The term “punk” has become synonymous with a decentralized DIY ethic in visual art, literature, education, and technology, with an emphasis on shunning consumerism and prepackaged solutions in favor of ingenuity and creativity. MAKE and Instructables are prominent examples. By this definition, homebuilding and flight testing are a form of “punk aeronautics” — or just aeropunk, for short.
Why Build an Airplane?
This website documents the building and flying of a Van’s RV-8 kitplane. Yes, a real two-person sport airplane, not a toy model. Why would anyone build such a thing? Although a finished kitplane can cost considerably less than a factory-new Cessna or Cirrus, it can hardly be argued that a homebuilt is the cheapest solution for those who just want to “go flying.” Inexpensive used production aircraft are everywhere, in various states of upkeep. But aircraft homebuilders are enthusiasts, tweakers, experimenters and perfectionists. For these types, a stock airplane just won’t do. Kitplane enthusiasts want to create their own “perfect” airplane — or something very close to it — whatever “perfect” may mean to them.
What is an RV-8?
An RV-8 is a two-place tandem-seat sport airplane, sold as a kit by Van’s Aircraft, Inc. in Aurora, Oregon. It is one of nearly a dozen aircraft designs offered by Van’s, and one of literally hundreds of kit aircraft models available worldwide. The “R” and “V” in the model name stand for Richard VanGrunsven, or “Van,” the company’s founder and chief designer. RVs are built primarily from aluminum alloys, using industry-standard techniques and processes that have been proven in over 70 years of aircraft construction.
Experimental? Are you crazy?
All US-registered aircraft must be issued an Airworthiness Certificate by the FAA. Most general-aviation airplanes are issued Standard airworthiness certificates, and might be classified as Acrobatic, Utility, Transport, etc. Kit-built aircraft are issued Special airworthiness certificates, and are classified under the Experimental category. All kitplanes must be thoroughly inspected by an FAA Inspector or Designated Airworthiness Representative to ensure that their design, materials and construction comply with industry-standard criteria for safety.
The Experimental Aircraft Association, or EAA, is a large and diverse organization which supports aircraft builders, pilots, manufacturers and enthusiasts, promotes safety, and operates outreach programs to introduce the young and old to the wonders of flight. EAA’s annual Airventure Oshkosh airshow is one of the premier aviation gatherings in the world.
Who’s Doing All This?
The snazzy website you’re viewing now and the maddening project behind it are the contrivances of Brian D. Wendt, fearless aviator and brazen inventor, assisted nobly by his valiant and tireless father, Ronald, and a little three-legged shop light we like to call “The Robot.”
Spend a little time here, and you’ll soon discover what we seemingly have yet to learn ourselves: that we’re clearly in waaay over our heads. The project is currently being completed in eastern Iowa, but this is, of course, always subject to change.