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Paul Kuntz

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About Paul Kuntz

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Personal Information

  • Location (Public)
    Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, U.K.
  • Occupation
    Military Avionics design
  • Bio
    CAPT, USNR Retired; former P-3 Squadron C.O. (VP-69 NAS Whidbey Island)

Project/Build Information

  • Plane
    Cozy Mark IV
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  1. I've been a member of EAA since 1965, and thus have watched the aircraft homebuilding movement grow and mature for much of its history. I have also been an airplane nut since my earliest memories of watching my dad fly free-flight and control line models, then my own aircraft modeling of all types. Building my own full size airplane has thus been nearly a lifelong ambition, which I am now finally realizing through the construction of a Cozy MKIV. Realizing the dream has been delayed by the practical realities imposed by education, career, military service, family, buying a home, etc. Fortunately, my wife enjoys flying with me, and reluctantly accepts my devoting much of my leisure time to this dream. My consistent observation through the years is that you really must enjoy the process of building the airplane if you hope to have any chance of seeing it through to completion. Whether you build it youself or not, owning and operating a homebuilt aircraft can be much more economical than a factory-built aircraft, because you can do all of the maintenance except for annual inspections even if you aren't the original builder (see lengthy relevant discussions elsewhere). So, if your main objective is to acquire an airplane that's economical to operate, then purchase one that's already built and flying. You'll need some good advice to make a sound choice, because quality varies considerably among the thousands of individual builders, most of whom have built only one airplane in their lives, and many projects pass through multiple builders before they are eventually completed. If you shop around, you will see that most canard airplanes sell for not much more than the cost of raw materials and components. ...and that's only if they are pretty nice examples. The RV series seems to do better than this, for reasons that I can understand but won't go into here. Realistically, building your own canard airplane is going to consume 3500 to 4500 hours of your labor, and will take several years. Many kit manufacturers and sellers of plans quote lower numbers, but everything I've seen reported by builders who appear to have kept close track of their build times is in this range. It doesn't seem to matter much whether you start with raw materials or with prefab components. I suspect this has a lot to do with all you have to learn along the way, and if you build three or four airplanes the build time starts to decrease significantly. One distinct financial advanage is that you will be able to spread the cost over the build time and pay for it as you go on a cash basis, thus saving the finance costs on a loan to purchase a kit or a completed plane, but that's not enough in my opinion to swing the decision. Another consistent observation is that the building process is so time-consuming that you won't be doing very much flying at all while your plan is under consruction. My Cozy project is at eight years and counting (including three interruptions of a few months each for moving to England, and for interim moves between homes). At just over 2,000 hours I figure I'm perhaps 60% done with pretty much all of the structure complete except for the strakes. Even at that apparently slow rate of progress, I seem to spend a whole lot of my evening and weekend time working on it. But, I'm still having a great time and get a lot of satisfaction out of the experience of turning basic materials into a real airplane. Frankly, it's a little hard for me to comprehend how anyone builds an airplane in less than two years, but it has obviously been done. Bottom line -- if you enjoy building things and are willing to wait a few years to achieve the satisfaction of building a plane with your own hands, then go for it. On the other hand, if you want to get something economical to acquire and operate quickly, buy a plane that someone else has built and operated successfully for awhile. A last caveat: By far the greatest danger of failure on homebuilts is the engine. In that statement I include the engine itself (components and accessories), the fuel system and cooling. Get all the experienced advice you can on these subjects, whether buying or building. Significant faults with the airframe -- mechanically, electrically or aerodymanically -- appear rare by contrast, assuming that you start with a proven design, from which there are many to choose.
  2. OK, I see that the per-plans removable top panel on the front fuselage permits a forward-projecting lip, because if necessary you can remove the top panel when installing and removing the canard. My challenge is caused by the forward-tilting canopy installation, which leaves the first couple of inches of the fuselage top permanently in place just aft of bulkhead F28. So, I think I'm stuck with putting an aft-pointing lip on the canard cover. I'll check Dave Domeier to see how he handled it. Thanks,
  3. I'm working on my canopy and trying to plan ahead for the lip that will cover the joint between the canard cover and the forward edge of the canopy deck at bulkhead F28. The lip will ultimately be joined either to the canopy deck or to the canard cover. The geometry of the joint seems to require that the lip be part of the canard cover in order to be able to slide the canard back onto the lift tabs when installing the canard. On the other hand, this will make the lip point to the rear of the aircraft, so when parked nose down the rain will tend to run under the lip and get inside the nose. Now if I put the lip on the canopy deck, extending forward over the canard cover, the rain will be encouraged to run off, but it might prevent sliding the canard onto the lift tabs, since the front of the lip would slope downward. The plans just say to make the lip, and don't clarify which way it points. I'm sure the joint will be sealed with tape any time the canard is mounted, so perhaps the rain issue is moot, but what have the rest of you done? Am I missing something? Regards,
  4. I ordered mine from Aircraft Spruce. The one they show in their catalog is exactly what I have, except they used to offer it without the "rail". The Smart Level sensor is contained in the 6-inch long unit. It splits apart, held together by two threaded studs, and can be easily be clamped on a standard aluminum carpenter's level as I described in my earlier post. You don't need to use velcro -- the smart level unit is simply sandwiched over the center web of the aluminum level.
  5. For extending the smart level, I purchased an inexpensive four-foot aluminum level at the local hardware store. It is I-beam construction, with a center web wide enough for the smart level to fit between the flanges, and with openings through which the smart level can be attached. On occasion I have removed the smart level and used it by itself when the four-foot level was too big or too clumsy.
  6. Well, I understand John's frustration, but just to moderate the tone of this a bit, I'll offer the observation that I've ordered supplies from both Wicks and Aircraft Spruce since I started on my Cozy seven years ago (I'm through Chapter 20, but now backtracking to pick up Chapter 18). Both companies have given me excellent service. I will agree that the people at Wicks know our projects and are proactive in anticipating our needs and making very helpful suggestions. Most of us are familiar with Janet and her professional assistance with our orders. Aircraft Spruce is a more bureaucratric in operation, so like most bureaucracies, things work better if you don't have to intervene. For instance, the previous post about the tubing order for a Skybolt project appeared to run into a snag associated with a backorder. Aircraft Spruce lets you choose whether to ship incomplete and backorder, or hold the entire shipment until everything is ready. If you tell them to hold shipment until it's complete, then the question is whether Aircraft Spruce assembles your incomplete order, stores it somewhere until the backordered items show up, then adds those items, box it up and ships it. If I were running a high-volume operation, that scenario sounds like a recipe for problems. On the other hand, if you wait for everything to be in stock before you fill the order, you then run into the problem of something else running out of stock by the time the original missing item becomes available, which is what happened to that tubing order. So, it's not easy, though John and others will quickly point out that this is Aircraft Spruce's core specialty, so they should be able to deal with this presumably common scenario efficiently. Aircraft Spruce offers an incredible breadth of coverage of all the stuff we need to build airplanes in our garages, and I find both their catalog and their web site superior to those of Wicks. Having said all that, my normal ordering pattern is to order the materials packges by plans chapter from Wicks, because Janet has done a pretty good job of picking up all the inventory changes over the years. The Wicks packages also include a couple of specialty parts, like those threaded studs that attach the main gear to the fuselage, that don't show up anywhere else in anyone's catalog -- even Wicks. When I'm ordering a few individual items I go to Aircraft Spruce because they are almost certain to carry what I need and their catalog/web page make it relatively easy to decide what I want. If you know exactly what you want, and you want a bunch of it and nothing else (like that Skybolt tubing order), then you're usually better off to go to a specialty house. Dillsburg Airplane Works is the best source for 4130 steel. I got to know Charlie Voglesong, the owner, back in the early 70's when I was working a Skybolt project of my own, and he's a great guy if he's still with us -- Charlie was already in his sixties back then. I'm only offering another observation for those who are just getting started. Ultimately you'll form your own opinions. When I moved my Cozy project to England six years ago I could not believe how big a hassle (and how expensive!) it became to get materials. Many hours were spent just finding someone who even offered what I needed. For the most part I have reverted to ordering from Wicks or Aircraft Spruce, having it delivered to a US address and either picking it up on a business trip or getting someone else to pack it up and bring it with their household goods when they move to England. All this adds big chunks of delay and costs. Anyone with the resources and perseverence to complete a homebuilt aircraft outside the US is unavoidably incuring a penalty of many additional months and many thousands of dollars. Come to think of it, things weren't all that much different in the US thirty years ago before Aircraft Spruce entered the scene and started expanding their product line. Back then Wicks Aircraft was still a small sideline for Wicks Organ Company, and they were simply a good source for high quality aircraft-grade spruce lumber as an offshoot from their pipe organ business. Be grateful that you can now pick up the Aircraft Spruce catalog, or log onto their web site, pick out what you want, place the order, and have it on your doorstep in a few days (or next morning if you really need it), nearly every time.
  7. You will see a number of canard aircraft with colors other than white for trim and on things like the rudders, as mentioned in the previous post. However, the temperature and structural damage problems associated with non-white colors are well documented, and we all know that for much of the day even vertical surfaces are subjected to direct sunlight at high angles of incidence. I recall a post some time back on either the Cozy or canard aviators e-mail group from a canard owner who found foam damage under dark trim areas on the side of the fuselage. My Cozy is going to be all-white except for the required registration numbers, and just maybe some thin trim stripes.
  8. I was able to make progress on my Cozy MKIV here in England in a small one-car garage 8 ft by 20 ft, up to Chapter 19 minus Chapter 18 Canopy and Turtleback. At that point, with the fuselage on its side leaning against one wall, the canard, spar and one wing hanging from the ceiling, the other wing occupying the workbench, and the landing gear in our dining room, I was out of room to go further. For power tools, in the garage I had a band saw, drill press and disk sander, each of which I consider essential for this type of construction. Many times I had to open the side door to get room to run something through the band saw. I would describe the size as just barely adequate. Even at that, in order to finish Chapter 12 (canard installation) I had to use the side entrance door, which allowed me to mount the canard by moving the fuselage right up against one wall and poke one end of the canard out the door, with the other canard tip nearly reaching the opposite wall. I also had to fabricate a removable temporary plug for the door that fit around the canard to keep the heat in the garage, and I could only install the canard for the specific steps required, so as to keep it out of the elements. It was also very frustrating to have to rearrange the entire garage and re-level my workbench for every construction step, and to have to climb up onto the workbench to get at portions of the layups. By careful repositioning I was able to get the main gear aligned and installed on the fuselage and mount the axles and wheels, but I couldn't set the fuselage upright on the gear and still leave room to do anything else. So, yes, it's possible to get by for a long time with an 8ft by 20ft space, but I'd say it's just about the minimum. A year ago we moved to a house with a two-car garage, which enabled me to set the fuselage on the gear, complete installation of the pitch controls, build the winglets and install most of the interior pieces (seats and arm rests). There is also room now to build the turtleback, install the canopy, mount the wings on the spar (one at a time), attach the winglets to the wings, mount the spar, build the strakes, install the engine and complete wiring and instruments. I figure a two-car garage (20 by 20) is about the minimum to accomplish all that. For final assembly I'll have to move the project to a larger shop or hangar. And, of course, there's that messy job of filling, sanding, priming and painting the whole thing.
  9. Ray, Im sure RAF still sells the hidden rudder horn plans. They only check the mail once a week or so. Send them a letter. I think the price is $10. I'd send you a copy of my plans, but from England it will take awhile, and I'd rather you give RAF the business.
  10. A call or e-mail to RST might get a quick, technically credible answer to the question of whether or not your antenna is salvageable. If my objective were salvage, I'd replace the plug cut out for the landing light, remove the outer skin from the plug, then enough skin to expose about a half inch of each severed segment, bridge the antenna gap with copper foil soldered between the severed segments, then repair the inner and outer fuselage skins per plans. And, of course, move the landing light somewhere else. If your canard or wings are not yet built, I'd abandon the severed antenna and put a replacement elsewhere. I put two VOR/glideslope antennas in my canard, one on each side of the fuselage. I also put a broadcast FM antenna in one wing, which would be an equally good location for a VOR antenna. If your canard and wings are done, others have put copper foil antennas on top of existing glassed surfaces. They describe putting the foil down, then covering it with one layer of BID (and, I assume, peel ply to get it as smooth and thin as possible). I don't know how they deal with the coax and toroids, but it shouldn't be too difficult to do with only one or two easily-repaired holes in the surface.
  11. Paul Kuntz


    Yes, the plans answer every question you'll have. Most people who have built Vari-Eze's, Long-EZ's and Cozy's during the past 25 years have no previous experience with composite construction. If you read the plans carefully and simply follow the directions, you'll do fine. The plans include an introductory education chapter that doesn't produce actual parts for the plane, but introduces you to all of the basic construction techniquest. After that, the chapters lead you through a very well sequenced set of steps that begin with relatively easy stages and lead on to the more challenging. None of it is difficult, but it does require significant perseverence to see the project through to the end. All of the materials are obtainable from established sources, and there's ample good advice available from the designer, Nat Puffer, as well as forums like this. Good luck,
  12. Much like you, I've been an airplane nut since I was a kid, and built a bunch of model airplanes before I got my private license while I was in college. I joined EAA and started thinking about building my own airplane during the time I was taking flying lessons, but didn't actually start building one in earnest until many years later. I wish I had started the building process sooner, and recommend that you get underway. As John Slade says, with a plans-built design like the Cozy you can move along at the rate your finances permit, and can keep reasonably busy with a few hundred dollars of initial investment, nourished after that with a hundred dollars at a time if that's your limit. Note that you're doing this on a cash basis -- that is, you don't have to take out a loan for a kit, so you're avoiding interest charges that add a lot to the real cost of the kit projects. I also recommend that you start working toward your private license in parallel, starting with ground school. I think you'll find, as I did, that the general familiarity with the concepts of flight that you've absorbed from flying models will help a lot with piloting. It's certainly different, but the key factor is whether or not you are really interested. The basic skills are just not that difficult. Being in the military, look into the military flying clubs. Most bases have them, and perhaps there's one at your base or at another base in your area. Their costs are always well below the commercial operators, though the availability, quality and consistency of instruction can be spotty. Stretching your finances between a building project and flying lessons will stretch both out, but the one will reinforce the other, and it's all adding up to progress toward the end goal. One other item to consider seriously, being in the military, is having to move the project around when you are inevitably transferred. I've had to relocate my own Cozy project from Seattle to England, and will have to move it back before it's done. You can crate it up in reasonable-sized pieces until you get to the point where you have to install the spar in the fuselage and build the strakes. At that point, in my opinion, it's just too unwieldy to move long distances without real risk of damage. I know others have done it, but it's not easy. In my case, I'm going to leave the spar installation and strake construction until after I move back home again. At that point I'll still have another two or three years of work until I'm flying. Regarding building skills, you'll find that the general workshop techniques you have acquired building RC models are 90 percent of what you need to build a Cozy. The rest you'll acquire as you go. Many have built completely airworthy airplanes starting with less knowledge that you have right now. The key is perseverence over the several years that it's going to take.
  13. Woody, Personally, I advocate purchasing your plans from Nat Puffer. The $500 you invest buys not only an outstanding set of plans that really do permit you to build a complete 4-place Cozy from the information they provide, but also Nat's ongoing support of Cozy builders world-wide. When you consider the investment of time and money that Nat continues to provide us Cozy builders after twelve years of MKIV plans availability, and a preceding five+ years of the 3-place Cozy design, it's a real bargain. Trying to save a few bucks up front by purchasing plans from someone else sounds like misplaced economics to me. I want to retain Nat's active participation in the Cozy builders' community and have been happy to pay him for the plans and newsletters as a token financial contribution toward his incentive to remain engaged.
  14. It's true that the Cozy MKIV design is approved by the PFA (UK equivalent of EAA), but not for carrying four people. PFA Engineering is the technical authority for reviweing homebuilt designs in the UK. When they reviewed the MKIV design, they were able, on the basis of successful operation of Cozy MKIV aircraft in the States, to get approval from the CAA (UK equivalent of the US FAA) for operation as a 2-place aircraft, but not as a 4-place aircraft. I spoke with PFA Engineering today to clarify this status, just to make sure that I wasn't spreading outdated information. They confirmed what I stated above, and explained that in order to gain approval as 3-place or 4-place aircraft, the Cozy design(s) require engineering stress analysis in full compliance with a recognized international standard. That would require satisfying either the governing sections of the European JARs, or satisfying the governing sections of the US FARs, which the CAA would then recognize. The PFA says that the rationale for this position is that the CAA sees the risk increasing substantially as the number of aircraft occupants increases. This theme is apparent in the passenger warning placard required here in the UK. Instead of the EXPERIMENTAL label required on homebuilts in the US, the placard here says, "This aircraft has not been certified to an international standard." Since it is extremely unlikely that Nat or any UK Cozy builder is going to pay for the full stress analysis required by the certification process, it appears that the Cozy is going to remain a 2-place aircraft in the UK until the CAA/PFA position changes. Perhaps in a few years the CAA will yield to a broader European regulatory body with a different view, but that's pure speculation on my part. Meanwhile, the Cozy remains a great design that can be built on a reasonable budget without much in the way of special skills or tools, and can carry two people with a LOT of baggage long distances at very good speed, is very comfortable for long trips and has excellent visibility. At the Cranfield PFA rally here in England in July I watched an RV pilot fumble and drop his kneeboard on the wing of his really beautiful RV-4. My own stomach churned at the sight of the big dent that resulted. On a Cozy, it would have bounced off with no damage, or perhaps some chipped paint, easily patched to good as new. One of the major reasons I chose the Cozy over an RV was the fact that I just can't image keeping a bunch of relatively fragile aluminum aircraft components hanging around in my workshop for the several-year building process and not end up with a bunch of discouraging dings in all that hard work.

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