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Frequenly Asked Questions

Below are some commonly asked questions we hope you find helpful.

 

Pro-Composites, Inc.
  1. Where is Pro-Composites, Inc. located?
  2. Is builder assistance available?
  3. Why build a plans built composite instead of a kit?

Fold-a-plane

  1. What is Fold-a-Plane (FAP)?

Composites

  1. Are there any health risks regarding the epoxy system? 
  2. Do I need a lot of special tools to build these planes?
  3. Are materials hard to find?
  4. Do I have to do any hot wiring of Styrofoam?

Personal Cruiser

  1. Why consider the Personal Cruiser?
  2. Why the V-Tail?
  3. How if efficient is the Personal Cruiser?
  4. What will the TOTAL Cost be?
  5. How difficult is it to fly?
  6. How difficult is it to build?
  7. Why the Corvair Engine?
  8. Can I use a different engine?
  9. Can the Personal Cruiser be flown IFR?
  10. Does it meet LSA requirements?
  11. How fast will it go? 
  12. Can I install a BRS Parachute?
  13. When will Kits be available?
  14. I have a large build, Will I fit?
  15. Can I remove the wings? 
  16. What is the designed structural loading for the wings and fuselage?
  17. What is the estimated build time?
  18. Can I do aerobatics in the Personal Cruiser?
  19. What colors can I paint my Personal Cruiser?
  20. If I have more questions about the Personal Cruiser – where do I find an answer

Vision

  1. Can the canopy be hinged on the front?
  2. What if you're not around anymore? Will I still be able to build my Vision?
  3. What about partial trial kits like some companies sell?
  4. The hours quoted seem kind of long. Is that really right?
  5. Can the wings be removed without damaging the exterior finish?
  6. How much panel space is there?
  7. Kitplanes Magazine stated that the Vision Vne is 200 mph, so why does Vision #2 cruise faster than that?
  8. Is it possible to get the construction manual in the metric system?
  9. Does the price of the construction manuals include shipping?
  10. What is the difference between the Vision SP and EX models?
  11. What other resources are available to help me to decide if building the Vision aircraft is right for me?

Freedom

  1. What's a Freedom?
  2. Are plans available for the Freedom?
  3. Why did you build a 4-place Vision?
  4. How many people are building Visions 4-pace?
  5. What is Steve Rahm's policy on the 4-place?
  6. If there are no plans for the 4 place, how do I get started?

 

Pro-Composites, Inc.

Where is Pro-Composites, Inc. located?

Pro-Composites, Inc. is an Illinois corporation and our business office is located outside of Chicago.   Composites parts are manufactured in our facility currently located at Waukegan Regional Airport (KUGN) approximately 25 miles north of O'Hare airport.

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Is help available?

Yes. We provide on-site assistance for a reasonable fee and provide workshops to help with the initial learning curve.  Typical on-site assistance cost is $225 per day with a 3 day minimum plus room and travel expenses.  We work around your schedule but expect to spend 10 hours/day on your project.

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Why build a plans built composite instead of a kit?

Versatility! Make it your own. Aren't you just a little bit tired of hearing or even saying that "they" just don't make the exact plane you want. Explore and LEARN. The possibilities only end with your imagination. Here are just a few possibilities that can't be done with a kit. Get out the books and re-discover what experimental aviation was intended to be.

                        

 


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Fold-a-plane


What is Fold-a-Plane (FAP)?

Steve Rahm, the designer of the Personal Cruiser developed a method to use flat panels of composite material, fiberglass and polyurethane foam, that could be assembled to form solid structural parts.  The exterior finish of a FAP part is on par with that of completely molded parts and without the labor intensive use of large forms typical in used the mold-less composite methods.

 The main advantages of FAP are reduced manufacturing cost, superior outer finish and strength of the parts, and flat panels that can be shipped in smaller light weight containers to further reduce expenses.

Click HERE for a more detailed explanation.

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Composites


Are there any health risks regarding the epoxy system or composite construction? 

Working with composites pose several hazards. The chemicals in the resins are both allergens and toxins and the material in the filler and ground glass can both be lung irritants. It is necessary to wear dust masks at a minimum to protect from the solids and filtering paint masks along with good ventilation for exposure to the resins. Allergic reactions, which can vary from skin irritation to respiratory, are rare but should be avoided by limiting exposure to fumes and skin contact. Good common sense care will get nearly everyone through multiple composite planes without difficulty.

 

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Do I need a lot of special tools to build this plane?
For the most part these planes can be built with very ordinary hand tools. It was decided early on that the person in the middle of nowhere with a hacksaw and a file has as much right to build a quality aircraft as someone with a complete machine shop. Certainly power tools are quicker than hand tools and bench tools are quicker than hand held power tools but the entire prototype was built with very simple hand tools.

To set up your composite shop please review this LIST

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Are materials hard to find?

Not at all.  Materials and parts can be obtained by these recommended suppliers.

b4

b5

b6

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Do I have to do any hot wiring of Styrofoam?

Absolutely not. This is mentioned several times in the web page and information package but there is still a perception that the only way to make parts without molds is the old hot wire method. Fuel susceptible foam core is not used in the Vision and in where it is used in the Personal Cruiser it is not in an area where it would ever be exposed to fuel.

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Personal Cruiser

Why consider the Personal Cruiser?

The Personal Cruiser is a relatively spacious full size single place aircraft for someone who desires a great looking plane that is truly affordable to build and operate.  Compare kit prices with other companies and you soon realize the value that comes with purchasing a kit from Pro-Composites, Inc.  If most of your flying is solo the Personal Cruiser is a great choice.

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Why the V-Tail?

The choice for a V-tail was made for looks and efficiency.  It is more efficient to use two control surfaces than three – less drag.  Our mixer works well supplying distinct control of the yawl and pitch to the combined rudder and elevator (rudder-vator).  Also it takes less time to build and finish!

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How if efficient is the Personal Cruiser?

Our current tested fuel consumption is 116 mph at 2.5 gph.  Which is 46 mile per gallon. The testing was accomplished using GPS ground speed averaging three cardinal directions.   With wheel pants and a few fairings we could pass 50 miles per gallon. 

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What will the TOTAL Cost be?

Depending on your choice of engine, instruments, avionics and how much you want to spend on dressing it up will determine your total outlay:

 

Estimated Cost to Completion

                                                        Low            High

Airframe                  $9,910          $9,910

Epoxy & Misc. Supplies    $1,500          $1,500

Engine/FWF                $6,500         $15,000

Avionics & Instruments      $900          $6,500

Paint and Interior          $600          $5,000

Shipping & Crating          $450            $450

Total                     $19,860    -   $33,860

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How difficult is it to fly?

Low hour pilots should feel confident in the Personal Cruiser. The design is easy to fly – (and land!)  Stalls are predictable. Young test pilot, Morgan Hunter, had 250 hours total time to his credit before testing the Personal Cruiser.

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How difficult is it to build? 

The construction manual is written by Steve Rahm who has authored the construction manual for the Vision aircraft. It is written for first time builders.  The techniques require no special tools and the plane can be built in a one car garage – until the final assembly of the wings, then a two car garage or temporary use of a hanger is required.  It can be done by you and no one needs to “buck” rivets.  Occasionally assistance would be helpful, especially when putting the FAP fuselage into the forms – but other than that – no ongoing help is required.

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Why the Corvair Engine?

We were looking for an engine that a home-builder would enjoy building and maintaining.  The Corvair converted engine is a proven auto-conversion and is being flown by hundreds of pilots in the US.  It is also well supported by an online community and a company that supplies flight tested and proven methods and parts to completely convert a Corvair engine core to aircraft use.

Not everyone is an engine builder – so the fully converted Corvair engine can be purchased ready to install from William Wynne.  More information is available at: www.flycorvair.com.

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Can I use a different engine?

Yes. We realize “auto-conversion” is not in the cards for some builders so we fully support builders who prefer a Jabiru, Continental and others.  Cowlings will be modified and developed as the need arises.

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Can the Personal Cruiser be flown IFR?

In the experimental homebuilt category - If you are instrument rated and current and you have equipped the plane for IFR then  - Yes 

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Does it meet LSA requirements?

YES!  We have a tested our LSA configuration.  With the addition of vortex generators, a Warp drive prop at 10 degrees and a gross weight of 1,050lbs the Personal Cruiser will meet the stall and top speed requirements of an LSA.

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How fast will the Personal Cruiser go? 

Estimates are that it will do 160-170 mph with the combination of an efficient prop designed to make use of the full 100 hp available.  We are currently burning 4.8 gph at 150 mph (WOT) – no wheel pants.  With 100 hp available and a different prop combination it should prove to be a bit faster.

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Can I install a BRS Parachute?

The design has a structural roll bar just behind the pilot.  It is possible that someone could experiment with attachment there.

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When will Kits be available?

We are delivering sub kits A, B and C.  Sub kits A and B typically ship within 30 days. Sub Kits C and D in 60-90 days.  Why the staggered delivery?  It is more cost effective to batch the C and D kits. If you are ready for the follow on kits before then we’ll do our best to rush them to you.

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I have a large build, Will I fit?

If you have tried to squeeze into other popular two place Kit planes and have been disappointed the Personal Cruiser at 29” wide cabin should accommodate you. Also, the rudder pedals can be located to best suite your needs, even the turtle deck can easily be modified for taller pilots.  A 6' 3" pilot recently sat in the Personal Cruiser with room to spare.

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Can I remove the wings? 

Yes, though the Personal Cruiser is not specifically designed for quick removal of the wings. They are held on with 4 main bolts through the 3 piece spar and a couple bolts on the rear spar. The aileron linkage and electrical can be disconnected.

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What is the designed structural loading for the wings and fuselage?

The wing was built to design loads of 4.5g/-3g with +9g/-6g safety factor. It is in utility category at gross weight of 1,250lbs. The fuselage and tail are well beyond that simply due to the minimum number of exterior layers needed for impact resistance.

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What is the estimated build time?

We’re estimating a first time builder can complete the plane in 600-800 hours or even less with an experienced advisor.

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Can I do aerobatics in the Personal Cruiser?

Currently all positive G - Lazy aerobatics are okay.  The design is in the Utility category all the time.  With a power plant that would support inverted flight, it would be possible for more aggressive aerobatics.  The roll rate is phenomenal.

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What colors can I paint my Personal Cruiser?

Any color as long as it is white.  Honestly, white is best for the epoxy system or other light colors are approved.

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If I have more questions about the Personal Cruiser – where do I find an answer? 

Email us at info@pro-composites.com or call 847-271-4795.

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Vision


Can the canopy be hinged on the front?

The prototype plane was built with a side hinged canopy for simplicity. The first customer plane is demonstrating a forward hinged canopy and I'm certain that other methods will be used as well. Remember that this plane is not a kit and is not restricted to whatever was provided in a purchased package.

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Is there a material list somewhere?

Here is a Microsoft Excel spread sheet of everything you need here.

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What if the Steve Rahm is not around anymore? Will I still be able to build my Vision?

While it is certainly something we hope does not happen, companies do come and go in the experimental aircraft business. This has become a valid concern to many people who have seen the results of partial or incomplete kits purchased from companies that fell upon hard times. In fact it has been one of the biggest detriments to many people joining the building force. We intend to be around but the beauty of a plane built from raw materials is that you don't need the company. You have essentially purchased a complete plane in a box when you buy these construction manuals. The landing gear and canopy plastic are available and shared by other aircraft and everything else is standard fare with the major composite suppliers. There is a knowledgeable and growing builder base and they will also be providing the bulk of pre-fabricated parts should you wish to purchase them. A person is wise to be wary of incomplete kits in these times and we want you to be assured that your Vision can come to completion.

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What about partial trial kits like some companies sell?

When a kit company sells you a partial kit it does so at a smaller portion of the kit price. Part of what you are paying for is the right to call and ask questions and receive guidance. It is known that the majority of questions will come in the first sections as people become comfortable with the materials and the process. One metal kit supplier sells a tail kit as a trial at around $1000.00. This is a fair deal but you get the tail and if you decide you don't want to build the plane you have a tail for sale. If you buy a set of construction manuals for this or another plans built plane you have an entire project in your hands for far less money. We hope that starting any airplane is not a mistake but it is a far less expensive mistake to start a plans built than a kit built and then decide you don't want to build it. Over the years I have purchased at least 15 sets of aircraft plans and never regretted it once if only for the instruction in methods I received. I suggest you buy plans for any airplane before building it and that includes a kit plane. Even though you can't build a kit plane from their construction manuals without the kit, it allows you to see if you want to. I believe all the reputable kit suppliers will sell their construction manuals.

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The hours quoted seem kind of long. Is that really right?

The 3000 - 3500 hours quoted for the Vision construction are realistic and based on observation of first time builders making every part. Keep in mind this is a conservative TOTAL estimate including engine, instrument, upholstery, and paint. Most home built companies mislead when they only list airframe assembly time which, in the case of the Vision, is only about 1200- 1500 hours. Certainly some pre-fabricated parts will make the construction go faster. Take a look at the segment in Sport Aviation Magazine entitled "What our members are building" and notice how many of the planes run well over their manufacturers quoted times. We would rather be straight than have you be disappointed. We have an active builders mail list (sorry, it is closed except to Vision manual holders to keep the focus) and our very innovative customers are always coming up with ways that will prove to be great time savers.

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Can the wings be removed without damaging the exterior finish?   I'm primarily concerned about the ability to remove the wings in order to transport the aircraft home for major maintenance and/or painting - not quick removal/folding as with the Europa.

The wings can be removed in about an hour and reinstalled in about 2 by two people without any damage to the finish. The procedure is to remove three cover panels on the bottom, disconnect all the control rods along with fuel and electrical connections and then pull the main and aft spar bolts. The wing comes directly out the bottom of the plane and is easily transported while the fuselage stays on the gear.

 
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How much panel space is there?

A picture is worth a thousand words

   

panel

 

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Kitplanes stated that the Vision Vne is 200 mph, so why does Vision #2 cruise faster than that? 

The actual Vne (which is derived from the EX (extended) wing ) is 207 mph INDICATED while Sean cruises the 160 hp version at 204 mph TRUE at 8000 feet which is comfortably lower in indicated airspeed. Please keep in mind that this is Vne, NOT Vd which is 231 mph.

 

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Is it possible to get the construction manual in the metric system?

At this time all instructions are in English and all dimensions are in SAE. It should be noted that this manual set has very little in the way of standard blueprints and is a "take you by the hand" approach

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What is the difference between the Vision SP and EX models?

There are currently model of Vision that are included in the plans set.  The sportier SP model and the extended wing EX version.  The EX is more suitable for high altitude flying, heavier loads, and lower experience pilots. The SP is built to the aerobatic category as defined by the FAA for strength though it is not designed specifically for aerobatics.

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What other resources are available to help me to decide if building the Vision aircraft is right for me?

1.  The T.U.B Video (DVD), which can be ordered from the "On-line Catalog" page - was developed to demonstrate many of the primary techniques used in building the Vision but can also be a useful for leaning composite techniques for other airplanes, furniture, boats, or anything else you might choose to build from composites. It demonstrates the techniques for building a shaped, formed project without molds or hot wires and without using fuel susceptible styrene foams.

 

2. Vision Information Pack - A 26 page booklet on the Vision including sample instructions, builder photos and frequently asked questions. Much of the information that is on this website but in printed form so you can read it at your leisure - a great gift for your a potential building partner! Order by clicking here

 

3. It's a great motivator to see others completing their Vision. Check the lower left section of the Vision page for builder websites or without here.

 

4. Get a book.  The new book Advanced Composite Techniques can be ordered by directly by clicking the link. This book gets into detailed methodology and has many very good exercises which can improve and expand the techniques of aircraft builders. It isn't necessary for building the Vision but is highly recommended for anyone who wants to improve their skills or simply decide if composite homebuilt aircraft building is for them.

 

5. This website! Take sometime and look through all of it.

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Freedom


What's a Freedom?

The Freedom is the new name for the Vision 4-place.  The name was chosen because of the vast amount of freedom it allows in the creation of the aircraft.  From selecting the cabin width and cabin enclosure to the power plant.  The is the plane for someone who wants it done their way and the plans support that endeavor.  The name Freedom is also an antonym for the amount of time it will allow for other activities if your goal is to get it done in reasonable amount of time.

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Are plans available for the Freedom?

Not yet but they will be available after the first flight and initial testing.

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Why did you choose to build a Vision 4-place?

I considered  a few kits like the KIS cruiser, Velocity, Lancair but didn't want to shell out $35K+ for something I would still need to put in over 2000 hours and another $35K to $100K.  Then I looked at plans built 4 placers.  I found very few choices there is the Cozy IV, BD-4, Sapphire.
 
The Cozy doesn't fit my soft field requirements. The designer is pretty adamant about following his plans or don't call it a Cozy.  It has high take off/land speeds and the size of the Cockpit looks like it is designed for the FAA man - 5'8" 170 lbs.  I'm 6'2". 
 
The BD-4.  Too small. Older design.  I imagine the wind noise is quite loud.  High wing. Not esthetically pleasing. 
 
Sapphire.  Old design, but has a good stalls speeds, a little light on the gross.  It is made of wood. This was my second choice.  I just don't trust wood.
 
Vision.  No 4-place yet.  Steve Rahm the designer has been a delight to work with.  You can make the plane how it would best suit your needs.  The building of the plane requires simple tools.  There is a great network of active builders.  Composite is new technology and the structures are typically much stronger than required.  The process is to build the plane in steps.  Build the fuselage and determine CG.  Make wings and place them  based on CG.  All steps to building the plane are just like the 2 place.  The most important structural part is the spar.  I will have Steve come for a builder assistance visit and have him help me with building the spar.  I have never built an airplane before though I have found the experience enjoyable except for the skin rashes from the epoxy dust.  Hence I reconsider the wood Sapphire frequently.  I need to stay completely protected from the dust.  I have also read some of the recommended books,  "Light Airplane Design" by L. Pazmany. It is an old book but has a lot of easy to understand engineering behind it.  I have determined a few of the aspects of the 4-place design and have found it to be as stable as most GA aircraft, similar to a Cherokee.  I have also been playing with X-plane and have put in the parameters of the 4-place - and it flies quite well.  I have a lot of building to do yet so we will se how it comes together.  Plus,  if I ever decided to scrap the project I could and not be out more than a few grand.  A kit I would be stuck with and would need to attempt to sell.
 

Side note:  I get more of a reaction from the latex gloves than the epoxy dust.  I wear a "poly-pro" glove liner underneath rubber gloves and have been doing great since 

 

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How many people are building 4-place Visions?

So far there are 5 active builders and a couple waiting for various reasons.

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What is Steve Rahm's policy on the 4-place?

There still is, officially, no four place Vision but Scott VanderVeen is closing in fast on completion of just such a beast. He will eventually sell plans and parts for the planes through his company, Pro-Composites, but not until he has successfully flown the plane. In the meantime, many builders are getting in on a sort of Beta program by purchasing a set of Vision manuals, completing two seats, and then being directed to a closed site which Scott keeps up showing the modifications and changes to make your four place. You can follow his progress by clicking here. When he is done then he will put together a stand alone manual set but if you can't wait and want to follow in his footsteps you can get started this way.

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If there are no plans for the 4 place, how do I get started? 

1. Buy the Vision plans from the online catalog.

2. Build two seats per the 2-place plans.

3. You are then given a password to the 4-place information area for the modifications required for the 4-place.

4. Build

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