The aircraft I have chosen to build is the Onex from Sonex Aircraft. This affordable metal, aerobatic, single seat aircraft has great performance and a folding wing.I will be building the tricycle gear version and fitting the aircraft with a hand control for operation of the rudder.
The aircraft's recommended powerplant is the 80 hp VW based AeroVee 2.1 engine, supplied in kit form by Sonex AeroConversions.
Over the years, I have researched many aircraft designs, kit manufacturers and construction.methods. The aircraft that made my final shortlist were the Personal Cruiser, Sonex, Thatcher CX4, and the Onex.
1. The Onex is constructed out of aluminium. Having enjoyed metalwork at school (a very long time ago) my preference is for a metal aircraft. I believe a metal aircraft is better able to cope with Australia's harsh conditions. That being said, if I had a temperature controlled workshop and were physically able to work at the speeds required when using composite materials, my choice may have been different.
2. The Onex has a number of quick build options. Although I live in the UK, I spend the English winter months in Australia, where the climate and flying conditions are more agreeable. This is where I have chosen to build the aircraft. As everything needs to be imported, I want as complete a kit as possible. I am able to stay in Australia for up to a year and will build full-time. Having excellent plans and first-class technical support, is also important for a first-time builder such as myself.
3. Folding wings. I was looking for an aircraft that had folding or easily removable wings. The town, where I spent much of my time in South Australia has a nice grass airfield a few miles away. This is where, I plan to fly from. The ability to keep the aircraft in an enclosed trailer, which can easily be towed to the airfield or taken on my longer journeys around the continent is a major benefit of this design.
4. Recreational/LSA class aircraft. Most of my flying has been in recreational class aircraft. As the Onex falls within the American LSA class, I will be allowed to build and register it as an Australian recreational aircraft, and fly it as a recreational pilot.
5. Good performance. Very high atmospheric temperatures can be experienced during South Australian Summers. I therefore need to build an aircraft offering a good level of performance. it has been reported that the Onex offers performance equivalent to that of a Sonex equipped with the six cylinder 120 hp jabiru 3300 engine. I'm therefore satisfied that the aircraft's performance and design is more than adequate for the tough Australian conditions.
6. The ability to modify the flight controls during the building of the aircraft. I will be modifying the aircraft, to allow operation of the rudder by a hand control, which I need due to a disability.
Sonex first displayed the drawings of their Onex single seat concept aircraft at EAA AirVenture 2009. A tremendous amount of interest was shown in the design by potential builders. Sonex were quick to recognise the demand for the aircraft and commenced a development program. As the Onex promised to better meet my needs, I shelved my plans to build its bigger brother, the two seat Sonex and eagerly awaited news of the Onex prototype. This was first shown to the public at EAA AirVenture 2010.
Such was my interest in the aircraft, that I flew from the UK to attend the Sonex builders workshop at the company's Oshkosh Wisconsin facility in October 2010. This allowed me to closely examine the Onex. The visit also allowed me to discuss my specific requirements with both the aircraft designer Jeremy Monnett and his father, company founder John Monnett . I also got to meet the rest of the Sonex team. I would highly recommend attendance at a builders workshop, if you are interested in building your own aircraft.
As the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Museum is also in the town, I spent several days looking around the exhibits. This Museum is a mecca for anyone with an interest in aviation or aircraft.building. I hope one day to return for the annual EAA AirVenture. This is probably the worlds biggest aviation event. I returned home to the UK convinced that I could successfully build an Onex and adapt it to meet my needs.
The Onex prototype first flew on 27 January 2010 with Jeremy Monnett at the controls. Jeremy later described the aircraft as "sweet". There is some great in-flight video of the aircraft in the pattern here.
The company announced on 15 March 2011, that refundable deposits were being accepted to reserve kit productions slots for the Onex and that complete aircraft kits would be available by mid-year, with tail kits being available much sooner. Having paid my deposit, I've received confirmation that I'm 46th in line for an Onex aircraft kit. The wait begins!