More pilots flying experimental planes at Bowman Field - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

More pilots flying experimental planes at Bowman Field

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Fred Breese Fred Breese
Keith Aultman Keith Aultman

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - An airplane that crashed into a home in Columbus, Indiana on Thursday was built from a kit, but experts said the aircraft had a good safety record. 

Experimental aircraft kits, for cost savings alone, may be the wave of the flying future.

Flight Instructor and mechanic Fred Breese said the high cost of flying has impacted the amount of plane owners, "There are a lot of empty hangers right now because people have sold their airplanes."

"When it comes to fuel, it's not going to go down," said Breese. Aviation fuel is hovering near $7 a gallon. A typical plane flying in and out of Bowman Field may burn anywhere from eight to 14 gallons per hour and Breese said bigger planes can burn 18 gallons per hour.  

"You look at 18 times $7 and that's a lot of money," he said.

The issue has created a popular trend on the runways - experimental planes like the RV-12, built by Breese and Keith Aultman, the pilot who owns the plane. "I know we're seeing a lot more experimental aircraft," said Aultman.

The plane comes in a kit and runs on the same type of gas you put in your car. Breese said the savings in fuel cost makes "a big difference."

Besides the gas savings, the price tag for the plane is $62,000, which is a deal compared to a new Cirrus, ranging from $300,000 to $500,000.

"This has become the thing," Breese said pointing to the experimental aircraft, "because they are super efficient," he said, "this airplane will actually cruise faster than that 172 over there."

It burns less fuel too, only five gallons of auto fuel per hour.

Fuel costs aside, these experienced flyers say just because the kits are experimental does not mean they lack anything when it comes to safety.  They say their planes are sophisticated, equipped with auto pilot. Aultman said, "It is just as safe as any other factory built aircraft."

So, don't be surprised if you see more experimental aircraft taking off at an airport near you. "It's very inexpensive," Aultman said, "And it's a love."

More manufacturers are also selling the light sport planes. In 2012, a group of aviation students at Jennings County High School in southern Indiana built and flew their own RV-12.

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