Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) membership prefers Experimental aircraft to factory-builts.

I was surprised to read today that, according to an AOPA membership "Readback" poll released today by the pilot association, more than one half of respondents preferred "Experimental aircraft; that's where you find innovation and ingenuity" over "FAA-certified aircraft; there's a reason I wouldn't fly an aircraft that I built."

While AOPA mentions that "The results from the poll questions in Aviation eBrief do not necessarily represent the views of pilots, aircraft owners or AOPA members and therefore should not be used for research purposes" I still find it pleasantly surprising that Expimentals are preferred to FAA-certified planes by the AOPA poll respondents (albeit by a very tight margin).

As a long time member of both AOPA and EAA, I have (previously) found that AOPA members tend to prefer their expensive factory-built planes over Experimentals (while EAA members prefer Experimentals, as would be fully expected.)  It's interesting to note that as kit airplanes (Experimentals) have become increasingly popular, so has their reputation among the general aviation (AOPA) community, a testament to both the caliber of the builders and pilots of Experimental aircraft, and the quality of the aircraft designs and kits being produced today.  

(As an aside, it's also interesting to note that the current head of EAA is the past president of Cessna, the longtime leader of factory-built planes, while the new head of AOPA, Mark Baker, is a longtime EAA member.)

Views: 1123


You need to be a member of Zenith Aircraft Builders and Flyers to add comments!

Join Zenith Aircraft Builders and Flyers

Comment by Mark Maltais on September 29, 2013 at 8:37am

Well I'm certainly not saving any money by building my own (You can buy a small Cessna or Piper for 15 to 40K) I'll tell you that for sure BUT I also can't get a certified airplane that I can maintain myself, with a full glass panel, floats etc, for anything less than at least 4x what I'm paying for my build cost so far.  I shudder to think what this "hobby" will cost in 10-20 years!!!   :-O

Comment by Scott Hunter on September 19, 2013 at 12:30pm

Industry growth-1990piston sales=608,kit sales 1,147. '92=582 cert. piston sales, kit sales = 1,943. The biggest jump & disparity  was in '94: 444 cert. piston sales, 4,085 kit sales. New cert. piston sales improved in 98=1,436, kit sales then were up to 6,763.The ratio has been app. 4:1 kit sales vs. new cert. piston sales. 10 years ago, 2003, kit sales = 10,053. Incidentally, plan sales were always higher than new cert. piston sales varying 1/2 of kit sales up to 2000, when kit sales went up much higher, i.e., plan sales varied anywhere from 3:1 to 5:1 over cert. piston sales. In 2004 when kit sales broke the 10,000 sound barrier the year before in '03, plan sales had decreased from 3,500 in 2000 down to 2,436 in 2004, as kit sales were 5:1 over plan sales. I was EAA #767 V.P. 6 yrs., Pres. 2 yrs. & presented these "Plane Facts"

Comment by Dr. Edward L. Olds III on September 19, 2013 at 12:24pm


Not surprised at all, this just reflects the reality of the high cost of factory built planes and the cost of maintaining used factory built.  I know that a large part of my decision to build was that I wanted to avoid annual costs and I could find nothing new, in the LSA category that could be an experimental.


Comment by Normand Lambert on September 19, 2013 at 10:18am


Not surprised. With the HIGH COST of MAINTENANCE and the low ROI, I think it is just normal.

Since there is no way to recuperate money from owning a private plane, it just makes sense that people would

want to keep costs as low as possible. Also, a HOBBY is just that ...a HOBBY !

Some of the so called 'CERTIFIED' equipment being ridiculously HIGH PRICED and OLD, no wonder people want the newest reliable technology...

Makes sense to me.


Comment by Vincent Demers on September 19, 2013 at 8:30am

With all the kits available these days, I'm not surprised...

People are starting to understand that there's a huge difference between building a plane designed by a well known and respected engineer and building your own design (not that there's anything wrong with that) but even I wouldn't fly my own design... lol

Comment by John Marzulli on September 18, 2013 at 6:31pm

Not very shocking from my experience, but I also live and fly at one of the epicenters of experimental aviation.

The cost of maintenance, the freedom of instrument choice, the variety of airframes, the performance range and above all the engine selection are all reasons that other pilots have told me they want their next plane to be EAB or ELSA.

When you combine that with the work of and prominence of few companies (aka Zenith, Vans, Glassair and Dynon) pushing forward the ease and consistency of building... Cessna has a real problem.

Another stat to consider is that for the first time ever the FAA reported more certificates awarded to EAB airframes and Part 23 airframes last year.

Comment by Craig Smith on September 18, 2013 at 4:36pm

I think the high cost of certified aviation is starting to come home to roost.

Comment by Randy Branson on September 18, 2013 at 4:28pm

Interesting reversal of roles for the EAA and AOPA Presidents.

New from Zenith:

Zenith Planes For Sale 

Classified listing for buying or selling your Zenith building or flying related stuff...

Custom Instrument Panels
for your Zenith

Custom instrument panels are now available directly from Zenith Aircraft Company exclusively for Zenith builders and owners. Pre-cut panel, Dynon and Garmin avionics, and more.

Custom Upholstery Kits for your Zenith Aircraft:

Zenith Vinyl Upholstery Kits

Zenith Apparel from EAA:

Zenair Floats

Flying On Your Own Wings:
A Complete Guide to Understanding Light Airplane Design, by Chris Heintz

Builder & Pilot Supplies:

How to videos from

Developed specifically for Zenith builders (by a builder) these videos on DVD are a great help in building your own kit plane by providing practical hands-on construction information. Visit for the latest DVD titles.

Aircraft Insurance:


West Coast USA:

Pro Builder Assistance:


Transition training:

Golden Eagle Aviation

Pianosa Flying Farm

Aircraft Spruce & Specialty for all your building and pilot supplies!

© 2021   Created by Zenith.Aero.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service