Minnesota Flyer - Serving Midwest Aviation Since 1960

Experimental Aircraft?


October 1, 2020

As Technical Advisor, Mark Manning brings with him over 38 years of aviation experience. He has performed maintenance on over 35 different types of aircraft and has flown more than 25 different models of aircraft.

Q: I am looking at restoring an old Cub but am thinking about a Rotax engine, which would mean the airplane would need to be listed as Experimental instead of certified. I have also heard that Experimental aircraft have a “fly off period.” What are the pros and cons of Experimental aircraft, and how does this “fly off period” impact the certificate?

Martin M.

A: With the question of experimental aircraft, the first thing to consider is that 51% of the aircraft has to be constructed by the builder to receive an experimental certificate.

There are inspections required and also a fly-off or test flight period when completed. After the test flight period, the aircraft is then operated in the experimental category with the operating limitations placed by the issuing inspector. The location and time of this period is usually determined by the DAR or FAA person issuing the certificate.

Experimental aircraft, when being built, allows the builder to adjust to personal needs or mods with more modern equipment to a certain extent with limitations. The most important factor should be safety.

Another thought is to convert a personal aircraft to experimental. There is a lot of opinions on this but it is not as easy as it sounds. The biggest hurdle is the 51% build requirement. Some take the route of getting into the experimental exhibition which would work but it has many limitations and requirements too. The best plan would be to check with the local FSDO or DAR about the requirements to change a certified aircraft into the experimental category. Also search the aircraft forums on cubs, champs, ect and the EAA website to get an idea of what others have done or are doing to get into the experimental category.

Keep Flying Safe and remember that fan out front keeps the pilot cool!

Keep those questions coming!

If you are in the process of building or restoring your own aircraft you can now send in a question to be answered in a future issue of the Minnesota Flyer by Technical Advisor Mark Manning.

Please send questions to:


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