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I think this has more to do with culture and expectations than actual rules, so maybe this might attract opinionated answers, but I still want to know what people think:

If a person were to construct their own homebuilt, like a Kitfox or RV, without first obtaining their PPL, how can they go about completing the 25 hour initial test phase required for the new aircraft?

This encompasses a subset of questions:

  • Is it customary to pay an experienced pilot to do it, acknowledging the risk involved with the activity?
  • Or is free use of an aircraft and loggable time/experience compensation enough?
  • Is it generally hard to find someone willing to do this for you (maybe do this with you is a better phrase since you will be part of the ground crew)?
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    $\begingroup$ I assume that this is under US/FAA rules? $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Aug 16 '18 at 20:08
  • $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer yup, added that. $\endgroup$ – BlackThorn Aug 16 '18 at 20:42
  • $\begingroup$ Aside from being a bad idea - 1. Until you learn to fly and actually fly regularly, how do you know what kind of airplane will fit your needs? 2. Insurance - very low time pilots and kit planes aren't something insurers like. 3. Most pilots qualified to test fly the plane probably won't unless they know you and have seen the quality of your construction. Have you read AC 90-89B? I would suggest joining EAA and finding the local chapter. They'll be glad to help guide you. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Aug 16 '18 at 22:18
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure what answer you expect here: you've summed up the options fairly well and which one is best for your specific case depends on the aircraft and who's willing to fly it. As well as where you are, how much you're willing to pay etc. In other words, there's no clear answer here and if you want opinions and experiences then you might get a better response in a discussion forum. But FWIW, if you're an EAA member and you know your local chapter members, someone will almost certainly help out for free. If they know you well enough to trust your building skills, that is... $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Aug 16 '18 at 23:37
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    $\begingroup$ Contact the EAA.org - Experimental Aircraft Association. The EAA has volunteers world wide and information for all areas of experimental homebuilts - most of it is free. $\endgroup$ – jwzumwalt Aug 18 '18 at 18:54
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Even licensed, experienced pilots often hire other pilots who have experience in test flying and hopefully time in the same model to perform the initial flights. Expect to pay for the service; test pilots do not do the work to build time. How hard it will be to find someone to do it depends on many factors such as the type of aircraft, the reputation of the design, your location and your willingness to allow the testing to take place at a safe field, the quality of your work, if you worked with an EAA chapter and at least one advisor, the quality of your build logs and photos, the quality of your flight test program docs, etc., etc. The EAA can further advise you on this, the membership fee is well worth it.

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You don't need any kind of licensing for the pilot or the plane so long as you are flying an ultralight as defined under "FAA part 103."

If you Google "FAA 103" you can get the specifications straight from the source. Some of the requirements are:

Weight of less than 254lbs empty. (Safety equipment does not count against this.)

Single seaters only.

Fuel tank no larger than 5 gallons.

Must be slower than 55 MPH in straight level flight.

Must have a stall speed slower than 24 MPH.

There are some other requirements that can't recall off hand.

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    $\begingroup$ This does not answer the question which is about experimental-amateur built (A-AB) aircraft. E-AB has a required flight test period. This is unrelated to Part 103 ultralights. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Aug 18 '18 at 22:21

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