CX4 Evolution and Growth
By Peter Beck, EAA 19566, firstname.lastname@example.org
David Thatcher, designer of the Thatcher CX4, pilots serial number one over Lake Hancock, Florida, during Sun ’n Fun 2008 while EAA Chief Photographer Jim Koepnick squeezes the shutter. Photo plane pilot: Bruce Moore.
Bill Stinson’s CX4 was the first customer-built CX4 to fly in 2007. Since that time, the worldwide body of CX4 builders has grown dramatically; kits and major assemblies are now available, and the visibility of the airplane around the country is taking off. We now take a deeper look at some of the milestones in bringing this design to the homebuilding community.
Twenty or more CX4s have flown. Not just in the United States, but in South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, and soon in Germany. Plans-holders and presumed builders now exceed 450, and an online newsletter shows builder locations on a world map. Connections to news reports, construction photo files, and builder websites are provided at this site.
Builders range from an 86-year-old WWII B-25 instructor pilot (Floyd Gustafson of Storm Lake, Iowa) to a group of serious aviation enthusiasts who are mentoring kids, ages 12 to 18 (Flathead Youth Aviation Fund, Kalispell, Montana)
Those flying aircraft are logging some impressive flight times. One early completion has already put more than 300 hours on the clock, and the septuagenarian builder (Doug Lambert) has flown his CX4 cross-country from Evergreen, Alabama, to Portales, New Mexico, and back – nearly 2,000 miles in total.
The good looks, simple metal construction, modest cost, sport pilot compliance, and exciting pilot reports appear to be driving plans sales. New pilots and flight reports come from airline captains to military fighter jocks to kids with less than 100 hours total flight experience. All love the CX4’s performance and handling.
Support for the airplane comes from the availability of kits, major assemblies, and online information. Kits for wings, fuselage, and tail surfaces are now fully developed, and the first dozen kits (now being assembled) indicate that the total construction time has been reduced by 400 hours or more. Kit components are largely pre-drilled or punched and self-aligning, resulting in smooth skins and straight assemblies. Approximately 40 completed spar sets have been shipped, and at least four of them are in flying CX4s.
Online support and information can be found at the CX4 Yahoo group and mutual help site that now has more than 1,500 members. At another website, dozens of builders have posted more than 2,000 construction photos that are publicly accessible and provide construction details that go well beyond the actual construction manual.
In the true “experimental” tradition, the CX4 is already providing a platform for new engine options and other builder modifications. Engine options being tried include Casler / Hummel Engines, Revmaster R-2300, and UL260i. A straight-back CX4 has been assembled and is already flying (Dennis Hackbarth, Bremen, Indiana).
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