Hapkido Online

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Aviation: The New Breed, Thatcher CX4

Thatcher CX4, ain't she sweet. courtesy of Peter Beck

The Thatcher CX4 is part of a new generation of aircraft that are practical, affordable, and easy to build. 

Roger Miller in his partially built CX4, good time to make airplane noises.  Courtesy Roger Miller

How easy?  Well most of the plane is 6061-T6 Aluminum cut with tin snips and bent to shape on a plywood table.  Pieces are assembled with Avex flush rivets which are pulled from one side so you don't even need another person to buck them. 

A key feature is that the CX4 can be built entirely from plans or many of the parts can be purchased prefabricated to save time.  Most of the 'kit' parts can be purchased a piece at a time which means no large outlay of money to get started.  Even in 'kit' form WITH engine it can be built for less than the cost of a KIA automobile  (see CX4works below).

VW 2180 from Hummel engines. The engine is made by Scott Casler and has 76 HP. Courtesy of Roger Miller

The CX4 is powered by the affordable Volkswagen engine that can be purchased for the plane from Great Plaines Aircraft Supply or Hummell engines.  Unlike many VW powered aircraft this one has very spritely performance and will cruise along happily at 125 mph.  The gentle 40 mph stall speed and sprung landing gear makes this aircraft suitable for landing on grass.  If you compare it to say a Volksplane, you will notice that it's a very clean fully enclosed shape that lends to this sporty performance. 

Open cockpits are nice on hot days.  Courtesy of Todd Henning

* Note: If you are partial to open cockpit flying the CX4 canopy can be removed.

Mr. David Thatcher Sr. reports that:

"The performance has been the real surprise for me. I never dreamed it would fly so great. It has a very gentle stall and is easy to land. I have only 300 total flight time as a private pilot yet I got in it and flew it without any trouble at all. It is stable and faster than I thought. I'm flying along with my hands folded in my lap, working off the 40 hours needed to complete the requirements. When the wing drops a little I just add a little opposite rudder and the wing comes right back up, never having to tough[sic] the stick. It has excellent cross wind handling too."

Courtesy of Roger Miller

The CX4 is a handsome plane that fits pilots of all sizes.  She would be equally suited for weekend flying or cross country travelling.  If cross country is your mission a 3 gallon auxiliary fuel tank is available.  One of the amenities that this plane sports is a heater and vent for all season flying.  Another nice feature is that the wings can be removed in about 20 minutes for transport.  This plane can be built as a tail dragger or tricycle.

This CX4 has an active builder/pilot/dreamer community who is always willing to lend hand.  Mr. Thatcher has surely designed a great aircraft and is sharing it at a very affordable price.  The CX4 has earned its rightful place as an aircraft for the next century.

On the horizon is the prototype 2-place Thatcher CX5.  More on that aircraft as it devolops.    

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