What Our Members Are Building/Restoring — Alberta RANS S-20 Raven – Hangar Flying | Aviation


By Martin J. Merritt, EAA 331791.

This piece originally ran in the July 2023 issue of EAA Sport Aviation magazine.

As my 50-plus year affair with aviation was entering its home stretch, there was one box I still wanted to check off. It’s been a great run so far in certified ships flying all over North America, once to Europe for fun, and later as a retirement job, but my last aircraft was going to be one I built myself.

I was looking for something different than what I had been flying — but not too different — it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. A two-seat rag-and-tube taildragger would fit the bill nicely. After considering each of the kits on the market, my wife and I flew our Malibu from Calgary, Alberta, to Hays, Kansas, to test fly the RANS S-20. We loved it and in August 2018 ordered the kit.

Our kit showed up in January 2019, a couple of months later than advertised but still much faster than would become normal once the pandemic arrived. I am retired and have a well-equipped hangar 15 minutes from home to work in so building became a full-time labour of love. C-GMDK flew for the first time on March 13, 2021, after 26 months of construction and about 2,000 hours of effort.

RANS suggests a build time of 750 hours. I don’t think that is realistic, but 2,000, really? This would likely be my last airplane and the only one I would ever build. We wanted to continue to fly cross-country, going VFR for the first time in more than 30 years. We wanted to slow down and go down, but not give up the modern conveniences or creature comforts we had come to enjoy and rely on.

Our S-20 was built as an experimental with a 1,500-pound gross weight. It has a Garmin G3X primary display, an iPad on the co-pilot side, three-axis autopilot, XM radio, four-point seat belts with inertia reels, and Aerocet gear warning system for later addition of amphib floats (now under construction). All but one antenna are buried under the fabric to…

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