So What ARE the requirements ?

1. Fun to fly. 1a. Snappy handling in the air. 1b. As fast as possible given other constraints. 2. Environmentally kind. 2a. Fuel Efficient. 2b. Minimal exhaust emissions. 2c. Minimal life cycle impacts during construction, I.E. hazardous waste generation 3. Cheap to build. 4. Two Place (wife said "you spend years building it, I wanna fly it at least once") 5. Reasonably safe.

So Why This Airplane ?

Basically, the Sonerai met my requirements, and I found a project to buy. But just putting it that baldly belies the agony I went through in my search. Let me list the airplanes I considered:

The Zenair looked like it would fail Criteria 1. The bigger engined T-18, Tailwind and Eze's didn't score high on 2a. I consider working composites, particularly wet layups, losers on 2c. The Avid, Rebel and Pulsar, while inexpensive by kitplane standards, will still chew up at least 20 thousand dollar bills, and that's not cheap on my budget, criteria 3. The Quickie, Starlite, and Hummelbird failed criteria 4. The KR-2 has a truly lousy safety record, killing it's designer among others (although Ken Rand, in my opinion, ran out of the luck he often pushed rather than fell victim to any design flaw). The QII seems to have too high a wing loading given it's low power loading. And the Mini-Master never made it to the kit stage, where it's spiraling price (the twin engines kept getting bigger) would have probably put it out of my reach. The Cygnet looked like it would take forever to finish, and it was a little pokey to boot.

I made these judgements after extensive research. I bought information packets on the planes that were actively being promoted. I called the EAA for their semi-secret safety reports on various designs ($10 apiece as I recall, a sobering read). I subscribed to newsletters of likely prospects. When I had narrowed the field to VW-engined sportplanes, I started looking by combing Trade-a-Plane, the EAA magazine, the newsletters of the types and of EAA chapters. I flew to Arizona to look at a KR-2 project that sounded good, but turned out to have some dubious modifications and workmanship. I priced out what various designs might cost. And I stumbled on the project I ended up buying at an aviation swap meet.

I haven't yet spoken of the Sonerai's many virtues, of which I have MORE to say. Or you can read an expanded version of my RANT on VW-powered homebuilts.