Permanetly Grounded: Robinson KR2 Project

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This KR2 was a popular kit plane in the 1970s, with over 10,000 sets of plans sold for the the KR1 (single seat version) and KR2 home built aircraft. Several hundred were finished and flown. There are still a few flying. Thanks to Jim S for the tip on this sad bird listed on eBay. After years of work and lots of money, this one didn’t quite make it. It is in the familiar “95% done, 50% to go” state and now, can never be completed. You often see these hanger queens advertised for sale, there are several on eBay now, and sadly, they can never legally fly.


Only the actual builder can register this aircraft and qualify for inspection to receive an Airworthiness Certificate. The owner must submit an FAA notarized form 8130-12 stating that they completed at least 50% of the aircraft. Then the new owner would have to somehow convince the examiner with logs, photos and perhaps oral questions that he had built the aircraft. This builder applied for registration of his KR2 upon completion 20 years ago, but never passed the inspection so did not receive an Airworthiness Certificate. That provisional registration expired 3 years ago. This is a common situation. Hopefully, if this aircraft is sold, the buyer will understand he will be buying the aircraft just for parts. Any home built aircraft you did not build that does not have an airworthiness certificate can only be completed and certified by the builder. I spoke with an EAA examiner at the local FSO, or Flight Standards Office and confirmed this.

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  1. Bill

    None of these important facts appear in the ad. A lot of money for something that you can just taxi around.

    Like 1
  2. Dave Wright

    Home built aircraft offer an excellent way to die……..I have picked up several fatalities involving them and my units have picked up dozens. There are several things in play here, the skill’s required to build an aircraft do not translate to the ability to operate it. I personally know several great craftsmen that spent years building magnificent machines only to crash and die in them the second or third flight. I also know ex-test pilots that pushed the unknown limits of a particular aircraft that died. There are inherent risks in all flying but experimental homebuilt aircraft just multiply the hazards to unacceptable levels.

    Like 0
    • Bud Burnett

      I strongly disagree! Someone attempting to fly ANY aircraft without the proper training has absolutely nothing to do with the type of aircraft :) It has a lot more to do with poor decision making of the untrained pilot :}

      Like 9

        I agree with this statement. I see plenty of certified aircraft crash often. I am a 16-year pilot and I have flown all types of aircraft. and I have found out that if it is built to plans and instructions they fly just as well

        Like 0
      • Randy White

        I agree. I have restored a 1958 Wittman tailwind, built a KR-2, Scorpion lol helicopter, restored a 1959 C150, and designed a 25′ Gyro with a 27′ rotor for the Peruvian Army.

        Periodic inspections by an AI, and workmanship inspections by an A/P before closing anything with photos of work.
        Getting proper training in any aircraft type (like) if possible before flying your home built. Tail dragger, at least 20 hours.
        Familiarization of other aircraft vari. Do not think you can just jump into to plane and go.
        I’ve flown helicopters and fixed wings for years. I went to work for Bell. I jumped in a next generation simulator for the aircraft I was to be working on. I’ve developed control laws for next generation pilot controls. My supervisor showed me how to start it. It has wheels so it taxis like an airplane. I picked it up in a hover. Rock solid.. I took off, climbed to 7k feet. A new feature was an automated autorotation. I’m thinking,that’s cool. This aircraft has rotary switches for the engines. She tells me when she’s turning them off. She did. And said take your hands off. So I did. Now, this software was the latest build. They were installing it on the actual helicopter as I’m doing this. So hands off … It slows to 85 knits, 10 degrees left back to center, 10 degrees right…,.and went nose up into a tail stand , split s out and we were coming down. I grabbed the controls pulled pitch and hit the ground hard and blew the tires. We tested it again, it did it again. She got on the phone and told them to stop and pull that load off and put the previous load back on.
        So no matter how much people look at things, no matter the QA. …stuff happens and people die. Be prepared for the unexpected. Building and flying something you did yourself is incredibly satisfying.
        The KR-2 is a sports car it’s fast, nimble. Treat it with respect and you can have a blast. Put a 2180 turbo in it. Hang a 3 blade prop and when you are at that EAA sponsored fly in, you come in for a high speed pass, you will sound like a mini P51 screaming down the runway. That use to be my last flight of the day to fly home. Have fun in whatever you do.
        My latest design project. A little bigger.

        Like 0
    • PissedOffVeteran

      Almost all deaths occur due to pilot skills lacking. I’ve been around the home built aircraft for decades. You have some thoughts correct but mostly wrong.
      The BD-5 is infamous for deaths but getting into one of them with nothing more than a few hundred hours of Piper or Cessna time is going to get you killed. The plane is fantastic. It’s stress load abilities is far superior to almost any production aircraft. It’s abilities are great. The skills needed are high. I have flown them. Love them.
      I have over 11,000 hrs in high performance aircraft and the BD is easy to fly but it is very quick and sensitive to control inputs. Flying a Cessna compared to the BD is like trying to drive a large truck without power steering. Slow to respond, huge inputs required etc. The BD needs about twenty deg control stick input to roll at a rate of 270 deg per minute. It takes only finger tip inputs. Has very little force feed back so over control is very easy. It’s unforgiving but that’s what you pay for performance.

      Like 1
  3. Dairymen

    Besides parts, the only thing I can think of for this thing is men cave decoration!

    Like 1
  4. Christian Swanson

    I wonder if a buyer could register it in another country and then bring it back to the US as a finished plane rather than a new construction?

    Like 0
  5. Bruno

    So can you disassemble it completely and then reassemble it and be considered the original builder?

    Like 0
    • Paul Venne

      It’s glued and glassed together. No way.

      Like 0
  6. K. C.

    I wonder what the rules say if you were to tear it down to its components, rebuild everything to today’s standards, taking photos along the way, and then try for the Airworthiness Certificate. Possibly by that time you would have built over 50%, and then could meet the builder requirement.

    Somehow aircraft that are abandoned, ditched, crashed, etc and later rebuilt end up being recertified. How else could a Sopwith Camel, which likely never had an Airworthiness Certificate, that is found in a barn, be rebuilt and made to fly again?

    Like 1
  7. Bret

    There are far better homebuilts to consider.

    Like 0
  8. John

    Aircraft design has come at least as far as automotive design in the last 30 years. If you managed to finish this thing, you’d have an obsolete aircraft at best. It would look best hanging from the ceiling of a good aeronautical themed bar.

    But, as much as I hate to bring the subject up, we have an awareness that unlicensed pilots and unlicensed airplanes do sometimes become airborne (usually together).

    It’s a neat thing to think about. I’d love to fly a plane I built.

    Like 0
  9. Erik

    Hmm, put a couple of servos to the ailerons and rudder and ad one to the throttle. Get the radio synchronized and you will have a very large radio controlled air plane…

    Like 3
  10. Doug Towsley

    Lot of variables at play here. For parts, it appears a good deal ** Auction ended** and was under $5k so, for the right person I suspect someone got a deal as long as the transaction is actually completed.

    ##### I am betting that the flake and deadbeat bidder percentages are even higher on airplanes than they are on cars and motorcycles #####

    Due diligence and research is the key benchmarks in aviation. As a licensed FAA A&P you learn you start any job with a full research on the aircraft or component in question. Most people sign up these days with a service that allows to have a full FAA certed data base for history, Advisory Directives Advisory Circulars etc etc….. Log book, maintenance records, invoices receipts etc.

    YES You COULD take it apart. Fully document it. and then build it again. Lots of steps involved besides just Disassemble and reassemble, You need to have or get certs on materials as well. The above comments are correct. There is a big difference between having the skill to build a plane, and being a competent pilot.

    All that being said,,,, I know a number of old fliers who have been flying so long, and outside the rules, You COULD take some risks. I know a few locally who dont have pilots licenses and were told when they private airpark where they were storing their planes was being taken over by the Port of Portland that they would have to “Get legal”. 2 of the 3 quit pilot training fairly quickly and announced the instructor didnt know squat. Nor would they pay the money to take classes. Those 2 just moved their planes further out.

    There is still areas you can fly in no one will know or care. That means staying out of restricted airspace and stay away from airfields that ask questions. These guys have been flying since the 1930s and have forgotten more than most current folks will ever know. One adopted Charlton Hestons phrase and says “You can have my airplane when you pry my cold dead hands off the yoke!” I know another guy my age who flys all the time out of a busy airport down in Salem Oregon. (Right by the state capital) and he isnt licensed either. been doing it for 20 yrs. He is competent and knows what he is doing and no one ever asked to see his license.

    Now, if you get caught, there will be consequences. However it IS possible to literally and figuratively “Fly under the radar”.

    Now, fun trivia, or at least *I* think it is cool. I have my Dads wings from WW2, and my Grandfathers wings from WW1. My grandfather was a pilot in WW1 and said his greatest achievement was not dying from Influenza (The killer flu killed more GIs in WW1 than combat did). Grandpa completed his training and flew 1 combat mission and then the next day the war ended. His graduation certificate I have here in my office. Never believe this…………….. He completed US Army pilot training at Berkeley California. I doubt most people realize Berkeley was a military training center

    Like 0
    • Chuck Foster Chuck F 55chevy

      Great contribution, Doug.

      Like 0
    • Dex356

      Thanks Doug.

      I was curious about the connection for flight Training @ UC Berkeley since my grandfather was teaching there during that time and I live in Berkeley now… UC Berkeley has a long history of military training. From 1870 until 1962, all male students received mandatory military instruction. Then there was the Vietnam War!!! Berkeley was right in the middle of that too… Berkeley was one of 12 Universities and Colleges to offer Flight Ground School during WW1… Your Grandfather after graduating from UCB Ground School probably went on to Mather Airbase in Sacramento CA to finish his Flight Training.

      Like 0
      • Doug Towsley

        Thanks Dex, I was going to do some more research on that and I want to make a display for Both my Dad and Grandpa. I do not have any other documentation at this time other than the training certificate. I can post or email a picture of it. If you look it up his name was Phillip Towsley. I have his pilots wings and that certificate and that is it. I hope I can find more. Would be cool and amazing if i could find perhaps a school graduation photo or something. Or, school records. I have some stuff from my dad as well. He volunteered as he knew he would be drafted so by signing up for the Army Air corp hoped to dodge the infantry just like grandpa. Initially he was supposed to be a belly gunner in the Bombers. Mortality rate was very high for that. Luckily his eyesight washed him out. Instead he was radio operator and navigator in primarily C46 and later C47s. Flying from India into China supply the Chinese nationalist army. Called the aluminum highway because of all the crashes. I have his Airmans wings as well. And his flight goggle with all the different lenses, Sadly his flight suit and jacket were ruined stored in a trunk.
        I served in the Air Force as well both Conus and overseas but I never was a flyer… But as my buddy used to say to girls when we met them in bars,,,,
        “Ohh,, you guys are Air Force? Do you fly?” His answer “Only on the weekends baby!” Oddly this sometimes worked. I never thought it would.

        Like 0
  11. ECW

    I’ve been a pilot for almost 40 years, been making a living at it for 35 or so, and I can unequivocally affirm that my absolute worst nightmare of an airplane ride was flying from ATL to DEN with my college buddy and his newly bought KR2.
    Too long a story to relate here, but I’m pretty sure he shared my sentiments about the experience; he sold that thing within a few months!

    Like 0
  12. Dan h

    Scrap that thing and buy a used Cessna. Done.

    Like 0
  13. Doran Jaffas

    I have been a pilot for over 30 years and have mulitple ratings and endorsements. Have been involved with experimental aircraft on various levels for the duration.
    I strongly disagree with some of the comnents regarding safety and reliability of homebuilts in general.
    For starters if it was as bad as some of you say they would have been regulated out of existance.
    All aircraft were experimental at one time and many designs in “factory” aircraft are direct decendants of homebuilts.
    To take on a specific design and call it unsafe based on anything less than thoroughly disected analysis is nothing more than opinion.
    Homebuilt aircraft more often than not are sportier performers than factory built aircraft and must be flown accordingly. On any new aircraft…Homebuilts in particular….whether it is it first or 100th flight…the flight envelope must be explored gradually and purposefully.
    If one is uncomfortable with homebuilts or doesn’t feel qualified then for sure … fly something but even having blind trust in a certified aircraft and it maintenance can have uncomfortable outcomes. I am speaking from experience.
    As for not being able to relicense someone elses build….incorrect. There are some hoops ti go through regarding re certification but it can be and is being done legally. Again…personal experience.
    D Jaffas

    Like 2
  14. Brian

    Just a point of interest here… The aircraft can he completed by someone other than the original builder and then certificated as an amateur built and legally flown. It happens all the time with partially completed projects being sold, often many times, and eventually completed. The final builder only needs to show that SOMEONE other than a commercial enterprise built the airplane for education or recreation for it to be eligible for certification as an amateur-built.

    The only difference would be that the final builder may not be eligible for the Amateur Builder Repairman’s certificate.

    Like 3
  15. Bud Burnett

    Well said Doran!

    Like 0
  16. Paul Venne

    It’s glued and glassed together. No way.

    Like 0
  17. mike turner

    It can be flown and any work done on it,
    such as inspections must be done by an a&p with AI

    Like 0
    • Brian Ingraham


      Maintenance performed on the airplane can be done by anyone. No license of any type required.

      The only required inspection is the yearly Condition Inspection, and that can be signed off by an A&P. No Inspection Authorization Required.

      Like 1
      • John Bouyea

        Brian, You are close on requirements to write the Condition Inspection. The person signing it off only needs the “A” certificate; not a full “A&P”
        I personally have recovered & recertified 2 KR2s from dying in barns. Both fly great with legal papers. Only issue is not having the Repairmen’s Certificate because I am not the original builder. And to define that as “the person who went through the first FAA certification process and was awarded the Experimental Airworthiness certificate.” No need to be the “Original builder” to get it flying again. Just reinspection and new papers. Done it twice…

        Like 1
  18. Mark Jones

    Personally none of you are correct about the KR2S aircraft. This aircraft is one of the best plans built aircraft out there. I am in the process of building my second KR2S and have put over 500 hours on my first one. A true pleasure to fly and is a very stable and safe aircraft. The aircraft design is still alive and is continually increasing in popularity.

    Like 2
    • Brian Jones

      If your the Mark Jones I’m thinking of your first KR-2S was beautiful! Have you sold it or, are you still flying it around. Can’t wait to see your next build.

      Good Luck!

      Like 1
  19. John Bouyea

    Mark Jones, you are absolutely correct. The people who slander the KR design do not have enough experience with the marque. Non-believers should do some research at There are numerous KRs flying with over 1000 hours. Mine has over 700 TTAF with 5 different pilot owners. Flys like a dream.To the professional pilot flying in a KR between ATL & DEN, yes the airplane is responsive. For many owners, that is a large part of the appeal. The airplane pronounced as “permanently grounded” is in last stages of being completed. I know the owner will get it airworthy & signed off, as he did with the KR1 he saved from dying in a barn.

    Like 1
    • Brian Jones

      So if I understand you correctly if I get this other certificate that doesn’t allow me to have The repairman certificate all I have to do is take the aircraft to an A&P for it’s inspections and repair

      Like 0
      • John Bouyea

        Hi Brian. Only the person who applies for the original FAA Special Airworthiness Certificate is eligible to also apply for the Repairman Certificate. As that person is the “builder”, FAA recognizes nobody knows the airplane better than they do. With the initial Airworthiness inspection carried out by a DAR or an FAA Aircraft Inspector and the “Pink Slip” issued, the Repairman can undertake the required ongoing annual Condition Inspections.
        So if you are -NOT- the original builder (ie just the owner), anyone with an Airframe Mechanic License (and that does -NOT- need to also be a “P” Powerplant Mechanic License or an “IA” Inspector Aircraft License) needs to sign off the annual Condition Inspection to maintain the aircraft’s ongoing airworthiness.
        If you have any questions about this, do some readings on the EAA.ORG web site. They explain all this in much deeper detail.

        Like 1

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