An aerial photographer has spent over three years building his very own aerobatic airplane—entirely from scratch.
Roy Ben Anat, 34, has always wanted his own aerobatic aircraft but with prices as high as $500,000, he found the easiest way to obtain his own flying machine was to build it himself.
He began constructing his plane in a workshop in 2019 and after three-and-a-half years of hard work, he took off on his first successful test flight on August 11, 2022.
In total, he spent some $112,000, shaving hundreds of thousands off the cost.
"The first test flight was extremely busy," said Anat, who hails from Alfei Menashe, Israel. "First, [I had] to make the airplane fly straight.
"It rolled to the left, right after take-off, then [I had to] learn the controls, monitor the engine data, and also be aware of traffic and manage the communication.
"I couldn’t find the time to be excited before take-off.
"I was pretty nervous but when I pushed the throttle, I could only think about flying and landing safely."
He wanted to test his plane confidently once it was built. So, he obtained his pilot's license in June 2018 and spent the next five years flying various fixed-wing aircraft such as the Cessna, Pitts S2A, Extra EA-300, and a Rihn DR-107.
Anat discovered his passion for aviation from his father, Aluf, who flew ultra-light, powered hang gliders called trikes.
A dad of three himself, Anat knew he would need help as he began considering his plane-building project so he approached his father.
"I couldn’t do it without him, there are many things you need two people," Anat said. "He is an amateur carpenter and his experience helped a lot when we worked on the wing—made from wood."
The pair collaborated on every task—except the build plan, overall strategy, and fitting of composite parts.
"There was one thing I didn't want to do, and it was cutting with the disk, I hate it! So he did all the work with the disk," Anat added. "We found the problems would become more and more difficult to solve the closer we came to finishing the aircraft."
"The engine bay was the most challenging part to work with, lots of small components, but it was important to stay motivated."
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, production ground to a halt due to a lack of funding and difficulty sourcing parts.
"Lack of work would lead to lack of funding and production slowed," he said. "Luckily I had many supportive family members that believed in my project and wanted to help out."
In August 2022, he traveled to White Waltham Airfield in Berkshire for an intensive nine-day training course with Ultimate Aerobatics, an Aviation training service.
"It was very intensive, three flights a day, take-off and landing training, spins and recovery, and aerobatics," Anat said.
He has already planned to return to Ultimate Aerobatics to complete an advanced aerobatics training course.
"The service I got in Ultimate Aerobatics was great and the instructors were super professional, thanks to them I did the first flights safely," he said.
Anat built his aerobatic aircraft to import some civilian airshow culture to Israel.
"We have airshows but they are mostly military, not civilian aircraft," he said. "I’m trying to show that owning/building an aerobatic airplane is achievable and you don’t have to be a wealthy man or an engineer to do that."
He added, "Everything including help and knowledge is online you just need to follow your dream."
Now, Anat will continue flying his aircraft, taking two flights a week, so that both he and his plane will be ready to perform daring stunts for their big debut.