I know that sounds crazy to most people unfamiliar with aviation; It may even sound crazy to people familiar with the world of amateur-built aircraft. Hell, it even sounds crazy to me. But, it’s not completely unrealistic.
Lot’s of people do it. There are 32,000 amateur-built/homebuilt aircraft licensed by the FAA. Most of these would look no different to you than a $800,000 certificated aircraft. They fly out of regular airports, including the largest class Bravos, and fly "in the system" under instrument flight rules with the airliners.
There are many reasons why I want to build an airplane. Flippantly, I’ve been saying that "I’m a pilot" isn’t as cool as "I’m a pilot and I built my own airplane". Of course that alone isn’t enough to justify a decade of work.
Really, I want to build an airplane because I want to know everything about it. There’s no better way to learn about airplanes than to build one. If I do this I will have to learn, in detail, about all of the parts of the aircraft that I really just glossed over in private pilot training. I will learn more about aerodynamics, which is cool to me because when I was 10 years old I told everyone that I wanted to study aeronautical engineering in university. I will learn about engines and avionics. I will learn about flight testing and I will actually write my own POH for the plane.
And of course, I want to own an airplane of my own. The certificated aircraft are all expensive. The ones I could afford are expensive and unexciting. The ones that I can’t afford, well, I can’t afford.
Building my own will truly allow me to have an aircraft taylored to my needs and desires.
I plan on exploring the question of what it would take for me to build an airplane.