EAA Chapter 54

St. Paul, MN. (Lake Elmo)

The Sonex Company

Members listen as the president of Sonex presented a program at the chapter meeting on March 11, 2024

(March 11, 2024) - About three dozen members at the chapter house and a handful online heard the nuts-and-bolts of the Sonex kit aircraft company during the regular meeting on EAA Chapter 54.

Appearing from Oshkosh, Mark Schaible, the owner of Sonex, described his efforts to make entry into experimental aviation somewhat affordable. "It shouldn't cost more than a nice, new car," he said, acknowledging, however, that it's getting harder and harder.

"Now, a new car is $40,000 to $60,000. We're still competitive with that. A Sonix-B kit is about $50,000," he said. "We leverage a lower HP engine and a clean design.

Schaible, who first got interested in aviation when his father, a draftsman for Kodak, brought home a draftsman table on which he designed airplanes at a young age, gave a preview of what's coming: a high-wing kit. "Most of the work has been on structural engineering but the company is starting on building.   He says the company always gets wish lists for more fuel capacity so the high wing version will have five-gallon auxiliary tanks in each wing.

The momentum of MOSAIC from the FAA should favor the new plane. The maximum gross weight will be 1500 pounds with an empty weight of 800 pounds. "It's still more than what I want," he said.  MOSAIC will stimulate more aviation training and he sees his company well positioned for such a thing.

Meanwhile, Sonex's two-place jet has "taken a back seat" in 2023 because of the workload at the company.

Schaible became president of Sonex a few years ago, not that long, really, since becoming only the third non-family member hired at the company. He was working for the EAA photo department when he needed more cash, so he was hired at $10 an hour "mostly packing boxes."

He invited chapter members to stop in at the Sonex open house, which happens every year the day before AirVenture opens.


Prior to the meeting, members reflected on Pat Moore and Mitch Zahler, who were killed March 2 when Moore's Globe Swift crashed in Afton.

Al Kupferschmidt said the trip to the Fagen Fighters Museum had been planned many times, but something always came up. He chose not to go this time and went to Aitkin instead. 

"We were waiting at the end of (Runway) 14 as another plane took off and I was looking right at Pat," he said. "I didn't know it was Mitch in the passenger seat. We took off right after and we were both at 2100 feet and then I went north and he went south. I didn't know what happened."

"There was nothing on the radio," chapter member Paul Rankin recalled. 

Both Pat and Mitch leave quite a legacy among chapter members. "Pat gave me my first airplane ride when I was 11," Donaven Chase said. "He gave me this disease (a love of aviation) that I haven't been able to shake."

Donaven passed that disease to his daughter. Later in the meeting, it was announced that Anna Chase is this year's recipient of the Ray Scholarship for aviation training.

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