When Paul Besing was building an RV-6A in the 1990s, disaster struck.
“I had my builder log on a spread sheet and when I reformatted my computer, I forgot to save it,” he said. “I lost everything.”
In the process of recreating the logs, an idea – and a company – was born. “I started thinking there had to be a better way to track this,” he said.
So in 2001, he started talking with a friend who is an amateur software designer and Kitlog Pro was born. Besing bills the software as “the complete builder’s resource tool.” It contains a construction log, test flight log, maintenance log, expense log, weight and balance calculator and all necessary reference materials and forms – including FAA forms.
The construction log is the cornerstone of the program, said Besing, a helicopter pilot in the Arizona National Guard. “If you are building an aircraft, the FAA requires that you maintain a log,” he said. “At the end of each day, you can add entries to show how much time you spent on it, in what category – tail, wing or even setting up your workshop – and you can even put pictures in the log. You can print that out at the end of the day or wait until the end of the project and print out a report.”
Those reports help tremendously when builders go to the FAA for airworthiness certificates. “We’re starting to see completed airplanes showing up from builders who used Kitlog Pro and the DARs are saying it makes the inspection process so much easier,” Besing said.
He’s also seeing a lot of those reports at fly-ins. “Builders will put it in a nice binder and when people ask ‘how did you do that’ – people at fly-ins ask a million questions – the builder just opens the report on the wing and shows how he built his airplane,” he said. “Also, if you sell your airplane, it is well documented how you built it.”
About 2,000 builders around the world, from the Netherlands to South Africa, have purchased the program, while Besing’s company, Aeroware Enterprises LLC in Chandler, Ariz., has given out about 750 copies to EAA chapters and grass roots fly-ins to use as door prizes. The software works for every kind of aircraft, from hot air balloons to helicopters, Besing said. People tackling restoration projects also use the software to track their progress, even though it’s not required by the FAA, he added.
Besing and his partner, Marc Garrard, are constantly working with software developers to upgrade the program, incorporating suggestions from users. The latest feature is MyKitLog.com, which is an online version of the software. This includes a builders’ hub, which will allow folks to showcase their projects on their own free websites. The website also will allow builders to search for other builders in their area, or to search by airplane type. “There’s a lot of potential for this to be a great resource for builders,” Besing said.
Also in the works is international support, with reference materials and forms for aviation authorities in Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.
The program costs $49.95. Besing realizes he’s competing with free websites that allow builders to log their projects, but says the software is worth it. “The biggest advantage is time,” he said. “It takes anywhere from 1,500 to 5,000 hours to build an airplane and at the end of the day it just takes a few clicks to document the process. Many people say the FAA forms, alone, are worth the price.”
Roger Osborne, of Deep Gap, N.C., has used other log systems, but says Kitlog Pro is the best. “This makes the building process so much easier to document and track,” he said. “I look as much forward to documenting as I do building, and that’s nuts.”