It's the costs of labor and liability insurance that are fueling the move to experimental airplanes. (I know --- I'm building one.) The FAA doesn't put a huge amount of red tape in your way. The kicker: The first 25 to 40 hours of flight have to be made over "sparsely populated" areas, and you can't take any passengers. If the airplane doesn't fly right, you get to be the first (and hopefully only) one to find out the hard way. As in most such ventures, prudence trumps aggressiveness. Virtually everything that goes into an airplane requires hand work. The volumes are too small for mass-production of anything except stamped parts. Add it up: 1000 or 2000 hours of work to build an airplane with the burdened cost of labor, facilities, insurance, etc. etc., and you get small planes that cost as much as houses. An airplane engine will set you back $30-40 thousand. A full radio stack? Figure on $20,000 to start, and the sky's the limit. The volumes are tiny, and the non-recurring engineering (and liability) costs are huge. All of the parts need a paper trail. Everything done to an airplane must be logged and signed off. Experimental airplanes are cheaper (you do all the work, you do most of the maintenance, you take all the risk). Is there a downside? Yes; some folks are careless. Some folks aren't quick on the uptake. The accident rate proves it. But the big EXPERIMENTAL label shields designers and kit manufacturers from liability, which leaves no free lunches for attorneys, widows, or orphans. Yes, my insurance is paid up, and my estate plan is in place. I may be crazy, but I'm not careless.