Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Monnett Sonerai 2s of New Zealand

The next type of 2 seater homebuilt aircraft in New Zealand was the Monnett Sonerai 2. The Sonerai was originally designed in the early 1970s by John Monnett as a single seat Formula V racer with a 1700 cc VW motor, and the Sonerai 2 followed as a 2 seater, with the prototype first flying on 20 July 1971.  It has a tubular steel fuselage and tailgroup, all fabric covered, and all aluminium wings.  It can be built with either a mid wing or a low wing.

The length of the Sonerai 2 is 5.74 metres (18 feet 10 inches) and the wingspan is 5.69 metres (18 feet 8 inches).  The empty weight is  236 Kg (520 pounds) and MAUW is 430 Kg (950 pounds).

The Sonerai 2L which came along in the 1980s has a stretched fuselage, 6 inches longer in the cockpit and 12 inches longer in the rear fuselage, and has a MAUW of 544 Kg.  It can be built with a squared off tail and rudder and has a 2200 cc or larger motor.

John Monnett formed Sonex Aircraft LLC based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and he went on to design many other aircraft such as the Sonex and Waiex of which we have also had examples in New Zealand.

Our first Sonerai 2 was ZK-EEV (c/n AACA/369-257) which was built by KW (Bill) Sample of Auckland, and was first registered on 11/2/81.  It is photo'd above in a rather plain colour scheme at the 1982 AACA flyin at Taupo.  It was sold to J Boyd of Auckland on 24/9/84 then to N Cameron of Coromandel on 4/7/85.

It is photo'd above at the 1986 AACA flyin at Matamata.  It crashed on approach to Thames in March 1987.  It was then sold, presumably in a damaged state, to VJ D'Ath of New Plymouth on 15/2/88, and finally to SJ and JA Osbourne of Manakau City on 31/7/93.  It was noted as being rebuilt in 1997 but it was cancelled on 17/4/97.

The second Sonerai 2 to come along was ZK-EKY (c/n AACA/464) which was built by Ian Sibley of Rangiora, and it was first registered to him on 3/9/81.  It had a Revmaster 2100 cc motor.  It was sold to GAC Dawson of Marton on 22/11/84, and it is in his ownership in the above photo, which was taken at Wanganui in 1985.  It was sold South again, to RG Ward of Ashburton on 27/4/88, and it is still current with him at Christchurch, although it seems to have been inactive in recent years.

And our third Sonerai 2 of the 1980s was ZK-NTA (c/n AACA/664) which was built by John Raven of New Plymouth, and was first registered to him on 3/7/87.  It is photo'd above and below looking very smart at the 1988 AACA flyin at North Shore, where it can be seen that it was a 2L model with the low wing.  It can also be seen that the Sonerai 2 is flown solo from the rear seat.

John Raven moved to Australia and ZK-NTA was took ZK-NTA with him.  It was cancelled on 26/9/95 and was re-registered as VH-NTU on 29/4/97.  It is still current with John Raven in Australia.

Then the New Zealand Sonerai story went cold for 20 years.....

Until 30/10/06, when the first of our next generation Sonerai 2 LS's was registered.  This was ZK-SND (c/n 12/202-0565) which was built by Mark Dean of Palmerston North.  It is powered by a 2200 cc Jabiru motor.  As can be seen it is the 2 LS stretched version with a low wing and the squared off fin and rudder.  The above photo was taken at the 2008 SAANZ flyin at Tauranga, where both ZK-SND and ZK-SNW arrived together in what I thought was an impressive entrance

The above photo was taken at the 2011 RAANZ flyin at Masterton on 12/3/11.  ZK-SND was test flown by Wayne Richmond on 4/11/06.

Wayne Richmond of Stratford is one of the driving forces behind the resurgence of Sonerai's in New Zealand, and his ZK-SNW (c/n 62592365), a model 2 LS, was first registered on 19/11/07.  It is photo'd above alongside ZK-SND at the 2008 SAANZ flyin at Tauranga.  ZK-SNW is also powered by a 2200 cc Jabiru motor.

The above photo was also taken at the 2011 RAANZ flyin at Masterton.  ZK-SNW and ZK-SND are often seen together at flyins

The most recent Sonerai 2 LS was also built at Wayne Richmond's facility at Stratford.  ZK-SNJ (c/n 625922265) was first registered on 14/11/12 to the SNJ Syndicate of Hamilton.  It also has the Richmond Racing logo, but this one is powered by a 2.6 litre UL Power motor.  The above photo of ZK-SNJ was taken by Mr Bigsky, Nick Furmage, at Stratford.  Thanks Nick.

I am sure that our 6 Sonerais to date is not the end of the New Zealand Sonerai story.  I understand that a Sonerai 1 is quite close to completion at Stratford, as well as another original version Sonerai 2 that was started by Quentin Hughes at Palmerston North many years ago.  Keep watching this space!



  1. viAaIronic that the first photo here taken in 1982 of zk-EEV built and flown by Bill Sample should have parked directly behind it the aircraft he is flying currently zk-CVX owned by Aaron Reid.

  2. I am the proud owner of the latest aircraft registered EEV. It is a Sonerei 1 which was imported into NZ from the USA by Neville Cameron in 2013. Neville had reserved the registration. I purchased it from Neville in April 2015. It had never been flown. The engine is a 1915CC Great Plains VW. It's maiden flight was in June 2015 after a thorough check a few minor modifications and registering as a class 1 microlight.I did the test flying myself. Air time is currently 30 hrs. Hangered at Te Awamutu.

  3. Very fine, to see the Sonerai community in "down under".
    I am from Germany and fly a Sonerai 1 with 2200cc VW engine. I am part of the US Sonerai community on sonerai.net : have a look ..
    With best regards from Germany