Why Build an RV?
When I was trying to decide what sort of kitplane I wanted to build, I looked at all of the "major" brands. I had a few requirements that immediately ruled out most of the choices. These requirements are:
- A modern design
- A cross-country plane capable of flying at least 700 miles without refueling at three times the speed of an automobile. (180 mph)
- A lot of examples already flying
- An established design with all (or most) of the "bugs" worked out
- A strong builder community with lots of online resources
- An economical kit that can be purchased in stages
- Enough room for a big guy like me to be able to carry a passenger and some baggage.
- Fixed, tricycle landing gear
- Slow landing speeds, good stall characteristics
I really didn't care if it was aluminum or composite construction, since I hadn't done either. What I really wanted was a Cirrus SR-20 without the high price tag. I like the Cirrus because it is modern, safe, and fast. I don't like the price. I want to travel in comfort, speed, and safety for not a lot of money. Since everything in aviation is a tradeoff, I knew I couldn't have exactly what I wanted, but this gave me a place to start.
Composite planes like the ones sold by Lancair and Glasair are really nice, but the price of a new kit was simply way out of my league, and the old kits take a Dog's Lifetime to complete. I know there are those who swear by fiberglass, but there are just as many who swear AT it. The "fast glass" planes are also more difficult to fly. They usually have faster approach, landing, and stall speeds. So, cross fiberglass off the list.
I heard lots of good things about Van's Aircraft, so I took a closer look. I ordered their information pack and video. I also found a bunch of information on the web. What I quickly found was that Van's Aircraft is probably the most popular kitplane manufacturer in the world. Their planes are both practical and exciting. They have a number of designs that appeal to a wide range of pilots. They have more planes flying than anyone else, and their builder community is second to none.
Most important to me, Van's designed their kits to actually be completed in a reasonable amount of time. They have taken advantage of CNC (computerized) manufacturing to create a modern, matched-hole kit.
The great thing about their computerized manufacturing process is that they drill almost all the holes for you. If I try to put two parts together, and the holes don't match up, then I know I'm about to do something wrong. This is a built-in quality feature that I felt would really help me get the plane finished in a reasonable timeframe.
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