Thursday, November 18, 2010

RetroReview Thursday: Ethan's RV-7A





BLOG DESCRIPTION: Follow my step by step progress as I build a Van's Aircraft RV-7A.

MY REVIEW: Aviation enthusiasts will enjoy this blog, as it follows the author's progress tobuild his RV-7A.

As the author points out:
My reasons for wanting to build and fly my own airplane are simple and best summed up by the words of one of the true father’s of aviation, Leonardo DaVinci:

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”

Even though I’m a low-time pilot, I’ve already figured out that renting an airplane isn’t the best option available. The airplane may not be available when you want it and, at $115 an hour, it’s difficult to do anything more than pattern work and local flights. Of course, there’s a simple solution, buy my own airplane!

OK, maybe it’s not so simple. I started looking at buying a used aircraft and was amazed how airplanes hold their value. An ancient Cessna 172 would still cost me 30-80 thousand. At the 30 thousand end, you get a 40-year-old plane with an engine in need of overhaul. At the 80 thousand end, you get a 20-year-old airplane that is in good shape, but only cruises at 115 knots. Personally, if I own an airplane, I’m going to want to use it to go places and I want to go places fast! Unfortunately, my budget won’t allow this if I purchase a factory built aircraft.

With this in mind, I started looking at kit aircraft. There are hundreds of kits available. Some are not much more than a set of plans and some materials. Others are so advanced that you just match up holes, rivet, hang an engine, and go fly. I’m not an aerospace engineer, but I can follow good directions and I don’t want to have to fabricate a lot of parts. With this in mind, I started to focus on kits from Van’s, Ran’s, Sonex and a few others.

After looking at the specs, performance data, cost, and ease of construction, the hands down winner was the RV line from Van’s Aircraft. In addition, the RV-7A seemed like the best airplane for my mission. For more details on the RV-7A, check out the Van’s website ( or click on my specs and performance page.

The RV-7A is a low-wing, tri-cycle gear design with great handling characteristics in both slow flight and in high speed cruise. Sure, a lot of airplanes claim this, but how many of them fly as slow as 50 mph and top out at over 200 mph? Not many! On top of that, how many take off and land in less than 500 feet and are capable of minor aerobatics? Again, not many! Furthermore, how many kits are computer designed, precision machined, match punched and under $20,000 for the airframe.

With an RV, you get the complete package, fun, fast, and long-range. As a bonus, the airplane is designed to accept several sizes of engines and has many extra features which can be added both during and after construction. There are a lot of great kits out there and an RV may not be for everyone, but for me, the choice was simple.

The blog gets kind of technical, so those who aren't deeply interested in aviation might not want to spend the time taking a look at it, but aviation enthusiasts certainly will.

--Still More Wing Stand Construction (3/22/10)
--Wing Stand Construction Part 3 (3/17/10)
--More Wing Stand Construction (3/15/10)
--Started Building Wing Stands (3/13/10)
--Elevator Horns Drilled to Center Bearing (3/13/10)
--Fit Elevators to Horizontal Stabilizer (3/7/10)
--Finished Elevator Leading Edges (3/4/10)
--Left Elevator Leading Edge Rolled (3/2/10)
--More Trim Work (3/1/10)
--Finishing the Left Elevator (2/27/10)

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