welcome to my rv-14 build journal
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The following journal chronicles my journey building the RV-14 kit airplane from Van’s Aircraft. Founded over 45 years ago, Van’s has produced the most popular series of kit aircraft with over 10,400 completed airplanes assembled by builders all over the world. The intent of this journal is to document the build so that I can prove to the FAA that I built over 51% of this airplane. I am not professional builder and I don’t want this to be used as instruction; rather, a chronicle of my experience.
The Van’s RV-14
The RV-14 is a more recent variant of the extremely popular RV-6 and RV-7 models which will carry two passengers at over 200 mph and can perform gentle aerobatics (+6/-3G). In addition to the top speed, the airplane is famously fun to fly and boasts a relatively low stall speed (51-58 mph) which means it can easily get in an out of small strips. In addition to being fun to fly it can be used to go places: at 75% power and 8000’, the range is over 900 miles.
Van’s Aircraft is based in Aurora, Oregon and has dominated the kit aircraft market with designs that blend performance and utility in a kit which is not overly difficult to assemble. Founded in 1972, they focus on creating a positive customer/builder experience with in-house technical support, inventoried spares, and a wide range of product options. In addition, Van’s has a global following and a vibrant the builder community with many others that have followed the same path and are happy to help (vansairforce.com).
Building a kit airplane
The RV-14 kit is mostly comprised of sheet metal components which are pre-formed and pre-punched and it includes detailed process and assembly instructions. Most of the metal parts are connected using rivets with some fiberglass fairings and cowling. The kit can be assembled in a 2-car garage with standard sheet metal tools. The final assembly and testing will occur in an airport hangar.
The kit meets the FAA 51% rule which means that when it’s done they FAA will hand me the repairman certificate authorizing me to maintain it entirely. This is a huge benefit when owning an aircraft since reoccurring maintenance is one of the biggest costs. More importantly, I feel there is a benefit to knowing every mechanical detail of the airplane that you’re flying.
Most of the build will be done by me, in our two car garage during evenings and weekends after family time. I have a full-time job and a couple kids, so I don’t expect that I’ll be setting any land-speed records for the build. I’ve never built anything this big nor do I have any previous experience with metal airplane fabrication processes. My hope is to use the manual, local builder mentors, and the internet to figure out the process along the way. I probably don’t know what I’m getting into, but the fact that so many people have done this before gives me confidence that it’s an attainable goal.
When I’m done I hope to have a personal airplane that can help me get some separation from the ground and explore this amazing country and beyond.