Building an airplane from a kit

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do
— Mark Twain
 
 
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Van’s Aircraft 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).

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.

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.

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A Van’s kit is not a scratch build. The kit is comprised of predominately 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.

RV-14 performance details

Engine: Lycoming IO-390 210 hp
Empty Weight: 1240
Gross Weight:  2050 lbs.
Seats: 2
Baggage: 100lbs

210 hp  Speeds and ranges in statute mph (sm)
Empty weight and performance measured with Hartzell 2 Blade C/S prop 

Speed - Light Weight
Top Speed: 205 mph  
Cruise: [75% @ 8000 ft]  195 mph  
Cruise: [55% @ 8000 ft]  172 mph  
Stall Speed: 53 mph   
Speed - Gross Weight
Top Speed: 203 mph  
Cruise: [75% @ 8000 ft] 193 mph  
Cruise: [55% @ 8000 ft] 169 mph  
Stall Speed: 56 mph   

Ground Performance - Light Weight
Takeoff Distance: 525 ft.  
Landing Distance: 545 ft.   
Ground Performance - Gross Weight
Takeoff Distance: 630 ft.  
Landing Distance: 715 ft.   

Climb/Ceiling - Light Weight
Rate of Climb: 1800 ft/min  
Ceiling: 26000 ft.   
Climb/Ceiling - Gross Weight
Rate of Climb: 1500 ft/min  
Ceiling: 18000+ ft.   

Range - Light Weight
Range:  [75% @ 8000 ft] 938 sm  
Range:  [55% @ 8000 ft] 1103 sm   
Range - Gross Weight
Range:  [75% @ 8000 ft] 925 sm  
Range:  [55% @ 8000 ft] 1080 sm  

Some of my favorite RV-14 images

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