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).

FlightChops and JP have some great videos highlighting Van’s Aircraft.

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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The RV-14 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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